By Adebiyi Adesuyi
The ENDSARS protest has revealed the best and the worst of us. Our youths came out vividly as the best of us: the hope of a glorious future for Nigeria. They demonstrated commendable skills in organizing and sustaining the protest against police brutality. The political establishments could not ignore them. The world noticed their agitations and responded appropriately in support of their demands. The protesters mobilized all the funds they needed, spent them judiciously and accounted for every Naira. At last, we have identified a generation of incorruptible Nigerians who can work for our nation’s greatness.
The goals of the protesters were simple. They asked for an end to every bad thing that our police represented: cruelty towards the citizens, extortion, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings. Though the Federal Government announced that it would acquiesce to all their demands but past experiences made them insist on the implementation of the demands before calling off the protest. A desperate Government needed to break the deadlock. Thugs were sent to attack them but the young men and ladies resisted and overcame them. At its wits end, the Presidency had to mobilize military men to demobilize the peaceful agitators. Unfortunately, lives were lost!
Have the ENDSARS protesters won? Have they achieved their goals? To both questions, the answer is Yes. They succeeded in using SARS as a metaphor for failure of governance in Nigeria. The decay of our infrastructure, poor healthcare, indecent school system, corruption in public administration, injustice, insecurity, unemployment, etc were encapsulated in SARS. Thus, ENDSARS means bringing an end to all factors that have been working against the development of Nigeria and the prosperity of her citizens.
The executive and legislative branches promised to act on their demands. National and Global media reported their protest. Foreign leaders and celebrities like Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Kanye West, Rio Ferdinand and Lewis Hamilton registered their solidarity. Even Pope Francis prayed for Nigeria as a result of the agitations. So the protesters won without realizing they did. In future, they must not breach Law 47 of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power which says ” Do not go past the mark you aimed for, in victory learn when to stop”. Secondly, the youths should specify exact locations in every city where protests will be held in future.
Fake protesters who gather in non-accredited locations for the purpose of extorting money from people can be identified and apprehended. This measure will safe guard the integrity of their protest.
The protest brought out the worst in our Government. Military men should not have been instructed to use live bullets on peaceful citizens in a democracy. The protesters were not violent so there was no need of using force to disperse them. The Presidency should learn to use non-lethal mechanisms to address civil unrest.
Also the worst of us were the people who attempted to create mistrust among the ethnic groups during the crisis. The robberies, arsons and destructions that were witnessed in Lagos and other cities in the South West were wrongly attributed to non-Yoruba residents. This is an indication that the National Orientation Agency has failed in its mandate to promote national unity. The Agency must be alive to its responsibilities.
It is appalling to observe that COVID-19 palliatives were hoarded in warehouses across the federation. The State Governments failed to distribute them to the poor who were victims of the prolonged lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic. What a disservice to the people! The overwhelming number of people that looted the warehouses for foodstuffs was an unassailable evidence of the ineffectual poverty alleviating schemes of the Government. Majority of Nigerians are poor. Majority of Nigerians are hungry. All tiers of Government must create sustainable livelihoods for the citizens in order to avoid imminent disorder and destabilization.
The arsonists that burnt public buildings, mass transit buses and banks had no justifications for their actions. They were obviously used by some people who did not wish Nigeria well. Those who had sinister motives sponsored jobless citizens to burn edifices that represented our heritage and commonwealth. It was a barbaric. uncivilized and unpatriotic action against the nation. They must be identified and prosecuted. Employment opportunities must be created for jobless citizens in order to reduce their tendencies to commit crime.
The efforts to reform the police must be fast tracked. The officers who mount checkpoints for the purpose of extorting money from motorists must be flushed out of the system. The bad cops who deliberately arrest and maltreat innocent citizens must be removed from the Force. Henceforth, the authorities must do background checks for every person coming into the Force. Criminals must never be recruited to police wear uniforms and carry rifles. The Inspector General can arrange for mystery shoppers to help identify bad police officers. Occasional integrity tests will also expose the bad apples among them. The authorities must be swift in dismissing unfit officers.
Conclusively, there must be concerted efforts to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. The resentment of the latter for the former was exposed by recent events. The cost of governance must be reduced considerably. It is imperative for our national and state legislators to accept substantial pay cuts. Similarly, public officers in the executive arm must also surrender a large percentage of their salaries for public good. It is high time Nigerians began to witness good governance: break the vicious cycle of poverty, create the framework for shared prosperity. This is the only path to a peaceful and prosperous nation.
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