Before January 9, 2012, if it ever happened that I awoke from a dream wherein I had seen Nigerians protesting en masse for their rights, I would have busted into a resounding laughter. I would have gone to stand before a large mirror and say to the reflected image, “You are hallucinating in your dreams. You know that has never happened before. These people have not suffered neither do they suspect that their government is cheating them.” But I was glad to have been proven wrong. I am deeply grateful to all those who ridiculed what I would have thought if I had had that dream.

A portion of the average Nigerian’s heart has changed and that means change has began. Once the strike started, I knew the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) was going to get tired. They always do and you cannot blame them.
The NLC I have seen over the years only fight to reduce the workers’ sufferings. They never eliminate them. The leaders of NLC are men who have families and would not love to die. And it is absurd to want to die anyhow anyway. Again, you cannot hold such prime positions and lead millions of workers to cripple the nation’s economy and not have your life threatened.

In a nation where leaders abuse one another on newspapers and threaten to kill one another during so-called official meetings, activists are unlikely to be unthreatened. While that does not mean that NLC leaders had their lives threatened, it suggests how difficult it is for them to function in the presence of democrat-summoned zombie soldiers and rottweiler militants. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) could not have done better. In fact, they most likely did less than NLC. Even from the way their name sounds, TUC, you would guess they are not really activists or insistent individuals. They are seemed more like business persons and trade workers who just wanted to see if the fuel subsidy decision would be reversed. And, I did not expect much from both parties, NLC and TUC, in the first place.

But when the eventful days that followed the January 8 declaration of fuel subsidy removal caught hold of me, I quickly wore a hat and doffed it for all fellow protesters. Why? I realised that Nigerian youths were no longer fools seeking banana fruits on mango trees. Most of those that were “scapegoated” during the elections renounced their commitments and expressed their disappointment.

I honour all the market women who were not even sure what fuel subsidy meant but rightly knew deep in their hearts that its absolute removal would not only bring their children bad luck but also send they themselves into magnified poverty. I overheard the reality joke of how a market woman was indulging some youths to strip the “subsidy” naked and beat the hell out of him once they found him.

More importantly, I paid and still pay tribute to all the youthful principalities that appeared on protest grounds. All those who carried placards and all those who spoke their minds on TV truly earned my reverence. Though this time was truly not the time of the youths, it was a rehearsal for the future. Protests should be peaceful and the truth, spoken. The future is near and we will wait to vote again!

Right now, Nigeria is more like an experimental specimen undergoing economic remodelling. We are now under reconstruction, debt-wise. We are in debt as a nation because our custodians borrowed monies from foreign money lenders and put most of them in their own pockets. They bought themselves luxuries and forgot that we lack good roads, quality education, social infrastructure and proper health care facilities. They have nothing to lose anyway because they live above the standard of living in our country. They fly abroad in ecstasy and return here, thinking parochially about how to discipline themselves and do true exploits. They cannot see in their minds that the white man’s environment which they often visit as delegates and government tourists can really be replicated here. They do not know or ever care to guess what the future will be like for their so-called leaders of tomorrow.

But now, we are no longer fools because we have stood for our rights. We are no longer slaves because we will request for what we deserve. And we will no longer tolerate nuisance leadership because our situation says we cannot afford it. Yes, we have heard the calming speeches of our economic experts, the blessed ones that call us brothers and sisters on facebook. We have seen their charts and read the statistics of how we will all clean up our leaders’ mess.

Now, we will wait to see the magic wand work. And, it had better work because we are also praying for you. It had better change our national predicament because the Nigerian youths I see these days brood with red anger.

Dear fellow patriots, pray for our country and work for its betterment. But if someone comes up in 2015, telling you he had no shoes or schoolbags or anything you too never had or probably even had in excess, please remember that life is not always about piety, pity or luck. It is about a sensible non-extravagant agenda. A man who becomes the president of a country can become nothing greater than that in that country. Or, what else could he be aiming at? The Grand Commander and Chief of fellow widowers? I think not.

So, one should be moved to wonder why he would fear certain persons or say some living things are untouchable. Why should he even show that he is very afraid of those who are killing his own people? If he is afraid, then we, his followers, are expected to all shut down with nervous shocks. I speak no less and write no more of icons that should never be emulated. Yet, even if they recharge, repaint and rename themselves, friends, beware of cabals, cartels and pilfering democratic parties. If in the coming years, you remember the hardship they gave you this year, you’d be half-way to voting the right persons.

James Lisandro from Lagos Nigeria

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