EndSARS: Time to Retrace Our Steps, says Buhari

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By Nseobong Okon-Ekong

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the EndSARS campaigns which rocked many states across the country and left in its trail a huge loss of lives and properties call for a retracing of steps and a time to ask questions about the country’s future .

Speaking at a stakeholders meeting with governors and natural rulers from the South-west of Nigeria at the Banquet hall of Lagos House in Alausa-Ikeja, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to the President and leader of the presidential delegation which also consisted of all the members of the Federal Executive Council from the region said the President acknowledges that the country could not afford to ignore the yearnings of its teeming youth population anymore.

He said it was Mr. President’s desire that participants at the conference will offer their frank opinions on what needs to be done to reduce reduce ugly incidents of youths restiveness such as was witnessed in the country recently.

According to Gambari the Federal Government was adopting a multi-pronged approach to the problem of insecurity, youth unemployment, police reform, improvement in the conditions of serving police personnel and adoption of community policing. “We have the Vice President and the governors, working at one level. We also have strengthened the National Human Rights Commission to ensure that we are keeping all the promises we have made in terms of responsibility to the citizens. Mr .President wants to establish unfiltered channels of communications through our natural rulers and the governors so that the voices of the people can be reported and heard by him directly. “

Members of the FEC at the meeting were Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola, Minister of State in the Health Ministry, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora, Mr. Sunday Dare, Minister of Youths and Sports, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, Minister of State in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of State in the Ministry of Mines and Power, Director General of the State Security Services and the Inspector General of Police.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State who is also the Chairman of the South-west Governors Forum noted, “We have gone through a lot as a people in the past few weeks. The past experience was most worrisome. Though some kind of peace has returned. We want to sustain that peace at all cost. We have witnessed what our youths can do. When it started, no governor could walk down the road and say I am among my people. Our people almost turned against us. We have to find a lasting solution to youths unrest. The South- west experienced a coordinated attack on our heritage during the EndSARS campaigns, that is why we have to work out a stronger collaboration between our natural rulers, security agencies and the chief executives of states.”

Other governors at the meeting were Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Governor Dapo Abiodum of Ogun State, Govenor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
Oba Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, Ooni of Ife blamed the governors for seeking the cooperation of natural rulers when they want votes to be elected into office. He said, “If we had these type of meetings frequently, the mayhem we witnessed recently would not have happened.” Referring to the unsavoury turbulence in the First Republic, the Ooni said, “The South- west has the reputation of the ‘Wild, wild West’. It is not a good reputation. But if our governors are not far from us, we will be able to articulate views and opinions that will nip such ugly things in the bud.”

Insisting that an abolition of the unitary system that was introduced into the country by the military and a return to a system of government that allows each region of the country develop at its own pace like in the First Republic, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi argued that the governors are overwhelmed, because there was too much concentration of power at the centre.”

Before going into a closed session, the host of the conference, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State invited the audience to watch a short pictorial of the material losses recorded during the EndSARS campaigns, including 500 public and private vehicles, 130 BRT buses, 26 police stations and scores of public and private buildings. He said what was important to him now was to embark on a journey to rebuild Lagos.

Other natural rulers who spoke at the meeting were Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos, Oba Akinruntan Obateru, the Olugvo of Ugbo, Oba Adebiyi Alabi, the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, the Paramount Ruler of Yewa.