Monday, April 6

Op-Ed: How sponsored protests are breeding a monster in Abuja – Somtoo Okoye

Op-Ed: How sponsored protests are breeding a monster in Abuja - Somtoo Okoye Blog What's Hot


Certain politicians allegedly organized and paid a group of boys to rig election for them in 2007. After winning the elections, they no longer needed the services of these boys so they chased them away. With no source of income in sight, these boys went into the bush and started kidnapping people. Today, the boys are known as Boko Haram and they are the most dangerous terrorist group in the world, gruesomely kidnapping, executing, killing and maiming hundreds if not thousands of civilians and soldiers every year.

Today, when I see various headlines like “protest against Amnesty International”, “protest against Justice Odili”, “protest against Deji”, “protest against Sowore,” “protest for One Nigeria” in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria, I open these article and the pictures I see there all have one thing in common: the people in the protests are poor-looking, illiterate street boys who mostly come from various nearby states in Northern Nigeria.

Op-Ed: How sponsored protests are breeding a monster in Abuja - Somtoo Okoye Blog What's Hot
Caught In The ACT: Anti-Amnesty Protesters Collecting Money In Abuja, March 22 2017.

Some of them come all the way from Mali, Chad and Niger Republic to be part of these organized “protests” where they are promised to be rewarded after the protest. Sometimes few hours after the “protest”, we hear that someone – probably a middleman – absconded with the funds by which the organizers of the protests are meant to settle these street boys. In more than one occasion, we have seen some of these boys cry foul on camera, stating that they were promised 1000 naira per person (sometimes N500 per head) for a protest but were not duly compensated at the end of it. Sometimes these guys get involved in a free-for-all fight when sharing the monetary benefits coming from organizers.

My focus is not how much the sponsored protesters are paid or how their largeese are shared. The focus is on how some rich persons are setting a bad trend for society. When these boys are out of sponsored protests to partake in, would they find a more noble occupation to practice or would they form Boko Haram 2.0 right in the middle Nigeria?

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