George Floyd’s death: Reflections and Lessons for Nigerians

George Floyd’s death has been the top of the mind news for almost a month now if you are not aware. George, a US black citizen aged 46, was arrested outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the USA on May 5, over an alleged fake $20 bill. Video footage of the arrest showed Chauvin, the police officer kneeling on his neck while Floyd begged for air until he died. There have been massive protests and unrest across places in America as a result of this even up to this moment.

It is not uncommon to hear Nigerian elites, in a bid to want change, compare Nigeria with developed nations like America. Truly, Nigeria has her 1999 constitution patterned after America’s presidential system of government, however, there are many other ways she needs to be like America. Although, some of the similarities we share are in our vast cultural and ethnic diversities. The United States of America also has deeply disturbing racial issues. However, a lesson Nigerians must learn is to, not only be outspoken but also ‘out-acting’. Whenever racial discrimination happens, Americans become outraged and take serious actions. They can go on many days of protests in order to press the government to do the needful. It’s totally different from Nigeria. The best Nigerians do is talk, talk, and talk. Nigerians need to understand that until they ACT, the government will not be forced to do the right things. Almost every day in Nigeria, you hear of massacre and the citizens keep quiet in taking serious actions. We appear callous when under-aged girls are abducted and are forcibly converted to Islam and married off without the consent of their parents. The best we have had is some groups protesting. Until we take our destiny in our hands, the complaints may continue for centuries.

The massive protests in America are unlike the situation in Nigeria where law enforcement officers regularly kill citizens and nothing happens after. They, never take nonsense. They would come out in large and overwhelming numbers. The protests, looting, and general anarchy that followed George Floyd’s death led to the declaration of curfews in over 40 American cities. Even the powerhouse of America – the White House – was nearly overrun by angry citizens.

Apart from Chauvin being charged with 2nd-degree murder and manslaughter, other police officers across racial divides had to take to their knees in a posture of solidarity with the protesters and a sign of apology for Floyd’s murder. The one-knee salute has become a worldwide symbol of rebuke for anti-Black racism.

But see the case of the 22-year-old undergraduate, Vera Omozuwa. She was gang-raped and murdered. Tina Ezekwe, another young lady, was killed by policemen in Lagos, while in Jigawa State, a 12- year-old minor was raped by a gang of 12 led by a 57-year-old man. These things happen almost every day and some of them are merely subjects for discussion without justice for the victims.

Nigerians must take a cue from the American people. It is not enough for us to have similar constitutions. Our destinies are in our hands, and not in the hands of any politician. The national honour that Floyd received on his memorial service on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, should be a take-home lesson for us.

George Floyd's death George Floyd's death

Wake up, Nigeria!


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