These are terrible times in Egypt. Things couldn’t be worse. So it must have come as a consolation of some sorts when news floated up there that some empathetic souls congregated in the vibrant city of Kano to protest in their behalf.
Yes, I kid you not. With all of the problems currently bedevilling poor dear Nigeria, a few Nigerians, after having filled their stomachs with tuwo, pounded yam and pure water, inflicted themselves on the busy streets of Kano, asking that someone somewhere reinstate deposed Mr Morsi as the President of Egypt.
The protesters gathered themselves together in what they called a mass rally in front of the Kofa Mata mosque. The average age of the people protesting and carrying over sized placards is no more than 9 years old. Most of them were shoeless. They huddled together glumly, staring uncomprehendingly into the cameras. I can bet the farm that most of those youngsters cannot spell ‘Egypt’ or point to where the country is on any map. You have to wonder where their parents were.
The children protesters weren’t content in merely asking for Mr Morsi to be reinstated. They also called for the immediate trial of the military leaders that gave Morsi the heave-ho. They asked that the military leaders be tried at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
Very impressive. I was surprised they did not demand for the death penalty. However, their leader, one Sheik Mujahid proclaimed in a chest thumping fashion that, “Morsi MUST return to his position as President.” But so far, Mr Mujahid hasn’t revealed what he would do if the Egyptian leaders and people ignore him.
For me, this one is a veritable head-scratcher. First of all, Nigeria has no business lecturing anybody about the restoration of democratic rule or the termination of military regimes as we did absolutely nothing about that here. Military Heads of State came and went in Nigeria as they pleased. They either fought and overthrew themselves, or they keeled-over in office. Other times, they simply passed the baton in an inelegant manner from one General to another after they have chopped so much, a greedy bone lodged dangerously and indelicately in an oesophagus or two. Throughout that long and sad period, I don’t recall seeing children or even adults protesters on the streets of Kano asking for democracy.
Could it be because of religion? But there have been other leaders who were Muslims who have been sent packing in other climes – especially recently, and I don’t think there was anyone in Kano or elsewhere in Nigeria who sweated too much or missed a meal because of those. So why now? Why Egypt?
The Kano protesters cried out that they believe in “fairness and the promotion of democratic ideals.” But Boko Haram has been promoting its own brand of democratic ideals in some parts of northern Nigeria, including Kano. Police stations are routinely sacked, properties are regularly bombed, and human beings are frequently slaughtered in Kano and elsewhere. Officially, deaths caused by Boko Haram stands at 3,600 lives. And Boko Haram is, in part, calling for the termination of a democratic government here in Nigeria, yet I never heard a peep from any protesters down there.
Some people think that democracy is achieved simply by the conduct of elections. It is not. In fact, elections are only the beginning of a true democratic journey. Adolf Hitler was elected in Germany; look at what his election wrought on the German people and on the rest of the world.
Democracy includes the maintenance and the nurturing of effective State structures and organs in an efficient and fair manner. Democracy involves listening to your people and acting in everyone’s behalf. That is, the leadership must be accountable to the people, and human rights must be respected.
Morsi came into office after a very hard fought battle and a very costly struggle by the Egyptian people. Early into his tenure, Morsi appropriated the powers of the judiciary because he didn’t want to be challenged as he unfurled his policies. One year into his presidency, everything around Morsi has crashed. The Egyptian economy flat-lined. Public services declined. The country went bankrupt. As at the end of June, the stock market has hit an eleven-month low. Fuel and gas shortage suddenly became the norm. In a country that boasts a high number of intellectuals, a huge middle class and a secular, liberal elite, unemployment ran unchecked until it eventually got out of hand. NEPA invaded Egypt and there were daily blackouts. To make matters worse, Morsi showed not even the tiniest ability or inclination to address those types of issues. Rather, the man clobbered together an Islamist constitution and started to ram it down the throat of every Egyptian – Muslim or not.
As hunger invaded Egypt again after more than two millennia, Morsi simply occupied himself with trying to islamise his country. There was even one unelected cleric, I think he was the head of his party, the Muslim Brotherhood, already being addressed as Supreme Leader, à la Iran. Religious intolerance and abhorrence were introduced under Morsi. It was under his watch that even intra-Muslim hatred took hold. Dislike for the Shiite Muslims by the Sunnis grew and things began to take on the colouration of life in Iraq, Pakistan and other such places. After one year of this, most Egyptians have had enough.
The average Egyptian just wanted food, a good job and to be left alone in peace. Morsi wasn’t able to deliver any of these. Instead, and predictably, the man declared war on the media and on critical voices. Before anyone knew what time it was, people were being physically intimidated, being tortured, and being hauled off to jail for ‘insulting the President,’ for ‘insulting Islam,’ for ‘reporting false news,’ etc, etc. Things got so bad so quickly that most Egyptians became quite horrified by the ‘Brotherisation’ of their country.
Truth is, Morsi’s was a government crying out to be deposed in a liberal-leaning Egypt. The man was frostily incompetent and was taking Egypt in a direction most of his countrymen didn’t care for. So I’m bemused at the Kano protesters, their sponsors, and their motivation. Really I am. What do they care what type of government leads Egypt? How does that impact their lives here in Nigeria?
Is it that a crippled Egyptian economy translates to the availability of cheaper child brides for some of our big men? I mean, the only recent link I could see between Nigeria and Egypt is that we have a daughter-in-law from there courtesy of Sani Yerima, that midwife of made-in-Nigeria Sharia.
I truly cannot remember when Egyptians – or anyone else for that matter – hit their streets in protest because of political events in Nigeria. But here, we have Sani’s wife age-mates being used as cannon fodder in Kano. Why?