Opinion

Like George Floyd, Nigerians Can’t Breathe

By Eric Elezuo

The video which went viral depicting a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of a suspect until he died did not only sent chills down the spines of well meaning individuals, it created a yet to be answered question on ‘where is humanity’?

On Monday, May 25, 2020, the Minneapolis Police department received a call from a store, reporting a supposed felon, who was allegedly issuing a fake cheque for his purchases. The man, 46 year-old George Floyd, was immediately handcuffed and taken into custody at the arrival of the officers of the Police Department. The video did not show any evidence of a struggle between the black gentleman, and the officers.

Floyd was later pinned to the ground, close to the tyre of the police patrol car, with his hands cuffed behind his back. The arresting officer, who was identified as Derek Chauvin, then placed his knees on his neck against the hard surface. Floyd protested in pains, but he couldn’t move his body as the entire weight of Chauvin flowing into his knees rested on his windpipe in addition to the immobility of his cuffed hands. His protest now coming in muffled speech of ‘I can’t breathe’ and his breathe coming in irregular spasm, Floyd was gradually going numb. But Chauvin and his co travellers showed no mercy. Onlookers, who noticed the pains Floyd was in prevailed on the officers to release from his neck since he was already in custody and harmless, but they paid no heed. A particular bystander pleaded, and asked that his pulse be check, when he noticed that Floyd was no longer moving, but the officers refuse. And suddenly, the man went completely numb. He was dead. They showed him mercy. A visit to the hospital afterwards was to fulfill all righteousness and get a confirmation. An innocent soul was killed in broad day light for no just cause.

The death of Floyd for no verifiable offence amid his pathetic plea of I can’t breathe, is a typical situation with Nigerians. For years, the government has compelled the citizens to tighten belts in the face of obvious hardship, dearth of infrastructure, social amenities and all the rest including education. But the authorities, even with the plea we can’t breathe, has continued to tighten the noose, or this time the knee to the neck of hapless Nigerians.

In the education, Nigerians can’t breathe as Academic Staff Union of Universities and other educational unions are constantly at loggerheads with the government over one issue or another, and so strikes have become the order of the day.

The health institutions have completely suffocated the people, as hospitals are more like glorified mortuaries. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse as more deaths have recorded from other sources other than the pandemic. No health worker seem to care about a patient for fear of the disease. No one is listening. The only health matter at the moment is to listen to the new cases of coronavirus every night. Nigerians can’t breathe!

The Police are out there snuffing life out of citizens either from accidental discharge or outright shooting over refusal to part with bribe as low as N20. Nigerians can’t breathe!

In the last couple of days, almost all Nigerians, especially in Lagos State, turned members of vigilance group as bold faced armed robbers, who called themselves one million boys, threaten the peace of residents. Nigerians can’t breathe!

A journey of not more than 15 minutes will take a motorist or commuter as much as three hours to complete because of the dilapidated nature of the roads which breeds unprecedented traffic jam. Nigerians can’t breathe!

It is no longer news that every Nigerian resident is the sole provider of his own electricity, water, education, road and many more. Nigerians can’t breathe, and yet the knee is pressing harder down the neck. And like Floyd, the voice is becoming muffled, the breath is coming in spasm, movement is highly impossible, and soon silence may occur. Who cares?

Please take urgent steps cause Nigerians, like Floyd, can’t breathe!

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