‘Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed’ – Martin Luther King Jr.
Nigerians seek a new and better Nigeria. If we unite as one nation, one people then this dream for a new Nigeria isn’t impossible. This can be seen from the #EndSars protest.
Nigeria must be rescued from the diabolic claws of stone-cold tyrants, self-serving thieves, and sadists who are causing hardship, oppression and unemployment in the land just to break the citizens and bring us on our kneels.
But it’s up to us to prove to them that we are strong and resolute and that we are Nigerians and our voice can’t be silenced.
Now that the government has buckled under pressure and disbanded SARS due to the protest against the draconian treatment mete against citizens by members of SARS, it is important to note that the entire police structure needs to be overhauled in order to address the many dysfunctional and crazy elements that put the lives of our citizens in jeopardy.
There is also a need to demand for responsive leadership across board. We need a total reform of the country. SARS is a small unit but it was commendable effort from our citizens that they were ready to stake their lives to establish the great change. It will take a stronger force and a far nerve wracking experience to see changes in governance and leadership in Nigeria as a whole.
The message is clear enough to the government of the day, that citizens right to protest is non-negotiable and the issues of citizens engagement through dialogue must be encouraged.
The Nigeria police, other military and paramilitary forces should henceforth be reformed in a manner consistent with its rules of engagement and standard practice guidelines stated by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and practiced in civilized society.
There’s need to quote the 2014 Manifesto of Nigeria’s ruling party (APC): ‘In the past, political manifestos in Nigeria were hardly different from mere platitudes and general statements to which parties could not be held accountable. The APC Manifesto is different. We have clearly stated what we will deliver to Nigeria when elected into office . Our focus is on six priority areas: National Security, Good Governance, Human Capital Development.’
However, under the leadership of Major General Muhammadu Buhari, issues of ethnic cleansing, killings, kidnapping, and police brutality are rampant.
The present administration under Major General Muhammad Buhari must be constantly reminded of the inalienable rights reserved for citizens to peacefully protest against poor leadership as enshrined in the constitution isn’t negotiable.
Our youths are fed up with a system that has first and foremost failed to do its duty to protect them. The Nigeria system has killed more dreams. The government wants the Nigerian youth to remain hopeless!
Our current demographic indices shows that the country now belongs to our youths. The strength of any nation is in its youth. The fact is that a new generation is coming. This new generation is faced with diverse challenges. You can call it a paradigm shift. I hope we are prepared for the next phase in our nations history?
Leaders must be prepared to listen to them and encourage citizens engagement through dialogue…this will restore public confidence in the establishments.
The momentum needs to be sustained by our youths across the globe, because of many other disturbing issues. It is imperative that we clearly demand for responsive leadership across board, not leadership by intimidation as it is practiced in Nigeria’s democracy.
Despite the so called pronouncements, the fifth time on the subject of #ENDSARS. The problem of brutality has not abetted. Police on same day went on rampage and brutalized unarmed civilians and journalists in the course of the peaceful protest duty call.
Within the last few months Amnesty international has documented 82 cases of extrajudiciary assassinations of unarmed civilians apart from the issues of ethnic cleansing among others.
Let this disbandment of SARS be properly gazetted by government to assure the citizens that this is not the usual lip service. Also, how will the disbanded SARS operatives be reformed and accommodated in the police force?
EndSARS isn’t anywhere near the promised land. But if #EndSARS protest hasn’t done anything, it has done one thing successfully; reawakening the consciousness of Nigerian youths that in their unity and numbers, CHANGE can happen. EndSARS is a catalyst for the Revolution Of Values. Henceforth, #ENDSARS can be upgraded to #ENDIMPUNITY ##ENDBADGOVERNANCE
Conclusively, we salute the unbreakable spirit, boldness and resilience of our compatriots across the globe including the victims of oppression and brutality from the impunity of the security services.
Odusanya is the
Convener, Africa Covenant Rescue Initiative ACRI