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#EndSARS protests: The emerging crusaders; why president Buhari and others should be afraid?

Monday with [email protected]

Dear folks,

Revolution is a necessity and it will surely happen one day. I am quite sure that President Buhari is shocked with the unending protests across the country. Buhari would never have expected that the same youths he classified as lazy could summon such courage and be determined to end SARS. When you pushed people to the wall, expect the unexpected. That these youths did not wait for labor leaders experienced in betrayals or civil organisations or students associations who are now agencies in government before they could come out in large numbers to call for the proscription of SARS should send a message to President Buhari, state governors and every public officer that Nigerian youths have the capacity to launch a ‘genuine’ revolution whenever they are ready and being pushed to the extreme. Two or three reactions from top celebrities generated into a large scale and full blown protest, this should send a message to President Buhari and host of others that everything is not fine and people are tired of promise of hope but need a working government.

Now President Buhari and his folks have no reason to slumber because they may wake up one day and become alien to the seat of power. The unending #EndSARS protest is a product of frustration. SARS officials pushed Nigerians to the wall through demeaning extortion ways and open assault and when Nigerians could not take it again, they stormed the streets and it was like a movie. I tell Buhari and other landlords of power in Nigeria that there will be a day when Nigerians will become frustrated with wasteful spending, corruption, anti-peoples policies and devilish expenses of the government officials they call running costs at the expense of the people. This protest would not be motivated by greed, quest for political power or show of anger due to failure at polls but it will be a protest for survival of the common Nigerians. I thank Nigerian youths for restoring of hopes.

I had always believed that Nigeria as an orphan would die in the hands of its looters and people of no compassion who milk her on daily basis but recent activities in the nation especially the #EndSARS protests dominated by youths and women changed my belief and eventually rekindled my hope that all is not lost. I am super proud of Nigeria youths; the passion, unwavering spirit of determination and tireless spirit of agitation which were displayed during the #EndSARS protests against all odds. This I believe is a great development and message to those who see Nigeria youths as lazy and irresponsible ones.

The #EndSARS protest is symbolic and significant. It does not only show the strength of citizens especially the young population nor only depicts the powers and abilities of young people to change government policies or demand for reforms but clearly indicates that if all or majority of youths come together under one umbrella to make meaningful demands from people in authority, it may take time but they will surely triumph. I urge fellow Nigerian youths to see this #EndSARS protest as a push in making more meaningful demands and tackling of anti-peoples policies in the country. I congratulate the young population for the victory but I say to them that it is not yet over.

Coincidentally, this #EndSARS marathon protests started barely three weeks after labour leaders underwent a journey of betrayal and self-seeking rewards with the Nigeria government. They appeared as Messiahs and activists to the people, picked up the baton of responsibility to protest increment in fuel and electricity tariffs. They threatened nationwide strike and assured the people that they will not fail. On the eve of the D-day, they dined and wined with their oppressors and eventually suspended the strike and subjected ever ready Nigerians and workers to ridicule. In the end, they failed because they did not remember that it is not in the agenda of the oppressors to discuss the liberation of the oppressed. It is now more than two weeks, the price of petrol is still high and there’s no significant change in electricity tariffs and labor leaders are not back on streets as promised.

Both labor leaders and politicians are driven by greed and desires. Labour leaders now live in affluence, ride latest automobiles and own big houses that could not justify their salaries. They now dine and wine with politicians. Some labor leaders are even cheiftains of some political parties, using the plights of the people to make `cool’ cash. Gone are those days when labor leaders were driven by people’s interest and did not become slaves of money and people who have it. Those good days when workers regardless of their levels or departments would receive their salaries without stress, retire peacefully and enjoy their gratuties and pensions. Now, the story is different. States like Osun and many others now owe salaries, does not pay gratuties and release pension funds seldomly. This “evil” persists because we now have paper tigers and “gold seekers” as labor leaders who only have concern for their friends and close relatives.

Why this narrative? To posit that labor leaders have failed in their primary duties. Can people of such character lead a nationwide protest to demand for change in government policy? No. This is why Nigerians especially young people must wake up and pick up the baton of responsibility and make demands. They must not entrust their lives and future into the hands of fake activists and labor leaders who are negotiators of personal wants but stand up gallantly and face their fears. The rotness in education, health, power and other sectors is quite alarming and the young population who will inherit Nigeria and the narratives attached need to wake up and be responsible. The young population need to hijack the negotiation from the labour leaders because their experiences does not come with victory.

