#EndSARS and the hubris of leadership

Not quite long ago, we all gathered in outrage for George Floyd and the others that died like him. Out of the universal condemnation that followed George’s death, we developed a conscious to educate and enlighten the rest of humanity that black lives matter. Hence, our rage against all forms of racism, flagrant humiliation and killing of people of black heritage across the world continue, so is the campaign for equity.

How ironic, the memo for this moral and social consciousness never reached the continent of Africa.

The #EndSARS protesters’ demand for an end to police brutality and killings, and also a better working condition for the same police that enjoys brutalising the general population. Yet, within the confinement of these basic human requests and peaceful protests, the killings continue.

As we watched the harrowing carnage unfold in utter disbelieve, my wife asked if black lives only matter in the United States, United Kingdom, but not in Nigeria. With the innocence of a European, she asked how can they slaughter people like animals; don’t they care about their fellow Nigerians?

Good question! Well, it had taken over a fortnight for our President to address the nation. Unsurprisingly, when he did finally say something, he said nothing at all. Neither the Lekki Tollgate massacre mattered, nor the ever-present herdsmen savagery, terrorists’ attacks and incessant banditry across our Northern States. We are a nation under siege, and nobody is presiding.

The hubris of bad leadership starts with the intoxication of power, lack of empathy and an inability to understand the misery and sufferings they inflict on others. The purveyors forget how to use power and political mandates as a means to listen, serve, lead and reconcile the need for unity and wellbeing of the people. Unfortunately, our country has always existed within this paradox.

Good leaders and governments are those that aim to protect and work towards creating opportunities and common advantage for every citizen. They share leadership and develop a culture of possibilities; an environment where ordinary people can believe in their ability to facilitate and create change. Good leaders acknowledge and embrace their social responsibilities, listen and motivate people, and support them to develop a sense of ownership in governance.

The state of our nation today reinforces the public perception our political institutions and leaders are, either by ignorance and unforgivable incompetence do not understand what suffering and hopelessness look like or just sheer wickedness and ungodly.

Their handling of the #EndSARS protests is inexcusable, therefore, can only be condoned and defended by those who are callous, and lacking respect for human lives and the laws of the land.

As with all animals that kill their young, leaders who fail on their responsibility to educate, develop and protect the young will eventually face extinction.

The killing of #EndSARS protesters and lack of acknowledgement by those mandated to protect us merely reinforced what Nigerians already knew - our lives and how we die do not matter. Black lives may matter somewhere else but here in Africa, our leaders deemed us surplus to requirement.

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