There was a huge riot yesterday in the streets of Lagos. Apparently an “okada” driver (commercial motorcyclist) was shot and killed by a Naval Police officer because he had inadvertently scratched the officer’s car.
Hundreds of other okada drivers protested this atrocious killing by burning the perpetrator’s car and beating him into a coma. They also destroyed a number of shops and nearby properties in a fit of rage over the terrible incident. More gunshots were fired as members of the Nigerian Police Force attempted to rescue the Naval officer from the hands of the mob. He narrowly escaped death and is currently in the custody of the police.
While I was in the office later that afternoon, I could see through the window an entire fleet of okada drivers still in the streets chanting for justice and waving palm leaves in a show of discontent.
I know that Lagos can sometimes be dangerous but for me it has never felt as bad as how CNN or other international media usually make it seem. There are days when life in Lagos does not seem any different from the usual hustle and bustle you would find in places like New York or Detroit.
However, contrary to the situation in the US, so many ordinary Nigerian citizens have been lacking so many basic necessities for so long. As a result, it seems like a certain number of them have come to the conclusion that violence may be the only way to get justice, employment, running water, electricity, education…It’s like violence is the only way to get society’s attention and remind everyone that there is still something fundamentally wrong with the current status quo.
What happened that day on the streets of Lagos, the terror attacks in London, the suicide bombings in Egypt, the continued deterioration of the situation in Iraq…these are all manifestations of a much deeper problem. It is clear that we cannot keep on reacting to the symptoms and neglect to address the root causes of violence.
In the case of Nigeria, I just pray that the general societal discontent does not deteriorate into full-blown war. That is the last thing this country and Africa as a whole needs.
Posted By Malia Mayson (Nigeria)
Posted Jul 29th, 2005