By Lawi Auwal Yusuf
For any right-thinking, upright government with the political will, the EndSARS protests was not an incidence to be taken for granted or forgotten. On the contrary, the turmoil was the greatest challenge of Nigeria in 2020 after the Covid-19 epidemic. There are lessons to learn. It deserves special attention, critical thinking and drastic measure, not an indifferent and lackadaisical attitude.
It was a phenomenon that has shown that things are not well in this country. And it sent a strong and clear message that poverty, inequality, mass joblessness and underemployment are at their highest pinnacle. It manifested the annoyance, frustration and anger in the citizens of this dystopian country.
The hopeless, idle and ratty youths have fed up with their misery, plight, wretchedness, redundancy and unhappy dire future. This means that Nigerians are irritated and have despaired with the long-anticipated miracle change promised by the Buhari administration and his mega-merger party. This rebellion had evidently signalled the administration’s failure and its vague, obsolete and unrealistic policies that should be thrown overboard and swiftly replaced or radically reviewed.
A similar event like SARS brutally led to more than a decade of wars and fracases in many countries of the Middle East. What sparked off the disturbances was just even more trivial than what caused the EndSARS protests in Nigeria, where the SARS operatives slew a suspect extrajudicially.
The Arab Spring, which started in 2011, was ignited when a cop molested a fruit-seller on the street of Tunis. Muhammad Al-Bouazizi, a breadwinner, set himself ablaze in protest of confiscating his wares by the police from which he made his ends meet and put food on the table for his family and his aged parents.
After intense pressure from millions of demonstrators that took to the streets of the country’s metropolitan cities, it resulted in the ouster of the then authoritarian President of Tunisia, Zainul Abidin Ben Ali. And subsequently, these protests proliferated in neighbouring countries. Similarly, it led to the fall of other long-ruling regimes and sit-tight dictators like Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and later Muhammad Mursi, Abdallah Saleh of Yemen, Sa’ad Hariri and Hassan Diab of Lebanon, Umar Al-Bashir of Sudan, Abdulaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and the currently embattled Bashar Assad of Syria. And most recently, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali, a West African country and a member of the CEDEAO (ECOWAS) and a neighbour to Nigeria with the closest proximity to Nigeria among the mentioned states.
And I am sure it is unarguable that police in Nigeria are more hostile, ruthless, brutal and more corrupt than these countries. Nevertheless, their leaders were more committed to developing their economies and serving their masses than the Nigerian unpatriotic, unmindful, extravagant and wanton politicians. Their leaders were more just, accountable, transparent, modest, nationalist, less corrupt and materialistic and love their people more than our leaders do. Moreover, their masses are far better off than Nigerians. Despite these, their people revolted against them, and it is the wish and age-long dream of Nigerians to have leaders like that of those countries so that our country can reach their level of development. And one may think that if genuine and urgent efforts are not made to resolve the problems of this country, it may be next.
Furthermore, the EndSARS resistance has shown that Nigerian politicians are no longer running the country’s affairs with the mandate and consent of the people because they believed that they are deceived and betrayed by politicians. Thus, democracy is an illusion as it has metamorphosed into a democratic dictatorship.
Lastly, as every Nigerian is responsible and must be blamed for the nation’s state and as we have all paid the price for this destructive behaviour of these youths, change must begin with each and every one of us. Therefore, on the part of the government, I suggest it should convene a conference and bring together technocrats from different professions like sociologists, economists, political scientists, security experts and so on to assess the situation and its causes come up with solutions to avert any future reoccurrences.
Lawi Auwal Yusuf Maikanawa writes from Kano. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.