By Emmanuel Ogah Abi

The #EndSARS protests turned out to be an unprecedented demonstration of courage, resilience, and unity by the Nigerian youths to make a statement to the ruling class that the country still belongs to them, and that they can and are willing and ready to do what it takes to take it back.

While the entire SE, SS, and SW regions of the country was almost been grounded by these protests, one region remained ‘tacitly’ quiet about the SARS brouhaha; the NORTH, making a lot of people to point accusing fingers at northern youths for sabotaging their efforts.

At the height of the demonstrations, there was a rise in counter attacks on the #EndSARS protesters from some alleged to be Pro SARS, who are said to be under the sponsorship of some northern elites. Well, I cannot say if the accusations are true or not. I cannot even prove anything as regards the identity of the attackers even as some have alleged that the counter attackers were Hausa/Fulanis who didn’t speak any English.

But truth be told, the north is almost totally unaffected by these SARS operatives. Their brutality is almost news to an average northerner who hasn’t lived outside his region. So it’s sheer injustice to expect them to halt their businesses and livelihoods to protest over something they know very very little about.

I lived almost all my life in the north and can categorically tell you that in my nearly 30 years of living up north, I have never encountered SARS operatives, neither do I know anyone up north who has had an encounter with them. Sure, police brutality is a thing across this country; the north included. But from my vast travels around this country, I can confidently tell you that police brutality is far less in the north than in other regions. Why you may ask. Well, here’s the thing: the average Muslim northerner is controversially known for one thing; VIOLENCE. Yes, they are known for not having regard for human life and can take it at the slightest provocation. Especially when you speak against their religion or political affiliation. Every police officer posted to the north knows this. If you mess with a hausa/fulani man, you do it at your own risk, especially when you live amongst them. They’ll trace you to either your house or station and take their revenge.

 

I can’t count the number of times police stations were raided, police officers injured/killed, police vehicles burnt as a result of brutality of police officers on persons of certain communities. In fact, there are communities in the north that the police dare not enter to make arrests. They know this. This consciousness alone has made brutality in that region minimal compared to the south and west.

As unjustifiable as this behavior is, it has helped spared the north from errant police officers and even SARS operatives’ brutality. You can accuse the average northerner of violence, religious bigotry, and nepotism, but you can never accuse him of cowardice. Never! The northerners (the Muslims especially) are as bold as lions. Call it dumb boldness if you like. They are also loyal to their own, to a fault. This action has made them sit this protest out because their elites have made them to understand that it doesn’t affect them. Which indeed is true. Sadly so.

The north has witnessed unprecedented rise in violence since 2009 when Boko Haram started. Thousands of northerners have been killed, millions more have been displaced as a result. Today, many states in the north have become slaughter grounds for bandits and kidnappers. Hundreds die monthly in Zamfara, kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto etc. More numbers than SARS operatives have slaughtered since their establishment in 1992.

If I may ask, how many times have the entire country joined the north in solidarity to protest these killings? How many times?

If I have my entire house on fire, and you only have your kitchen burning, do you expect me to leave my burning house to come help you put out your fire? It doesn’t happen that way, mate. Yes, the north has since independence shown herself to be cunning, untrustworthy, and even painted the black sheep. But trust me, the average northerner has more patriotism to this country, or better still, believes in this country more than people from other regions. The average northerner believes that Nigeria is his, and as a stakeholder he has a right to demand of her what a nation must give her people. Little wonder they corner all the nation’s resources and are evidently present in every aspect of government.

As much as I do not desire to enter this debate on why the north was indifferent to the #Endsars movement, I just thought I should point out to whoever cares to listen that the rest of the country haven’t been good friends to the north too when they suffered their own terror. Everyone stayed in their safe corners and pretended like it don’t matter because the bombs didn’t explode in your backyard. Because the bandits didn’t attack your village and pillage your community. Because the violence didn’t affect you. How many times did we shut down the country because boko haram was terrorizing the north?

If not for the pro SARS protests, which is yet to be proven whether they were spearheaded by northerners, I do not see reasons why the rest of the country should vilify the north for not joining the protests. That’s because they have a bigger trouble they’re battling. I hope you understand that?

(c) Emmanuel Ogah Abi 2020

P.S. This is not me taking sides here. No. This is me trying to balance the argument as a Journalist.