What's Happening in Nigeria and Why Should You Care?

Generally, it can be really easy for us to be caught up in the bubble of our own issues and not really consider what’s going on around the world. Given the recent political climate of the US, this is true now more than ever. However, it’s important to stay aware of what’s going on in places outside of our border, especially when people are suffering and lives are at stake. Much like the world had our back during Black Lives Matter protests this summer, it’s our turn to return the favor.

protest sign that says Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Nigerians have been seeing violence and protests for weeks now as they speak out against the corrupt Special Anti-Robbery Squad or SARS. SARS is part of the police force in Nigeria and is notorious for its brutality and illegal killings. While people have carried resentment at the squad for a while, the breaking point was shortly after October 3rd, when a video went viral that showed a man being shot and killed by SARS. Similar to what we saw in the US over the past few months, Nigerians were fed up with the violence and death at the hands of law enforcement and began protesting. Within a few days of the video going viral, massive protests broke out throughout the country that called for the ending of SARS. As a result of these protests, many around the world have responded and held vigils and protests in solidarity with those in Nigeria.

Shortly after the protests broke out, Nigeria’s president announced the dissolution of SARS. However, the force then went on to be replaced by a new unit called SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), which would perform the same duties as SARS. Additionally, it’s suspected that former SARS members will also be a part of the new SWAT force, signifying no real difference between the two forces. Because of Nigerians’ skepticism, the protests continue, growing more violent. The refusal of protestors to let up in Lagos resulted in Nigerian forces firing at the protestors in the city, with at least 12 being killed.

Nigerians have been begging for police reform, and in return have seen an upswing of violence, creating awareness that the Nigerian government may not be fit to do their jobs. With the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices, many Nigerians are unemployed and see little opportunity to find jobs. With that, tensions have only increased between the citizens and the government. The anger of Nigerian protestors is being fueled by the government's inability to resolve the issues affecting the country. As a result, the destruction continues and the frustration of the Nigerian citizens continues to grow.

Nigerians are crying out for help, and it’s important for the world to listen. While most of the funds from Nigeria are not accepting donations, we can all still help Nigeria by staying informed and speaking out. Use the #EndSARS on social media to not only keep up with what is going on in Nigeria but to speak up and show Nigerians that they are not alone in their fight.

iPhone showing instagram on a table with a plant next to it Photo by Alex Bracken from Unsplash