(Mr Anthony Ojukwu, a columnist with Umuaka Times gives a poetic narrative of what SARS represents to the Nigerian people.)
In my university, we called them “Akwuzu SARS”. They were like Voldemort. They whose names were mentioned with fear.
Revenuers, they were..They still are. On the days when they’d visit the hostels, there’d be commotions in the areas, and beyond. And we’d ask ourselves if we’d ever again see those who they took away. And we wondered who’d be taken next. We knew……. We knew…….. We knew……… That their building was like the evil forest of the ancient lands. That if you went in there, only the gods could bring you out.
“I go kill you, nothing go happen”, was the sentence we heard from them frequently.
They were like dogs who’d gone rabid. Like lab rats who’d gone mad! It was either they didn’t care about the law, or they were above the law. For they said it regardless of who heard them.
For they were never questioned, not even by the government. Oji River swallowed the many corpses they had thrown inside it. They fed the river with the bodies of the youths of the land.
And she’d heave, and vomit the bodies. Only for them to give her more the next day.
An endless supply of dead youths it seemed. The supplier; SARS. Sometimes, I try to understand the killing. It isn’t racism. It isn’t tribalism. It isn’t religiosity. Cold blooded murder.
Murder for the sport of it. Murder for the joy of it. Murder, because they can. And only a fool fights a man with a gun. So, they were like the monsters of the forest that hunted the deer, and the rodents. The deer were the youth. The rodents are the youth. The youths who do not know when they’ll be eaten alive. The youths with dreams who may not get to see the next season. The youths with aspirations who may not live to tell their stories The youths who may not live long enough to return home to put on their generators. The youths who no longer ask of good roads nor electricity. Just that they die by old age. Not by guns, nor blades.
To be a youth in Nigeria is to be hunted by the force. To be a youth in Nigeria is to be terrorized in your nation. To be a youth in Nigeria is to be afraid to leave your home. But even when you stay in, they will come for you. And break in. Torture you. Beat you. And maybe kill you, if they feel thirsty. To be a youth in Nigeria is to not make use of technology. But even when you do not, they will frame you, incriminate you, and maybe kill you, if they feel thirsty. To be a youth in Nigeria is to not have money.
But even when you do not, they will arrest you, beat you till you see Hades, and then ask for a ransom from friends and family. To be a youth in Nigeria is to be a deer. To be a youth in Nigeria is to be hunted.\
As I tuned to the several national news channels, I didn’t see anything about the murders of the youths. As I went to their social media pages, I didn’t see anything about the murders of the youths. I saw the media white washing us. Changing the narrative. I saw the media deceiving the world. Twisting the headlines. And a shiver went down my spine. They could kill every youth in the entire nation, and there would be no media to broadcast our sufferings to the world. No media to tell the world that there was a country. No media to tell the world the story of the Nigerian youths.
And this hurts!
“For in the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”, says Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”, says Lord Acton.
“But scream, so that one day, a 100 years from now, another youth will not have to dry their tears, wondering where in history they lost their voice”, says Jasmin Kaur.
The youths who served as election officials, despite the risks. The youths who were called lazy by their president, in another man’s land, yet persevered. The youths whose dreams, ambitions, innovations, and inventions have been killed by their government. The youths who raised the flag of Nigeria against the white man. The youths who stayed all night protecting their neighborhood against the beasts of the land. The youths who campaigned for the government. The youths who put Nigeria on the World map. That is the youth that was murdered by its own government. That is the youth who cried out for help, only to hear the deafening silence of their leaders.
O God of creation, can you hear me? Are you still directing our noble cause? Because our leaders are not guided right. Can you intervene? Our youth know the truth. But they are killed before they speak it. Or they are killed for speaking it. Our youths are killed for attaining lofty heights. They are killed for aspiring. They are killed for existing. Peace was killed.
Justice is dead. SARS bows before the white man. They do not question the source of his wealth. He is treated like a god. They cover him like the shell of a tortoise. But they kill their youths. And cut our tongues. They point their guns at us. And dare us to speak. They kill those who challenge them. And silence they who defy them. Our only crime………. Is that we are youths.
Hear the wails of the mother who has to bury her child. See the perpetual tears of the father who has to bury his only child. Feel the despair of the youth who mourns their own, wondering when it would be their turn. The youths are dying. And Nigeria is dying with them. The Labours of our heroes past are almost becoming in vain. For history shall write: Nigerians were killed, not by the colonial masters, nor the invaders, but by the very government who swore to protect and preserve them. The answer is very simple.