$EndSARS protest: Matters arising

Rational Expectation Theory was formulated by John F. Muth. The theory tends to predict future occurrence by looking at the current economic situation. The theory explains that the decision of individual is base on three primary factors: their human rationality, the information available to them, and their past experiences. It suggests that people’s current expectations of the economy are, themselves, able to influence what the future state of the economy will become. The theory is often used by economist to predict anticipated future inflation rate of a country.

Father of democracy, Abraham Lincoln, asserts, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”  If the speech of Lincoln is viewed from the perspective of rational theory, we can deduce that his speech is on track, since the theory did not assert that an error may not occur on the prediction!
Nigeria is a country of diverse religions and tribes. And all ethnic groups and the religions are doing their best to protect the interest of their followers. In an effort to do that, they employ various means and strategies. This struggle led to widespread ethno centric jingoism,  fanaticism, favouritism and prioritizing “We vs Them”, “Ours vs Theirs”, etc!

In 2017, an online campaign was launched on twitter, in which the campaigners were calling for the scrap of a unit under the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) which was established to contain robbery and its related crimes. Recently, that campaign transformed from an online campaign to a physical protest, where youths gathered in Lagos, Federal Capital Territory and some states calling for the president to heed their demand. But later, the campaign spread to some parts of the country.

The brutal actions of that unit are obvious, owing to the fact that the victims of their actions are not hidden. Therefore, calling for probe and scrapping of a unit that is well known for extra judicial killings, heavy handedness, extortion and unlawful detention of citizens is a wonderful move.
Many citizens following the daily developments of the protest viewed it from different perspectives, some view it as a move by some overzealous youths that were denied access to a dignified life, qualitative education and job opportunities. Some view it as move by some opposition parties/individuals that disagree with the policies of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, hiding behind the veil of the campaigners to disrupt his effort of steering the country to a new path of self-dependence and provision of much needed critical infrastructure in the country. From another angle, it a move by underworld actors involved in crimes in which that police unit was fighting to check mate, therefore, scrapping that unit would pave them way to keep on with their evil acts without the fear of anything. The last angle is that the protest as an underground power tussle by some citizens from a different region in order to topple the president and pave way for the installment of ”THEIRS”. In a nutshell, this fourth category is what is referred to as “OURS” versus “THEIRS”.

From whatever perspective one may view the movement, he may have a right or wrong narrative as an evidence to his perspective. For instance, no doubt that youths in Nigeria are denied access to qualitative education by their leaders, this led them to be fed with negative thoughts! Therefore, from a rational theory view it is not surprising to witness the occurrence of such protest(s).
If we look at the second class, based on our years of experience with the Nigerian politicians, we all know that they can go to any length to satisfy their ego! The third category are those thinking that those involved in crimes that the SARs are dealing with can go extra mile to have their illegal way of living free from the eyes of law enforcement. 
But there remain questions needing answers regarding the protest: who are the people calling for the scrap of the unit? What do they want to achieve if the unit is scrapped?
What is the motive behind the call?To answer these questions, one has to study the body language of the protest in order to avoid being biased.
Regarding the first question, southerners are those in the forefront of the campaign. They are those that suffer the most from the actions of the unit. For the politicians, it is in line with their effort to harness political support from their constituents. As for the celebrities, they have a great social influence in that section of the country. 

Unfortunately, the protesters have no central leadership. Having no co-ordinated leadership is one thing that can cast doubt on the veracity of the intention of the campaign. With a central leadership, government can easily sit down with their leaders and find lasting solution to their yearning with their input. But lack of leadership hinders this golden opportunity. Also, there are some notable campaigners that are well known with making ill-wish for the country and are aligned with the campaign. I guess it is safe to say that, they are pushing their will contrary to the demand of the actual campaign.

The sole aim of the campaign is to bring an end to the brutal actions of SARS. Inspector General of Police Adama has earlier heeded their demand by scrapping the unit and replaced it with Special Weapons And Tactical Team (SWAT), with a pledge that no SARS member will ever be absorbed into the new unit. Isn’t that a welcome step and a clear path to a new dawn? Why do the campaign switched to things like: #EndSWAT, #restructurenow, #revolutionnow? Does that mean those behind the two campaigns (restructuring and revolution) are among the beneficiaries of the #EndSARS campaign?
In the first place, what motivated them to kickstart this call? The brutality of SARS is what motivated them to engage in the campaign. But, why are they calling for what cannot be done overnight? That is demand for the grand overhaul of the police force and other flimsy/unattainable demands. Therefore, I may not be wrong to end this piece by saying that the campaign is lopsided and hijacked by some ill motives.
Sagir writes from Bauchi via [email protected]

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