By Toni Itabiyi
Nigerian international pop star, Runtown has just released an opinion piece in The Guardian that found him addressing newly-elected politicians about the state of Nigeria and the responsibility that rests on them to make the country conducive for young Nigerians.
In the article titled “Newly Elected Leaders Have An Urgent Task To Avert a Looming National Catastrophe”, the singer explained that the continuous case of police brutality and poor infrastructure puts Nigeria at risk of destruction.
See takeaways from the article below
This Is Not the Time for Political Funfair
In Runtown’s view, poor infrastructure, low opportunities and a broken security system has caused Nigeria to become an inconducive clime and as a result, newly-elected leaders should step into the office with the realization that this poses an enormous degree of responsibility on them.
In his words; “Imperative for Incoming leaders, both elected and appointed, to note is that there is a hanging duty to deflate the rising tension that stems from police brutality and an urgent need to make Nigeria livable for the youth.”
Leaving Nigeria Has Become the Nigerian Dream
The singer pointed out that now more than ever, Nigerians are seeking to leave the country because there is no promise of a certain future. “As it appears, saving up enough money to exit the country has now become the Nigerian dream. It has been said that the country loses a worrisome number of doctors to the UK, US and Canada every year and worse is that the Nigerian healthcare system is in dire need of doctors.”
Additionally, he cited an instance with the Nigerian kid that became a chess champion in New York after leaving Nigeria over Boko Haram terror. “I think about Tanitoluwa Adewunmi, the 10-year-old Nigerian boy who recently became a chess champion in the US after fleeing Nigeria with his parents over terrorist attacks by Boko Haram in the north. What would have been his fate had his parents not sought asylum in the US?”
SARS and Police Brutality Makes Everyone Unsafe
Runtown also spent a good amount of ink on the worrying case of police brutality in Nigeria. According to him, he fears that he might be a victim or worse, lose a loved one to the hands of the police. “My heart has recently been replete with rumblings as a result of fear. Fear for my safety and perhaps more intense, the fear of losing a loved one to what has now become an unceasing demonstration of negligence by some officers of the Nigerian Police Force.”
Celebrities Hire Police Security To Protect Themselves from Police Brutality
The singer added that even celebrities are not totally free from the scare of SARS. “Lucky me, I belong in the class of people who can sometimes afford special security. But it is puzzling that these days, we are pushed to sometimes hire men of the force to serve as security and protection against fellow officers.”
He Agrees that Crime Exists In Nigeria, But Officers Must Work with Intelligence
As Runtown puts it, “It is true that the country isn’t free of offenders. Agreeably, Internet-based crime is at an all-time high. But very needful to note is that legitimately conducted internet-based businesses are also at an all-time high.”
Furthermore, he says “Given the reality of today’s digital-driven world, law enforcement agencies must begin to deploy intelligence-driven tactics to carry out just and effective policing. Criminal detection should not be conducted solely based on a person’s appearance. Innocent young Nigerians should not be harassed, brutalized or worse, murdered over unimaginable reasons like owning a fancy smartphone or wearing an exotic hair-do.”
Nigerians are Being Pushed to the Wall and the Government Must Act Quickly
Runtown is convinced that the continuous harassment by police officers could one day lead us to a catastrophic reality. “I manage to tell myself every day that the activities around the recently-concluded general elections is perhaps responsible for swaying the attention of the government because her silence amid the outcry of Nigerians has been very loud. The people are being pushed to the wall and choked against it. There is an urgent need to curb this menace before we find ourselves in an avoidable national catastrophe.”
Can the Police Ever Become Our Friend?
The singer reminisces on the famous tagline; Police Is Your Friend but fears that this could never be a reality. “Growing up, we were told that the police is our friend but as the years go by, this promise has become more and more far fetched.”
Words of Hope
Runtown ended with words of hope, admonishing Nigerians to keep faith amid the seeming hopelessness of the Nigerian situation. “Although my spirit is enraged, my message isn’t that of outrage, it is one of faith. This is not an easy call, but I admonish everyone to choose hope because I know that the alternative is one that will leave us all in disarray.”
He ended; “In truth, my faith is shaky, but I look forward to a time when the sight of an armed officer will no longer inspire fear. A time when Nigeria will no longer lose its human assets and forward thinkers to other countries as a result of low pay, lack of infrastructure and general neglect. A time when elected leaders will begin to uphold integrity and deploy empathy.”
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