LOUD WHISPERS: Make A Choice. Take A Stand.

I just got off the phone from talking to a good friend, and she told me that for the past one week she has felt numb and listless. She spoke about a sense of loss and despair. She described her feeling in one word – depressed. I listened, encouraged her and we both prayed for peace and an end to the storms raging around us. When she had finished telling me about all the things she has been concerned about, I told her I have been feeling exactly the same way. She said, “But you are always the optimistic and strong one”. I told her, these times does not distinguish the optimists from the pessimists nor the weak from the strong. We all have cause to be worried, anxious and deeply concerned.


The events of the past one week in Nigeria have resulted in so much loss and devastation, and just like almost everything else in our country, what could have been resolved peacefully became a bewilderingly complex issue. It should be hard to find anyone who would say that the thousands of Nigerian youth who took to the streets to protest police brutality and an end to the dreaded SARS were wrong. Even for the cynical, or those directly unaffected by the antics of this disbanded force, by the time we heard all the stories of abuse, harassment, intimidation, sexual assault, extortion and the like, committed in the name of this rogue group, there was broad-based consensus that the young people were right. They needed to go. No parent wants to receive the dead body of a child. No tax payer should be interested in sustaining a system that legitimizes violence and impunity in the name of law and order. The demands of the #EndSars protesters were specific and actionable. A lot has been said about how well organised and peaceful the protests were, so I will not dwell on that.


Then October 20th 2020 happened at the Lekki Tollgate, followed by an orgy of looting and violence that spread all over the country. Everyone is entitled to their own truths and opinions but not their own facts. It is ungodly for anyone to engage in a debate of who or how many people died at the Lekki Toll Gate when what is simply needed is an official inquiry into what happened. It does not matter if it was one person or fifty. No one should be intimidated into silence. Let the eye-witnesses come forward at such an inquiry, with witness protection if necessary and state what they observed and experienced. Blood was shed, whose was it? People died, how many? Shots were fired, on whose orders? These questions cannot be answered by emergency analysts on social media or the pages of newspapers, only an official investigation can unearth the whole truth. The torrent of grainy videos circulating online and the various accounts of the scared and injured youth who were actually present (and not tweeting feverishly from Canada, London or France) should be channeled into this independent investigation. Everyone deserves the truth. If my generation had all been gunned down during our years of protesting against military dictatorship, we would not be here, we should all be outraged when guns are pointed and fired at our children.


Now, I will move on to another issue that emerged off the back of the crisis in Lagos last week, the discovery of warehouses in various States containing CACOVID food palliatives. The narrative that emerged about this was a terrible one, that State governments have been hoarding foodstuff meant for the poor, while people starved during the Covid19 lockdowns. I do not know exactly what happened at the Lekki Tollgate. However, I know about the CACOVID palliatives. In the aftermath of the #EndSars crisis, trust and truth have become major casualties. It is not true that State governments deliberately hoarded CACOVID palliatives. It is CACOVID (the corporate alliance that came together in Nigeria to support the Federal and State governments to tackle Covid19) who were trying to ensure that their donated items were procured and distributed according to an agreed format with the States. Many States had not received all the donated items, and under the CACOVID terms, they could not distribute, if this was the case. Even States who had received all their items had to wait for clearance and an official handover from CACOVID. A lot of abuse and curses have been rained on State Governors because of this. Lives have been lost as people have gone on rampage looting warehouses, including private ones. CACOVID issued an official statement explaining what happened and confirming that the delays were not the fault of the State governments. The Nigerian Governors Forum has also issued a statement to this effect. No one is listening, no one cares. No one is interested in a narrative that states exactly what happened, only the illogical conclusion that governments deliberately starved their citizens. The handful of people I spoke to about this expressed surprise when I narrated what happened based on my experience with the process, but they did not bother to correct strident assertions they had made on their social media handles.


