The Platform

Nigerian police officer stationed in Somalia. (Tobin Jones)

Nigerians are exhausted so it’s no surprise that an empowering slogan would take off.

The phrase “no gree for anybody” became a viral sensation on Twitter as Nigerians approached the new year with a message of personal empowerment. The slogan, which roughly translates to a refusal to be subjugated or to accept undue influence, resonated as a declaration of independence and self-determination.

However, this grassroots affirmation did not sit well with Nigerian security forces. Perceiving the phrase as subversive, they interpreted it as a direct challenge to their authority.

A January report from The Nation, a local news outlet, countered this view, indicating the slogan posed minimal threat to national stability or security forces.

The report detailed, “The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has warned that the ‘no gree for anybody’ slogan being used by youths can lead to crises in the country. The ‘no gree for anybody’ catchphrase has gone viral on social media platforms and on the streets.”

During a media session, police spokesperson Muyiwa Adejobi expressed concerns sourced from intelligence reports, suggesting the slogan might spark significant upheaval.

Abdul Qodir Yusuf, a student, and proponent of the phrase, interprets it as a positive affirmation. He told me, 2024 will be a better year for him. “I normally do use the slang to motivate myself at the beginning of 2024, to stay focused and determined in the face of any challenges that come my way, and it can also remind me to stay true to myself and my goals, no matter what anyone else says.”

Toyin Adam shares this benign interpretation, asserting that the slogan’s essence is a call for accountability, justice, and egalitarianism, not an incitement to disorder. Toyin added that he understood that the slogan was originally meant to unite and empower the people, to stand strong and face their fears and not allow anything to weaken them.

Echoing this sentiment, Sahara Reporters highlighted a statement from the Nigerian military headquarters, the DHQ. The DHQ has co-opted the term, urging a collective stand against terrorism: “No gree for terrorists.” Addressing the media, Edward Buba, Director of Defence Media Operations, implored citizens to be vigilant and proactive in reporting suspicious activities, assuring military responsiveness to such intelligence.

“We aim to find and destroy the terrorists wherever they may be hiding to ensure their enduring defeat. This would deny the terrorists the ability to terrorise or hurt citizens across the country. Our operations indicate that we are hunting the terrorist commanders and their senior leadership. Indeed, from their topmost leadership to the lowest commanders are dead men walking and we will stop at nothing until they are dead or surrender,” Buba declared, emphasizing the military’s commitment to neutralize the terrorist threat.

Yusuf Abdulbasit Hozaifah is a Nigerian journalist.