When you stepped out to resist police brutality and government insensitivity you did a good thing.

You showed that there was bent up frustration and the youth are united in seeking a better life. You showed you were not lazy, and all you needed was a cause you could believe in. You stated, peacefully, that it had become clear, painfully, that Government lacks the intelligence, creativity, commitment and sensitivity to solve the problem those before them has also helped in creating.

The fact that you were peaceful, evolved peer-leadership and resisted opportunistic leaders from emerging showed a group intelligence that is the true measure of potential. The fact that you cleaned up after yourselves, Crowdfunded resources to help the less fortunate, showed kindness to essential workers, set up medical facilities and developed logistics systems that should make government ashamed showed a depth of character, unison, fortitude and values that should make any nation proud.

It is unfortunate that after the inglorious Black Tuesday, preceeded by what looked like State-sponsored terrorism you were forced to abandon the protest. And for good reason. It wasn’t because you didn’t know that change is usually resisted, but you were shocked by the source of it.

And then the hoodlums came in. Immediately the difference was clear. No morals, no values, no mission, no empathy. The objective, for a war chest of peanuts was to discredit a credible cause. And we must admit it has been effective. It got you to call of the protest.

But those who created the monster are neither students of history or physics. They didn’t know or remember that nature abhors a vacuum.

The hoodlums tatsed “relevance” and “power”, and oh how seductive that can be!

In the process the hoodlums discovered stored palliatives. The problem the palliatives were to solved cut across all classes because hunger knows no bounds, especially in a country where nothing works, even agreements to pay minimum wage. Everyone had heard of billions spent on palliatives and many had been told they were liars because everyone had received palliatives. The only thing that was clear was that the palliatives were meant for the people.

And then a new phase began. Honest people reached an unholy alliance with the hoodlums, and a new class of citizen was born. A mix of good and bad, young and old, Christian and Muslim, comprising all tribes to become what I’d call Pallooters.

This last group are had to stop. Long after the camera phones stopped recording, they keep looting. It’s more than hunger as it also has the smell of anger. It’s a high-intensity slow-burn. The kind that destroys a nation. Reverses the tide and causes the masses to rape the wealthy for a change.

The problem is not that it will consume many politicians because they deserve it, the problem is that it might affect some wealthy who genuinely worked for their lifestyle.

We want the revolution to change Nigeria and allow it to live up to its potential amongst nations. We want to be a proud people again and brandish our green passports with the same pride that America for example, used to brandish its blue one. We want to see our brightest and best who receive accolades around the world feel free to return home and receive accolades here where there will never be a ceiling on their growth or a dampening of their success for political reasons.

But it is important that we do not destroy the country in the process. It has never made sense for the remedy to be worse than the ailment.

That is why I am calling on the original protesters to return again. The SARS issue is being dealt with, but it is our responsibility to make sure it is enforced as we imagined it.

This time the protest should be a united front focused on maximizing existing potential. Let us look at existing government programs like the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan. Let everyone study it! Let’s demand 100% implementation. Let’s put aside our scepticism and pursue programs like this. They must be implented. NOW!!

The same way we set up systems to help with food, medicine, and essential services, let the experts amongst us share with us how to exploit these opportunities. Let online sites emerge where Nigerians can download all these documents from CBN, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Economic Sustainability Committee and so on. Don’t tell us you have a loan for us when you want 120% collateral. It’s one thing to be insincere, but another to call people fools. Let the policies be adapted to our needs and not a wholesale copy from other countries.

If States want peace, let he Governors provide massive halls where youth can gather and brainstorm ideas to solve their problems. Let impunity of all types be identified and called out. Let government officials come and explain policy and solutions directly to the people. Let them tell us how impunity is being addressed. We will see the result with our own eyes. Their security is guaranteed. In the process, orators will inspire and visionary leaders will emerge.

If government misunderstands this message their soft-landing may be revoked.

Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be shifted from one perception to another. Let the original protests be revived. Let government support it. The alternative is too dire to be contemplated.

Dr Sam Ikoku

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