“What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled or uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.
There is no gainsaying the fact that peaceful protest is part of the fundamental rights, endowed on citizens, by democracy. An apolitical peaceful protest is a channel of venting out dissatisfaction regarding some policies or actions of constituted authorities, which the masses consider quite inimical to their success, comfort and general wellbeing. In fact, “to sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men”, opines Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Suffice it to say that “it is a sin to be silent when it is your duty to protest”, says Abraham Lincoln.
However, in the words of Tim Soutphommasane, an Australian academic, “People have a right to protest peacefully, but there’s absolutely no excuse for anyone to be conducting a campaign of intimidation that may be directed at anyone because of their religion or because of their background.” In the light of the above, and having x-rayed the points enumerated by the organizers of June 12 protest, I’m convinced to say that the planned protest is quite “political” and has not captured the real interest of the suffering masses.
A politically instigated protest will always be hijacked by the “enemies of the nation and ruthless hoodlums” to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens and their properties. In a time like this, when insecurity is trying to sink our beloved nation, I would have given my full support for an apolitical peaceful protest against insecurity, if that were to be the core point and the sole intention of the organizers. No sane and right thinking patriotic citizen is enjoying the unabated insecurity that has bedevilled this great nation. Thus, if the masses decide to peacefully register their disaffection and give a wake-up clarion call to all the security apparatus of this nation, I would not hesitate to lend my voice and support.
Since the planned protest is not apolitical and has the tendency of degenerating into fracas, violence and destruction of properties, especially government owned properties built with taxpayers’ money, Ndigbo Youth Parliament (NYP) disassociates itself from this June 12 protest. Thus, I call on all our members, constituents and well-meaning Nigerian Youths to distant themselves, as vanguards of peace, from the protest. We should be mindful of the fact that destruction of properties, both those of the government and those of the citizens, amounts to economic sabotage. Such unpatriotic actions degenerate our dear nation to more economic quagmire and escalate Youth unemployment.
Whenever there is cogent need for us to vent our displeasure and dissatisfaction against any unpatriotic policy or deplorable situation of the country, we must do so in a peaceful and civil way, if dialogue fails us. “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence”, exhausts Martin Luther King, Jr.
There is great need to listen to the words of advice from Erin O’Toole; “In a democratic society, nothing will ever receive unanimous support. The way to deal with this is to empower elected governments and ensure that they answer to voters, not to give a veto to those who are the loudest or most willing to protest or break the law”. Let us learn to engage our political leaders in constructive dialogues, as and when due, and avoid being tools in the hands of selfish cum unpatriotic politicians, whose selfish aggrandizement will always be a catalyst that will trigger off a politically motivated protest.
“Say what you want but you NEVER say it with violence!” —Gerard Way.
Rt. Hon. Rikki Nwajiofor, Cmi.
Ndigbo Youth Parliament (NYP).