The voice of unity is deep and fearful. No responsible leader even the “I don’t care” one has ever ignored the voice of unity because it comes with a great force. These people fear our togetherness and we also have seen the results. There are many battles ahead. Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2021 budget and a complete eyesore it was. Despite the outcry and hard lessons from COVID-19 owing to poor health infrastructure, funds budgeted for health and education are still relatively low when compared to funds allocated as salaries, allowances, running costs to public officers. The only defense of this present administration on subsidy removal is funds meant for subsidy will be diverted and used for infrastructural growth. As bad as the timing was, it is completely out of place if only citizens are to sacrifice for infrastructural growth while politicians continue to live large. Now that #EndSARS is partly successful, we need to pick up the baton of responsibility to demand for the review of monies allocated to leaders as running costs. This I see as another priority after lives.

President Buhari will not end SARS because he lacks the will and does not know how best to reshape the killing squad for credible alternatives. People who run the country for him and sometimes use SARS for intimidation and politics will not allow him to end it. SARS is a great, special outfit but the abuse is appalling and dangerous. While we have many tales of extortion, intimidation and killings, I have also listened to testimonies of people who are beneficiaries of this police unit such as kidnap and robbery victims. As wonderful as these testimonies are, the officials of SARS have lost their ways, using the powers bestowed on them for personal gains. They abandoned highways and forests where kidnappers and thieves operate to run after yahoo boys and successful Nigerian youths. This clearly shows that they have lost the vision and purpose of the unit. It still bothers that Nigerians had to go through all the troubles in the world before they could convince government to end the unit despite gory videos and pictures of killings and intimidation. Having peruse and understudy the unit and narrations of innocent people who have experienced hell in their hands either through extortion or assault, there is no point in reforming the unit than outright ban.

Yesterday, the Inspector General of Police dissolved SARS and directed that all SARS officers should be redeployed into other units; this is apparently another ticking bomb. Surely, these SARS officials can not be released into the society rather they must be dutifully engaged. These officials are potential armed robbers who are skillful and very dangerous. Besides, we have opened our lands to more cases of kidnappings, armed robbery and unrest. They have the contacts and understand the nitty-gritty cum geographical representation of all areas but they need to be retrained and reorientated. If these two are ignored, I forsee a revenge mission in later time and reactions from Nigerians would be very loud.

This is why I stand with the call for dissolution of SARS to honor the demands of the citizens and immediate reformation of the entire police force to form new units that would attend to these social vices. Before the dissolution directives, there should be availability of new units that would consist of well trained and morally upright officers to be readily available in case of emergencies. It is sad that an average Nigerian police officer only hold guns or weapons but does not know why he or she is in charge of those weapons. We need to evaluate the minds of people we give guns and weapons to; we need a concise and thorough mental evaluation of the entire police force. They must not be in possession of guns because they are only police officers but must be mentally fit, reliable and academically sound. Why do they need “academics” or mental training? for identification of genuine criminals. They need to know the difference between armed robbers, fraudsters and graphic designers. Educate them on forex trading, crytocurrency, fiver, upwork, content development, script writing, E-commerce and others. They need to know that having a car and in possession of smart phones and laptops are not passports to fraud and possible intimidation. They should not measure the potentiality of our youths with the sad narratives of the country and irresponsibility of our leaders.

I give great kudos to Nigerian youths. But as they rejoice the dissolution of SARS, they should know that Buhari can not truly end it but only reform the unit. Continued agitation at this stage would guide in total reformation of the entire police force. We need great reforms in every sector of the country but we are in wants of willing leaders who have ideas and desires to push. Nigerian youths have taken their righful place and they are now the hope of the nation not ‘labor leaders’, negotiators of personal interests. We need such protests of high magnitude at all time and in all sectors. I thank the Nigerian youths and women.

Now President Buhari, state governors and every government official need to think wisely and deeply because the baton of restoration is no more in the hands of people they can lobby. I just hope and pray that my prediction is right.

Apagunpote Olayimika Chocomilo

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