HOW ENDSARS PROTEST WAS HIJACKED; MISDIRECTED, PRESIDENT BUHARI TELLS FORMER HEADS OF STATE

It is unfortunate that the initial genuine and well-intended protest of youths in parts of the country against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was hijacked and misdirected, President Muhammadu Buhari told former Heads of State and Presidents of Nigeria, Friday in Abuja.

In a virtual meeting with the former leaders, President Buhari reiterated that the Government will not fold its arms and allow miscreants and criminals continue to perpetrate acts of hooliganism in the country.

At the meeting were all living past leaders, including: Gen. Yakubu Gowon, President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Gen. Abulsalami Abubakar, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The President recounted the initial concessions made by his administration on the demands of youths protesting against the excesses of some members of the SARS.

He recalled that the youths had demanded that the squad be disbanded, and further articulated the additional demands, including:

”The immediate release of all arrested protesters.

”Justice for deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families.

”Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of Police misconduct within 10 days.

”Psychological evaluation and re-training of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be re-deployed; and increase in Police salary.”

The President declared: ”We accepted all the demands and proceeded immediately to scrap SARS and started the process of addressing the other demands.

”Unfortunately, the protesters refused to call off the protest and engage the Government to address their grievances. Instead, they became emboldened and gradually turned violent.”

President Buhari expressed concern that in the mayhem that ensued, many lives have been lost, a number of public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalized.

Reiterating his pledge to Nigerians from the nationwide broadcast Thursday, the President reaffirmed:

”We will continue to improve good governance through our democratic process including through sustained engagement.

”We shall also continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens are protected. Here, I want to also reaffirm our commitment to preserving the unity of this country.”

The President thanked the former Heads of State for attending the meeting and their invaluable comments, observations and advice, adding that ”Nigerians expect nothing less from responsible statesmen.”

Each of the former leaders commended President Buhari for steps taken so far to restore calm and order to the country and also applauded the presidential broadcast of Thursday as detailed and soothing to the country.

”I commend the speech of last night. The nation had been waiting. You made points that I believe need to be commended. Peaceful demonstration is part of democratic practice. The demands of the genuine protesters were accepted, and you are working on implementation. We commend you,” former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said.

The former heads of state were unanimous in their view that generation of employment and growing the economy including through direct foreign investments were critical to checking youth restiveness.

They also expressed their condolences to the bereaved families of civilians, policemen and soldiers killed as a result of the violent protest, and reaffirmed the commitment to respect the fundamental rights of citizens, including for peaceful protest as enshrined in the Constitution.

The former Heads of State also condemned the divisive and inciting pronouncements of separatists, and were of the opinion that such acts should be stopped.

Equally, the former Leaders commended the actions taken by Governors to address the demands of the ENDSARS protesters and their efforts to check the excesses of those who perpetrated violent acts and conduct.

Finally, they called on youths to pursue peaceful means, in seeking redress through engagement with Government and encouraged further conversation with the youths and other stakeholders in the country.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
October 23, 2020

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Written by staff

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  1. I haven’t got the heart to comment on the meeting with former presidents as I strongly believe that all of them had done what they could do best when governing the country and had contributed their quotas whatever anyone would say. I personally wrote a letter to the then president Babangida and encouraged him to help the country in his quest for technological advancement. I was an undergraduate of University of Paris 8, I deposited my letter at the Nigerian embassy in Paris and few years later learned that efforts were made in that direction but the machines imported for training including lathe machine and others that might contributed to that giant strike was left to Roth at the port. That shows that leadership do listen and respond sometimes, The questions we should all be asking is, who exactly is Nigeria’s enemy of progress. In recent writings, I mentioned the difficulties encountered by those whose labor and contribution has been rendered useless by various activities including that of government through the minisation of the contribution of Nigerians. The Molue builders of Somolu and Agege, The Omolanke pushers and indeed builders, the ordinary people of our land, the shoe makers, the …… I can mention but few of those that has been left on the road side. For us to grow as a nation, we should go to the drawing board. Review how we got here and what happened to our creative ability. The negative effect of importation, the drive to catch up on borrowed time and the rest. The world has moved on, but we’re still thinking that we can get what we want from elsewhere. People talks about education being the issue, yes partly so, but what education?. I read education science and my understanding is that education is only a leverage for potential. The ignition for social progress that education can achieve is a coordinated efforts of channeling. At the age of 18, i once had an argument with an uncle of mine over the importation of Yarn for the textile industry. He was one of the leading figure of the industry. I asked if it was indeed possible to produce cotton in mass in Nigeria and Africa especially West Africa to manage the shortage instead of relying on importation for what is needed. He looked at me with astonishment and I thought he might be saying to himself, what does he know. I was moved to tears as I combatted the despair of seeing the country going the other way. I was too afraid to catch the imported SCANIA bus of the then because it always had problems either to open its doors and sometimes catches fire with overheating. But’ I was never afraid to board my molue even though i risk having my newly sewn babariga tore by protruding plate. Why do we always use our money to buy trouble when all we need to do is to work strenuously to consolidate and improve what we have. Why does it look as though we’re for ever chasing the winds. As the former leaders gathered with dwindling wealth from oil looming, it is probably the right time to re-engineer our psychic towards effective nation building. It is good to build cities and bridges, when they’re are built for you it doesn’t have protective factor. Teach a man to fish, he would forever be fed, It is time to make fundamental u turn in our developmental strategies so that the children of Nigeria can look after Nigeria. We should stop the slave mentality that it must be better elsewhere. In work, confidence is built, livelihood is reassured, anxiety is diminished and mental illness is limited. Even, physical ailments is also curtailed. God bless Nigeria and those that dwells in it.

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