One of the wonders of the universe is the polarity of life. For every beginning, there is an ending. There is hot and cold; high and low; good and bad; light and darkness. It appears that for one to exist, an opposite must too. For instance, for us to appreciate the presence of light, it needs to appear in the midst of darkness.
I observed this timeless principle of life in the recent events in our country. The peaceful #EndSARS protest by youths demanding an end to police brutality was overtaken by angry youths who committed wanton acts of violence across the country. Whilst one group called for responsible action, the other displayed heights of irresponsibility. One was well organised, while the other riotous.
One was an act of heroism by youth demanding positive change in their country; the other committed despicable acts of destruction.
So it was that as stories of chaos, confusion, and carnage were rolling, so also were stories of courage, patriotism, and compassion. We heard and read stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to protect lives, to save lives, and to keep our communities safe. They are my definition of heroes; people who overcame fear and rekindled faith. People who showed that we, as a people, are better than the worst stories told about us.
I was specially moved by the story of Rabiu Garba, the Divisional Police Officer of Fegge in Onitsha. DPO Garba’s act of courage during the violence that broke out following the #EndSARS protest is heartwarming, encouraging, and worthy of praise. More inspiring were his display of empathy, humility and love as he walked his beat as an officer of the law prior to the #EndSARS protest. He stepped up and showed what leadership looks like. He is my hero.
I will tell more of his story in my next post. But, I want you to know that I am inspired by his story to create a movement to celebrate the heroes of the #EndSARS upheavals.
Just as there were some Nigerians showing their worst selves during this period, there were many of us also showing the best of humanity. I am starting this hashtag #EndSARSHeroes to recognise and celebrate those Nigerians who displayed kindness to others, went beyond their call of duty to protect and save lives, who were simply being human.
I am putting up N500,000 as a cash reward to 10 of the most compelling #EndSARSHeroes stories told on social media. This shall be paid by my @VCOFoundation.
It could be the health worker who stepped up to treat the wounded, the community leader who intervened to prevent violence in his community, the police officer or soldier who took positive steps to protect the vulnerable or other inspirational stories. The winning stories have to be real and verifiable.
This is not for the #EndSARS protesters who, in my view, are all heroes. Rather, it is to showcase our Nigerian Motto, “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress”. To highlight that in the worst of scenarios, the Nigerian spirit to unite as one, pursue peace and ensure progress shall always prevail.
So, there you go, I look forward to reading the stories of the #EndSarsHeroes around the country. Tweet at me with the inspiring story and the hashtag and let’s see where this takes us.
Remember, use the hashtag in telling your stories. God bless everyone.
Val Ozigbo is a governorship hopeful in Anambra State