#EndSARS: Why Abuja youths must give peace a chance

The last has not been heard about the recent EndSARS protests that rocked major cities in the country especially the FCT. In this report, ABDULLAH MUHAMMAD writes on why youths should shun violent protests.

The recent EndSARS demonstrations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other parts of the country which was hijacked by hoodlums and other criminal elements to attack and vandalise government establishments as well as privately-owned properties and businesses is one ugly incident that no well-meaning Nigerian would want to experience again.

It all began while youths around the country were engaging in peaceful protests to demand for an end to police brutalities generally as well as the reform of the security agencies; however some hoodlums among the youth population took advantage of the situation to launch the devastating attacks that were witnessed all over the country recently.
The ugly incident led to the vandalisation of several storage facilities and warehouses belonging to government and private businesses in several parts of the FCT and other parts of the country, while looting and setting properties ablaze by the rampaging youths.

The cost

The situation became very serious such that it got many residents disturbed especially with the level of looting and destruction that followed the protests.

The development led to loss of billions of Naira worth of goods and property, destruction of means of livelihood and the regrettable loss of lives of other Nigerians. This no doubt equally caused some kinds of religious and tribal clashes in some notable areas around the country.

Much as the intention of the protesting youths and the call for an end to police brutality is quite noble and commendable, the same cannot be said about the activities of hoodlums who brought untold hardship on other Nigerians in the process.
The estimated cost of the losses suffered by private business owners and government in the FCT have been set at billions of Naira.

Industrial machines, factories and other buildings were looted and others vandalised. These are industrial machines that are difficult to replace due to their costs.
The means of livelihood of most Nigerians in the areas most affected by the unrest have also been destroyed leaving them in ruins, all as a result of the excesses of the hijacking protesters.

FCT minister to the rescue

As the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello confirmed this when he carried out an on-the-spot assessment of the affected areas in the FCT alongside the traditional rulers and FCT security taskforce, he knew that the fate of several businesses in the affected areas had been hung in the balance; therefore requiring urgent intervention by government in order to ensure that they get rescued to continue their operations.

Taking Apo district where several cars belonging to businessmen and some individuals were set ablaze and warehouses at the Idu Industrial Area which is the commercial nerve centre of the FCT were vandalized, looted and destroyed, as an example.
As if that was not enough, the FCT Grain Reserve which also houses farm inputs meant for distribution to the FCT farmers were also completely looted.

This calls for national question bothering in whose interest those rampaging hoodlums carried out these attacks. Certainly, it cannot be the interest of the Nigerian youths whose means of livelihood were been destroyed, rendering them jobless.
Again, public institutions have been vandalised, police outposts, hospitals, schools, banks, grain reserves. Are these not all facilities established to serve members of the communities, majority of whom are the youths? Who then would suffer the consequences?

Why youths should shun violence

Looking at this situation from another end, the widespread social discontent as was witnessed recently during the EndSARS demonstrations, was one that was capable of snowballing into large scale breakdown of law and order, which could have eventually left us with even bigger problems.
A country like Nigeria that is already experiencing cracks resulting from ethnic and religious fault lines surely cannot afford to have situations that would widen those cracks.

Even as there are numerous reasons to be angry and discontented as a Nigerian youth, there is need however for the youths to exercise restraint and abandon whatever ruinous path that they may have been instigated into by external forces.
The youths who spoke very loudly and clearly during the peaceful protests and their messages were largely heard by the government have been attested to by various officials of the government.

The government also swung into action by showing more responsibility towards the plight of the youths with the recent disbursement of N30,000 grant to artisans in the country, among other efforts.
The next best option now is to begin to dialogue with the government to see how the demands made by the youths during the protests could be met.

The continued acts of destruction and vandalism by the youths would only lead to the loss of goodwill which could defeat the purpose the peaceful protests were set to achieve.

However, as a result of these ugly incidents that came with a lot of trauma and distraction, the minister of FCT has in his wisdom constituted an assessment committee on EndSARS protest damage to look through the damage and come up with best stratford to compensate and also advise on way forward.

Again, all well-meaning Nigerians, including the traditional institutions, the religious bodies, government officials and even youth leaders are calling on the youths to embrace the path of peace and dialogue. The youths must now listen to these wise counsels as it is only under an atmosphere of peace that any meaningful development could be achieved.

The youths in the FCT must also resist any attempts by external forces to influence them into taking up arms against the state, private businesses or government institutions in the FCT.

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