This is a slang that broke out across major cities in Nigeria from the 8th of October 2020. It is a yoruba word that means: “be audible” or “speak up” today the 15th of October marks the eighth day of the protest. It was littered across placards along with the hashtag Endsars.
There have been deaths of protesters, over 40 peaceful protesters has been admitted in the hospital and the bruises on their bodies from the torrture that they received from the Nigerian police are gruesome.
Different tactics from the government has been employed to no avail. The question on the lips of government is who the leaders of these protests are and who is funding them? As at the time of this report, the feminist coalition group, a group of women on twitter have been able to raise 37million naira from different people donating to this protest.
The tactics that were employed by the government aside shooting peaceful protesters and throwing teargas at them, included planting thugs in the middle of the protesters. However the protesters were able to identify these hoodlums on time. They were beaten for choosing to betray the course, although none of them was killed, they were put in the ambulance by the protesters who beat them and taken to the hospital.
The surprising thing about the presence of these hoodlums, is that they were captured on camera boarding government owned commercial vehicles, and taken to the site of protest. The other ones that were caught in Abuja, were caught on camera, wielding clubs and passing right in front of officers of the Nigerian police force, and the officers didn’t bat an eyelid, even though they knew that the real protesters have been peaceful since the beginning of the protest.
Another tactic that was tried by the government was the oldest government strategy of divide and conquer. The government set up zoom meetings, and invited people who they thought were influential in the protest and tried to talk them into stopping the protests. The people said that there are no leaders in the protest and that whatever will be said, should be said in public for everyone to hear.
The government also shut down the account that funds were donated to and summoned a fintech company FlutterWave to ask them why they have a link that allows “terrorists” to donate to something that might crumble Nigeria as an entity. Then the Female coalition group opened a bitcoin account, and in two hours, people had donated one million naira through that medium.
They also tried to publicly bribe the protesters. Some governor said; “take four million naira” other said: “take two million for transport” and in broad daylight, the protesters said: “NO”
The government is in shock. Never in the history of Nigeria has there been any organic protest like this one. Deep down inside of them they were certain that this is a protest organized by the opposition party or some terrorist group. But to their greatest surprise, they are seeing that this is a protest of angry young people, who are tired of promises made that are never fulfilled. Young people who have never in their lifetime experienced what it is like to have a good life in their country.
To be fair, the government has responded to some demands. For example, when President Muhammad Buhari was asked to address the country, he did and made some salient points about reforms. The IGP has also done numerous press conferences to address the issue, and stated that some reforms will be made.
Governor Obiano of Anambra state has also fired the OC of the Anambra branch of SARS. one governor also visited the parents of JIMOH ISIAQU, an onlooker that was caught in the bullet of a police officer while they were shooting the peaceful protesters.
Also, in one of the protests, two police officers were caught on camera dragging two ladies who were protesting and beat them to a pulp. News reaching us now, is that the two officers have been arrested.
You would say, okay why do the protesters not back down now that it seems the government is listening to them and acting on their demands. I think that these stems from the hypocrisy that has been experienced from the government over the years. Time and time again, declarations have been made, and never followed through.
Example: The IGP said that SARS has been disbanded, but people still call into radio stations to say “I was travelling from Lagos to Asaba, and I was harassed by SARS. I asked them if they didn’t know that their unit has been disbanded, and they said: “when una taya to protest, una go go house”
Another incidence that is making people doubt if the government will keep to their word, is that two days after the IGP said that the unit has been disbanded, he announced that a new unit: SWAT has been formed. It became clear that the protesters are not being listened to. How do you create another unit, when you are not able to clean up the mess of an existing unit?.
Also, no police officer has been brought to book yet. Nobody has been held accountable for the rot in the police force yet. In fact, as the protest is going on, the SARS officers are still seen on the street without uniforms and AK-47, and have been captured on video feeds yelling at the top of their voices: “I go end your life and nothing go happen”
As at today, the 15th October 2020, Jack; the CEO of twitter has joined the call for the disbandment of that police force, the General overseer of one of the biggest churches in Nigeria; E.A Adeboye, has also lent a voice to the movement.
Across the country, the feeling is different, because some say there is a reason why the protests do not have leaders, because those leaders will be set up for death or disappearance. However, even though that is good, we need people to negotiate with the government, before the morale of the protest will fizzle out, and we would lose sight of what the protest was about in the first place
Others have said, it is time to leave the young people alone. They will figure this out and take charge of the country like they were suppose to a long time ago. Plus there is food in all protest ground across the country. They say that there is no way that focus and energy will be lost, if there is food everyday.
I really don’t know if this will yield the result that we need: the need for the Nigerian youth to be heard in their country, and be involved in policy making. Because the older ones see it as effrontery. Like how dare children demand that they do things right? This conclusion stems from an utterance that was made by Femi Adesina: a member of the leading government. He said: “these are jobless boys and girls just making noise on the street” younger people making demands is everything against the African culture, because here, we are made to believe that the older folks know what they are doing
Perhaps they know what they are doing, but can 80million people be wrong at the same time? Are these not the same “children ” that become electorate when it is time to vote? What is wrong in asking for accountability from the people who have asked you to take care of the shared national resources for them?
Soro soke could mean many things at this time. It could be:
The coordination that the youths have exhibited in getting food and refreshment to protesters across the country.
The efforts to release protesters from police custody no matter what it takes
Covering the events and documenting the stories as they happen
Giving accountability on how the money that was raised has been spent so far
Medical personnel on ground giving treatment for free
Protesters giving police officers who are protecting them food and drinks on the ground of the protest
People who keep sleeping on the protest ground
People who keep spreading the word on twitter and other social media platform
Covering the cost of damaged cars that were destroyed by hired thugs
Paying for private security to protect protesters against government intruders
Agitating for an increase in police salaries
Praying about the protest on protest ground
Marrying on protest ground
Making demands that will benefit everybody
Cleaning after the protest
Organizing and reorganizing, and being resilient through it all.
Everybody is speaking up. SORO SOKE!!!