#EndSARS Protests: When Nigerian Youths Spoke, Ageing Leaders Quaked

A girl carries placard reading "Special Ant-Robbery Squad (SARS) Kill, SARS Rape, SARS Extort, End SARS Now" on the road to a government house in continuation of an ongoing demonstration to call for the scrapping of the controversial police unit at Ikeja, on October 9, 2020. - Nigeria's top police chief banned a controversial anti-robbery unit and other special agents from mounting roadblocks and carrying out stop-and-search operations over accusations of abuses. Inspector-General of Police Muhammed Adamu said the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other tactical squads must stop such operations "with immediate effect". Adamu said the decision followed findings that "a few personnel" in undercover tactical squads have abused their position "to perpetrate all forms of illegality". (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP) (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images)

Regardless of how the #EndSARS protests might have turned out, Nigerian youths have made a statement, a valid one, writes Amby Uneze

The eruption of protests by Nigerian youths tagged #EndSARS protests, which began almost a month ago, has indeed opened the eyes of many to the fact that for the country to be great again, its success lies in shared ideas.
What the people want is what they get in terms of achieving greatness. But in an orderly way, when people are tepid over the affairs of their country, definitely, it takes a miracle for such a country to move forward.

A lot of decay had taken place in the country and the leadership has no doubt brought the nation on her knees, making it difficult for the rots to end. Since independence in 1960, the country has had deep-seated problems arising from leadership – largely.

Corruption among the leaders has risen to high heavens and every effort to bring it low proves abortive. Over the years, it has been looting upon looting, while the led have continued to suffer, making it impossible for citizens to partake in the God-given resources that abound in the country.
Even more unfortunate is that names that have been ringing bells as leaders of the country for the past 50 years are still in power. The old men and women, who have nothing else to offer to the country, are still in power and that remains largely the problem of Nigeria.

There is no gauge to measure the alertness and mental alacrity of these old men and women in government and compare it with those of their children, who are eager and swift to change the narrative for a better country.
Granted that there are no new ideas left with the old generations, who have been occupying positions of authority for almost five decades other than to replicate those policies that have made the country stagnant.

The #EndSARS protests have actually erased the notion that only the old can bring about the desired change and the development Nigeria desires. The events of the past weeks have also brought to the fore, the message that Nigerian youths could fight for their rights, even as they’ve had to endure so many injustices by those who swore to protect and defend the democracy of the country.

By so doing, they seem to have approached the issue with all sense of purpose, sending the signal of readiness to take back their country and manage it better than their fathers and grandfathers.
While commending the Nigerian youths for their peaceful protests, it is also regrettable that some hoodlums later hijacked the protests to loot and vandalise public and private properties.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for instance, saluted the courage and patriotism of Nigerian youths for standing up to defend the fundamental freedoms and dignity of Nigerians.
National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, said, “Your exemplary patriotism, using peaceful and constructive protest, to retrieve the country from the path of failures and creeping authoritarianism, sends a strong message that democracy is alive in Nigeria. The fact that our youths have not submitted to cynicism and hopelessness gives us hope to continue to fight for a democracy that respects the freedom and creativity of young Nigerians.”

The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, said the youths’ revolt in the country against the menace of police brutality as mirrored by Special Armed Robbery Squad (SARS) had its root in the existing political injustice in the country.

He noted, “It has shown that the surface scratching by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in dissolving SARS and raising SWAT, goes far away from addressing the deep rooted problems of policing in the country. SARS menace has also thrown a challenge to the country’s elites and government over prolonged neglect of that critical arm of our life as a nation.”

On its part, Yoruba’s socio-cultural group, Afenifere, also threw its weight behind the #EndSARS protesters and pitched its restructuring idea to the government, saying it is the only solution to the current struggle.
Afenifere, in a statement signed by its leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, said, “This is not the time for long speeches. The message is clear: Let us now rescue Nigeria from imminent disintegration and destruction. Let us restructure our country into a fairer, more just, and equitable polity now.

“To enhance nationwide development and progress return control of resources to states now. To ensure peaceful and harmonious co-existence devolve more power to the states now. To reduce corruption and cost of governance, reduce the size of government now. Now is the time. Tomorrow may be too late.”

Although with the current turn of events, it might seem that the quest for social justice is temporarily on hold while the rebuilding process takes the centrestage, one thing that cannot be taken away from the protests even when it was evident that the youths had no exit strategy as should have been in a better planned and coordinated movement, is the fact that they made a strong statement that has left the leadership of Nigeria pondering its future.
Pix: Some of the end SARS protesters in Alausa, Ikeja.jpg