IT has now been established that the #EndSARS protest objective goes beyond merely abolishing the crime-prone Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS, or renaming it Special Weapons and Tactics, SWAT. It is about system change, not mere regime change. Regime change is just like renaming FSARS.
The Nigerian youth are tired of being governed the way we have been ruled ever since we got our independence from colonial Britain. It is such an ironic coincidence this revolutionary atmosphere developed so soon after the celebration of our 60th independence anniversary.
During his October 1, 2020 speech, President Muhammadu Buhari had hinted at the need for Nigerians to pause and re-examine our national trajectory for a better future progression. Apparently, that was just a sound-bite with no intended policy follow-up.
Contrary to wide clamours, no presidential broadcast or pledges by Buhari to reform anything will satisfy the hunger and expectations of the now reawakened youth. The youth and Nigerians as a whole are tired of empty speeches and promises. President Buhari makes promises everyday, but how many of them does he keep?
The youth want a total national reset in which they will play the leading role while the retired (but not tired), failed leaders take the back seat. Nigeria is a country founded on selfishness, corruption and lack of empathy for the poor, weak and downtrodden members of our society. Bad leadership has impoverished this nation. Poverty has been weaponised and the youth, who have been entrapped in it, are breaking free.
In just two weeks, the youth have discovered that the coercive power of government is overrated. The aftermath of the Lekki Toll Gate shootings on Black Tuesday 20.10.2020, when government’s power of coercion was demystified, is an eye-opener and further proof that indeed power belongs to the people. The youth now know what to do when government mobilises its soldiers and policemen to shoot at them when next they stage peaceful protests. It is no longer business as usual.
The wise thing that governments at all levels must do to properly manage the new dispensation is to be much more people-friendly in their attitudes and policy choices. Policies must now be people-centred, with an eye for a better tomorrow.
We urge President Buhari to call a national conference of eminent persons. At least, half of the members should be the youth, especially the drivers of the #EndSARS movement at home and abroad. They should be given a free hand to define a new national template for Nigeria which should come into dispensation in 2023 when Buhari hands over.
With wisdom we can peacefully manage this unfolding change and avoid violent upheavals that may plunge the nation into doom.