Is Sanwo-Olu Trying To Walk On The Blood Of Lekki Tollgate Victims? By Israel Ojoko

December 3, 2021
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I am a Liverpool fan, and any time I read or hear the word ‘walk’ my mind feels good in solidarity with my great football club, the greatest in England, Europe, and the world. You are free to argue with your keypad, lol.

We won the UEFA Champions League in 2019 and was close to making it a double silverware that same season, but conceded the English Premier League title to Manchester City by just one point. A year later, we won the EPL with massive 99 points.

Liverpool’s slogan – You’ll Never Walk Alone – has resonated all over the world, and there’s even a song for it, which is perhaps the most famous song in football and is heard before kick-off at every Liverpool match at Anfield.

The story of the song and its association with Liverpool the team and the city, as well as many other footballing institutions, dates back to the 1960s. You’ll Never Walk Alone was written by Oscar Hammerstein II and composed by Richard Rodgers for their musical Carousel, which was released in the USA in 1945.

It later spawned a number of cover versions, the most successful of which in the UK was released by Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1963. Formed by and named after lead singer Gerry Marsden (pictured above), Gerry and the Pacemakers started out in 1959 and were part of the 1960s Merseybeat scene led by The Beatles.

Sometime around the time of the release of Gerry and the Pacemakers’ cover, the song was adopted by Liverpool FC. The accepted version of events is that Marsden presented a copy of the single to Reds manager Bill Shankly during a pre-season trip that same year and, according to Tommy Smith, a player at the time, Shankly was “in awe of what he heard”. The reporters traveling with the party subsequently sent word home that You’ll Never Walk Alone was the new club song and things developed from there.

The lyrics of the song are inspiring, full of hope in trying times, and quite encouraging. It says – When you walk through a storm,/Hold your head up high/And don’t be afraid of the dark/At the end of a storm/There’s a golden sky/And the sweet silver song of a lark/Walk on through the wind/Walk on through the rain/Though your dreams be tossed and blown – Walk on, walk on/With hope in your heart/And you’ll never walk alone.

I understand that Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu is an Arsenal fan, and may not be familiar with such a mind-blowing song that has been around for a very long time. His actions, inactions, and reactions during the October 20, 2020 EndSARS protest at the Lekki Tollgate and the days, weeks, months, and year after, clearly show a contrast of that Liverpool official club song.

There was a storm in October 2020, but a bigger storm on the 20th of that month that caused dark clouds in the lives of many till this moment. Sanwo-Olu could not hold his head up high, he took a decision that has now pit him against the larger population of Lagos State and every move he has made ever since to save face has failed woefully.

Instead of Sanwo-Olu walking into the golden sky at the end of the storm, his dreams have remained tossed and blown right from the moment men of the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful protesters who had gathered at the Lekki Tollgate, sitting on the floor and waving the Nigerian flag. The decision to call in the army has been Sanwo-Olu’s worst undoing. But Lagosians have other grievances – the governor could not stand the wind, he faltered in the rain, he initially denied calling for the army intervention.

Later, the army said the decision to call in the military was taken by the Lagos State Government after a 24-hour curfew was imposed. This revelation by the army infuriated the public and further paint Sanwo-Olu in a bad light, Lagosians felt betrayed, they have lost faith in their governor. Another area the governor failed to weather the storm was when he initially denied any death at the tollgate, but later told Arise TV that two deaths were recorded. However, he spoke from the other side of the mouth in his white paper by saying there was no massacre at the Lekki Tollgate after the judicial panel put the death toll at nine.

Sanwo-Olu’s continued denial, perceived carelessness for human lives, and inconsistency with the truth have done more damage than good to his person and administration, leaving the electorate to question his honesty. Perhaps his advisers are not telling him the truth. While wounds of EndSARS victims are still wide open and yet to heal, the governor is calling for a peace walk. How can there be a peace walk where the heart is weary with grievances, pain, and even hate?

A Yoruba proverb says, when trees fall upon trees, it is the one on top that would be removed first before getting to the bottom. Calling for a peace walk when you have refused to remove the woods at the top, is like making ridicule of people’s emotions, and rights.

Sanwo-Olu is not even a Liverpool fan, where does the idea of walking come from? I am sorry, the governor will have to walk alone or he’d better cancel that idea, it is the height of disregard and a slap on the faces of the masses who voted him into power.

I admire the fact that the governor is making effort to draw the people close, but unfortunately, he has hurt them so badly that they find it hard to forgive him. Another thing is he is not doing it the right way. This has really put his second-term wish under threat, that is if he has that ambition. He is walking on a tight rope, alone, and away from the statehouse.

Except miracle happens, except he shows some respect for the dead, I do not see Sanwo-Olu returning for a second term, that discussion should not even be on the table. Those that will vote for him are pained, their wounds are deep, they feel insulted, brushed aside and their right taken away. I will advise him to do his best in his one tenure and honorably take a bow, there is nothing left to remind Lagosians but the blood that was shed in October 2020.

Israel is a Nigerian journalist and can be reached via israelojoko14@gmail.com

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