By Abubakar Atiku Nuhu-Koko
The #ENDSARS protests organised by a segment of Nigerian youths in some Nigerian cities, including Abuja, against a squad of Nigeria Police Force (NPF) better known as Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) for mistreatment of Nigerian youths a couple of weeks ago left a lot of pains and dissatisfaction for both the organisers, the general public at large and the federal government of Nigeria.
For instance, the initially largely peaceful and well organised protest matches took the general public, the various governments and the nation’s security services by surprise. For over two weeks, the protesters enjoyed themselves on the streets of some cities without any harassment by the officers of the NPF and other security services. The protesters were chanting end SARS and dancing and carrying placards with encryptions #ENDSARS and #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY etc.
The federal government uncharacteristically, acceded without any reservation and or pre-condition to all the five (5) demands presented to it by the protesters through the Lagos State Governor BabajideSanwo-Olu who flew from Lagos to Abuja to personally hand deliver them to President MuhammaduBuhari (PMB) and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) MA Adamu for their consideration.
This type of government’s magnanimity and open-heartedness towards protesters had never happened before in the annals of public protests against any Nigerian government before and since independence in 1960!
Sadly, however, the peaceful protests became very nasty and deadly when some hoodlums infiltrated and hijacked them and turned them into mayhem. Several lives were lost, people maimed and properties worth several billions of naira were wantonly and wilfully destroyed and looted by the infiltrators.
The sad situation was further compounded when the military were officially invited by the Lagos State Governor to ensure public compliance with the curfew he imposed on the residents of Lagos State. As a result of the military involvement, additional lives were also lost, people maimed and properties destroyed and looted in Lagos and some other cities across the country.
Thus, these worsening developments further infuriated the anger of the organizers to the extent that they threatened the legitimacy of the federal government of Nigeria through further public protests. Hence, the federal and state governments took additional reconciliatory measures to calm down the deteriorating situation.
Such measures, for example, included setting up of dialogue and mediation groups toward tackling the grievances of the concerned youths during the #ENDSARS protestations. The federal government’s group is headed by Chief of Staff (CoS) of PMB, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; with the participation of traditional rulers and civil society organizations (CSOs) among other key stakeholders.
It is against the above general background that I strongly believe that, in addition to all the measures put in place by both the federal and state governments respectively, there is still the need for the Office of the Inspector-General of Nigeria Police Force to immediately initiate national dialogue (Town Hall Meetings) for reconciliation across the country with the aggrieved organised Nigerian youths.
This proactive initiative will go a long way in re-establishing confidence and better fraternal relationship between the NPF and the youths. After all, it is from the pool of the Nigerian youths that the NPF recruits its Police officers of all categories. In addition, the bulk of the NPF cadets and officer cadre are made up of youths. Furthermore, the Nigerian youths are more in contact with the NPF than the traditional rulers in their daily livelihood endeavours.
Founder/Pioneer Executive Director
The ShehuShagari World Institute for Leadership and Good Governance (SSWi), Sokoto
Monday, November 9, 2020