#EndSARS protest: Counting the cost so far

It is high time we reflected on the gains (if any) and the obvious pains occasioned by theprolonged presence of the #EndSARS protesters on the streets of our cities.

Given the swift acceptance of the protesters’ 5-point demands by the Federal Government, and also the commitment shown by a number of state governments to constitute investigative panels to look into the alleged meanness of the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force on the citizenry, the expectation was that the protesters would retire from the streets and go home to jubilate their victory in the battle, especially, having achieved the desired disbandment of the SARS―coupled with the pledge made by the trio of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammadu Maigari Dingyadi, and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Muhammad Adamu, to reform the entire police force. But that expectation was suddenly shattered by heightened hooliganism in the name of protest.

It appears that persistence of the protest after the government acceded to the protesters’ demands, outlived its avowed purpose.

As a result, the restive youth seized the opportunity to embark on looting spree. Where this protest proves antithetical is that while the SARS was formed to rid the country of crimes, the criminal elements that marred the protest setfree their caged likes, by breaking into correctional facilities.Of course, voices of reasoning have dissected the legit protest from what is now seen as brigandage.

However, the criminal looters cashed in on the prolonged protest to reap where they did not sow.

SARS proscribed, criminal forces on the loose! This, yet, is not the biggest cost. We are still counting. The atmosphere has been tense! With the scourge of wanton destruction, arson, and invasion of private properties in some states of the federation, there is apparentbreak down of law and order plunging the country into state of the anarchy.

Looting is never known in the scheme of traditional protest anywhere in the world.

As one of the millions distressed Nigerian youth, I would not wish to downplay the sense of triumph being enjoyed by the tenacious protesters, following proscription of the SARS.

However, fighting the SARS is simply leaving the substance to follow the shadow. The youth have to understand that the SARS is one of the monsters bred by the appalling political system being operated in the country.

The SARS officers, too, are the victims of the zombie political class just as we are. Officers of the defunct SARS have reverted to wearing their normal uniform, and the game continues in different style.

Do we blame them when they succumb to the pressure put on them by politicians to release criminals from their net, and when they refuse they are threatened to be sacked? Do we blame them that they get intimidated by luxury cars at checkpoints for fear of the big men? Do we choose to ignore their plight to live on fixed meager salaries amid the ever rising tides of inflation?The youth must push the agitationsto go further to change the sorry narrative that confine them to pauperization, and fracture their future.

While all these persist, the authorities appear lacking in understanding factors at play―that Nigeria is failing. The meaning of the situation is seemingly unfathomable, until it unfolds itself―of course the metaphysics of a radical political change.Theyouth desire to secure their future by initiating a new political order that would go in tandem with the ideals of democracy.

Their discovery of the hoarded Covid-19 palliative food items has revealed who their real enemies are. Now that they have found power in their mass stand-up against their oppressors, they have found a strong bond.

The old shenanigans played by their oppressors to keep them divided will no longer work. They feel emboldened to struggle for a common purpose―self-liberation from the clutches of bad governance. They have broken and thrown away the chains that kept them in bondage for long.

While the youth deserve commendations for being steadfastness in their legitimate yearnings, bad eggs must be censured and warned not to continue their disturbance of the peace. A word is enough for the wise!

Said writes via [email protected]

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