By: Bolaji ADENIJI
As the #EndSARS protests continue, let me salute every Nigerian Youth that has persevered over the last 14 days. The protests started as a rejection of Police Brutality but within the past few days, it has transformed and raised more fundamental issues of governance.
The Youths now demand wholesome reforms in how this nation is being governed and the need for Equity, Fairness and Justice in the management of the resources that are owned by all Nigerians.
The Inequality in the system, worsening insecurity, official corruption, lack of access to affordable healthcare, qualitative education and economic opportunities – coupled with bad governance – have combined to assault the sensibilities of Nigerians, such that we are scandalized, frustrated and badly divided more than ever before; and as today, we are the second poverty capital and third most terrorised country of the world – among other indices of underdevelopment and backwardness.
The Nigerian Youth is no longer at par with his peers in other climes. His future is bleak and uncertain. Life expectancy is dwindling due to increased suicide, antisocial vices and fatal addictions – which are unfortunate protestations against a badly failing system.
The complaints and moaning have to stop and like a philosopher said, “Nothing happens until it made to happen by someone”. This nation is on the edge of a cliff and the destiny of Nigeria must be rescued. It is gladdening to see the Youths rise up to this patriotic challenge.
However, we Youths must now streamline this agitation and make it gain traction more purposefully. ‘We will not be on the streets ad-infinitum and there must be a proper exit strategy while we keep the conversation ongoing.
Our plan must be to force Government to accede to immediate and short term demands while we keep them on their toes in implementing long term demands; especially the aspects of administrative, structural and constitutional reforms – which will not happen in a jiffy. It is good that they have a ‘5 of 5’ and ‘7 of 7’ demands to meet immediately, and they MUST meet it.
As for misgovernance and bad leadership at various levels, we have to keep our gun-powder dry and keep the consultation and mobilization ongoing as we approach 2023. We may not be able to force a regime change at this time using extra-constitutional means; after all, the current establishment is a product of legitimate elections and has a fixed tenure. Nonetheless, we have the chance to sustain the current energy and make a big statement in 2023 by putting in place the leadership we desire and deserve; because we have the numbers to displace the patriarchal ruling class.
To Mr President and the current administration, you must become sensitive to the demands of this time. This sustained agitation is novel and unexpected. The need to positively adjust to this sudden reality is the hallmark of leadership. The quick demands have to be met without equivocation and prevarication. No time for deceit or knee-jerk reactions. I urge Mr President to resist the urge to deploy the military in restraining the continuity of the protests.
Freedoms of expression and gathering for peaceful protests – are within the fundamental human rights of every Nigerian. Therefore no matter how long the Youths choose to remain on the streets or how embarrassing the protest is for Government’s image, it must accept it with humility and continue to engage/appeal while implementing the demands.
*Bolaji ADENIJI is a Public Relations Expert, Communication Consultant, Media Entrepreneur, Policy Development Strategist and Public Affairs Pundit.