New Orleans It’s small world. Marva Burnett, the president of ACORN Canada and ACORN International, visited several cities in Nigeria last year with her church group. She met a young man named Edem Etido in Port Harcourt, a large city much farther southwest from Lagos, the mega-city, but also along the Gulf of Guinea, nearer to Cameroon. I talked to Edem via Skype about his interest in organizing ACORN Nigeria, and how we could get him some training. I promised to visit him when I was scheduled to be in Nigeria. The pandemic postponed that visit three times with the latest now pushed back to the spring of 2021, but in the last week I’ve heard from Edem several times via Facebook and email. Protests have broken out in Port Harcourt and throughout the country, triggered initially over police brutality suffered by young people, but now expanding to a host of other issues over corruption, the economy, and the inaction of government.
His message was simple and straightforward, as he wrote,
The youths in my country need international support for what we are advocating for at the moment. I guess you’ve heard or watched the protest that’s ongoing in Nigeria now?
The hashtag that’s trending on Twitter now #EndSars #EndPoliceBrutality is the ongoing protest by the youths here because, the (SARS) which means-Special Anti-Robbery Squad, have gone out from what their primary duties are, which is to protect lives and properties of the Nation and citizens. All they do is intimidate, harass, and extort youths at gunpoint while also killing youths for no reason, because nobody is gonna query or prosecute them.
We’ve been on this for more than a week now and all our governments could do is just make verbal and audio promises which they have been doing way back since 2015 and we are fed up with fake promises, so we demand full action, and that’s why the protest is ongoing.
We just heard that they are going to send the military to intimidate and shoot at us for the peaceful protest. No country has said anything about this and it’s not fair. I don’t know how ACORN International could help to make this protest go round over there, so as to get the international attentions we need.
If I hadn’t heard of these protests already from Edem, and if you hadn’t heard of them yet, there was a front page picture that jumped later to a story in the Wall Street Journal, because the protests shut down the city of Lagos along with its airport and main thoroughfares.
How can we help? There’s a petition that the young people hope to send to the United Nations that you can sign. You can also make a donation to support the protests. As the article points out, “More than 55% of Nigerians are underemployed or unemployed and youth unemployment is even higher, according to official statistics. More than 90% of Nigerians work in the informal sector….” People in Nigeria are desperate for change, so anything we can do, small or large, helps make that possible.