As the #EndSARS protests continue to gather momentum there is suspicion that either the protests being held across the country are politically motivated or have a tacit support of some prominent Nigerians who want to cash on from the situation for their own political benefit. The proponents of this theory agree that government has already yielded to the protesters’ demand, scrapped the notorious police unit and replaced it with Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).
Also, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, announced the dismissal of over 36 members of the disbanded SARS who were found guilty in the course of exercising their duties. Further to the IG directives, the dissolved SARS officers are to report to the Force Headquarters and undergo psychological test to ascertain their mental fitness. Notwithstanding, this assurance from IG and apology tendered by the Vice president, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, has fallen on deaf ears of the Nigerian youths. The protests have continued unabated with the likelihood it will turn violent and affect the peace and harmony of the country. It seems the current ongoing protests go beyond the SARS brutality. Any aggrieved party that takes to the street protesting must have an objective for doing so. In 2012, the #Occupy Nigeria protest was borne out on the need for government to maintain fuel subsidy which it contemplated to remove. The protesters demanded that government should not abolish subsidy, but instead check the corruption bedeviling the subsidy regime.
Although, some opposition politicians took part in the protest which raised question of its sincerity, it quickly ended when government agreed to probe the subsidy spending. I think the present protesters have already registered their displeasure or grievances to the government on the activities of the defunct SARS which border on extra judiciary killings, extortion and human right abuses. Interestingly, government has swiftly agreed to their request and bowed to pressure by dissolving the SARS. Now, there is no more SARS. Unless the protesters have ulterior motives, they should simply disperse and regroup if government’s new SWAT turns to bird of the same feather with former SARS. Are the protesters in doubt about the newly created SWAT that will replace SARS? Let them wait and see how it will debut. However, Nigerian youths should be commended. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, they have spoken in unison against impunity.
The protest has lit the candle of social, economic and political emancipation across the country. It has sent strong warning to the ruling elite. The youths are simply saying things will not continue to be like before.
The protesters have denied Soware, the publisher of Sahara Reporters and advocate of “Revolution Now” any chance to address them. This is to avoid politicising the cause. The Nigerian youths should remain resolute and steadfast. They should not allow themselves to be manipulated by self-centered elite who are the architect of their current woes. While the country is practicing democracy which rules out any possible brutal regime changes, unless through periodic elections, the youths should form a political party to challenge the older generation. The country’s 60 years of independence and 21 years of uninterrupted democracy have failed to transform it to el-dorado of sort. The country’s economy favours few with the majority wallowing in abject poverty. The #EndSARS protest is a tipping point on the need for more revolution against insecurity and bad governance.
Ibrahim Mustapha, Pambegua, Kaduna state. 08169056963.