No one will believe how hard we fought in Ekiti State to make sure that we were one of the first to get approval from CACOVID for us to give out our food items because it was taking too long and we needed to attend to our people. No one will believe how many sleepless nights our team had working on this issue. Even when the distribution was done in broad daylight, with deliveries to local governments, the elderly, religious bodies, community leaders, associations, unions, widows, farmstead communities – a very long list, people were still incited online to go on a hunt for ‘hoarded palliatives’. We issued statements, provided video footage of the distribution, testimonies from recipients and photographs. We did ‘Salaye Olympics’ on radio, television and online. No palliatives warehouse was found in Ekiti State, but it did not prevent people from looting the Federal Government Food Reserve Silos and carting away agricultural products as well as inedible corn meant for planting. It did not deter them from looting and burning the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) office and depriving the State of emergency supplies such as mattresses, blankets, toiletries, buckets and so on.

We all need to do better. As leaders, we have to earn the trust of our people through transparency, listening, sensitivity and regular communication. Citizens have a right to know what is done in their name and with their resources. Governments and citizens also need to have a collective investment in the peace enterprise. Chaos and anarchy serve no purpose other than to make the vulnerable even more so, and set back hard-won gains by decades. The #EndSars protesters also put other issues on the table, all linked and contextual – accountability, good governance, constitutional reforms and the leadership of young people as solution providers. These demands are not only reasonable, they are imperative if we are serious about a transformative agenda for our country. We all need to own these roadmaps, and demonizing every political leader or elder is not a sustainable solution. Political, ethnic, religious or inter-generational divisions will lead to nowhere, only towards a steady path of mutually assured destruction. Do we want to live to fight another day, in a country that belongs to all of us and in which we are all stakeholders? Do we want to allow anger, resentment, lies and hatred to consume us till we and our children become beggars in foreign lands? Do we want to burn everything and everyone down and be Kings and Queens over the ashes? Do we want to take careful note of our history and those of other African countries and the generations it has taken for them to recover from wars? The choice lies with each and every one of us. I choose peace. I choose to engage. I choose to include. I choose to speak up. I choose to tell the truth to whoever needs to hear it, both old and young. I chose the kind of future I want my children to thrive in; a life of hope, not despair. Make a choice. Take a stand.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is the First Lady of Ekiti State, and she can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com


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13 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: Make A Choice. Take A Stand.

  1. Olufolake November 2, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    This is deep and coming from the quarters it’s coming from, I will say this is bravery

  2. Ojo Dayo November 2, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Thank you for speaking up and saying the truth
    I hope others in government will be able to be as sensibly good as you are

  3. Rita November 2, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    In as much as I want to say good and fine, I don’t know why I am not so good because indeed we cannot depend on words alone.
    You people have the power to implement, please do

  4. Gloria Maduka November 2, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    If only those we elected would be accountable. We wouldn’t be here. God help our land.

  5. Jeremy November 2, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    That demonizing part, hmm. That’s a long route o. People have been beaten and battered. There is no trust again. People don’t trust anyone again as long as they belong to any other parties that have ruined our nation so we wouldn’t blame them. The road to freedom is long.

  6. Olalekan November 2, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Ma, that Cacovid part ehn. Na your own you know o. Some states deliberately hoarded theirs o.

  7. Maryam Suleiman November 2, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    ma, Nigerians are sad. The hunger in the land is too much. There is a hike in everything. People are angry and hungry.

  8. Ruth Agnes November 2, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    hmmmmmm… I am lost for words

  9. Femi Ogundipe November 2, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    the long and short of all that has been happening is that the people do not trust the government and the looting thingie, na some of these bad politicians ooo. They paid hoodlums to cause havoc.

  10. Mope Philippe November 2, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    Thank you for speaking about Lekki. Thank you

  11. Femi Diipo November 2, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    I love how you always speak up about anything and everything and the transparency these page exudes. Truly, there’s just so many issues in this country and it has made animals of alot of people. Of course there are different views and opinions on this matter but that shouldn’t truncate facts.
    Peace is non-negotiable and we all must choose this and encourage it in others. Whatever path we will choose towards a better future for this country, we shouldn’t destroy ourselves to get there

  12. DSEED November 3, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Thank you ma, this coming from you means alot. Leaders has failed woefully. Nothing is working in the country and we are all tired. Our goat has been pushed to the wall…

  13. toyin Ajao November 5, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Profound and factful. Thanks for shedding light on the palliative misinformation and for pointing us in the direction of justice-seeking re #LekkiMassacre.


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