ENDSARS PROTEST: THE ARMY CALLED YOUTHS (RECAP)

History has proven beyond reasonable doubt that real power in a democratic system of government belongs to the people. We’ve seen and read about many instances where this fact has been established.

The definition of democracy itself is another affirmation of the premise that all power belongs to the people. The word democracy means rule by the people.

For emphasis sake, let’s check out some periods in history when the people decided to use their power:

The Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM): originally known as the Boycott Movement, was a British organization that was at the center of the international movement opposing the South African apartheid system and supporting South Africa’s non-White population who were persecuted by the policies of apartheid. This led to the freedom of black South Africans and protests at home finally convinced South African president F.W. de Klerk to end it. In 1990, he lifted the ban on the ANC and freed Mandela who eventually became the president of South Africa.

· The Arab Spring: this was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living, starting with protests in Tunisia. From Tunisia, the protests then spread to five other countries: Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. The aftermath of this saw some rulers deposed and a new generation of rulers sprung forth.

(Source: Wikipedia).

Nigerian government ‘s undoing

According to UNFPA, Nigerians within the age group of 15–64 years take the highest proportion by age category, claiming about 54 percent of the total population. The age group of 0–14 years ranks second comprising 32 percent of the country’s population, while Nigerians within age group 10–24 years come third, constituting 32 percent of Nigeria’s population.

Lastly, the least population of Nigerians fall within the age group of 65 above, comprising just 3% of Nigeria’s population (about 80% of our political leaders fall into this category of the minority). This is evidence that the numbers favor the youths in Nigeria. But is the Nigerian government ignorant of this fact? I presume not.

Check this out; out of this huge population of youths, the National Bureau of Statistics has revealed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate as at the second quarter of 2020 is 27.1% indicating that about 21,764,614 (21.7 million) Nigerians remain unemployed. This is a gunpowder that the government has been sitting on and they never knew until the ENDSARS protest started

The Fight

What started as just a hashtag (#ENDSARS) has metamorphosed into a movement that has escalated beyond the shores of the country, with countless Nigerians and Non-Nigerians abroad giving their unwavering support to the cause. The Nigerian government in their usual insensitive way of handling things downplayed the situation and thought it was business as usual. Well, the youths gave them a good run for their money.

It is no gainsaying that the protest which started as if one is scratching the surface has now revealed deeper things that some people didn’t even know existed. The AKWUZU case for instance is a mind-blowing revelation which highlights the alleged killing of scores of people whose bodies were dumped in the river by the SARS officers in Anambra state.

Going back in time, we can say for a fact that there is no country or clan where revolution was achieved without the ultimate sacrifice being paid. The ENDSARS protest has had fallen heroes, the likes of Jimoh Isaq and Anthony Onome laid down their lives for the cause and their death must not be allowed to go in vain. May their gentle souls rest in perfect peace.

Though the Nigerian government initially thought it was child’s play, the authorities came to the realization that the youths are not joking and our nation’s leaders resolved to salvage the already deteriorating situation. The Inspector General of Police of Nigeria announced that the SARS unit has been disbanded and they gave them a new ‘baptismal name’; SWAT. Quite hilarious!

As expected from a focused group, the youths gave a loud response that the move was an indication that the government is taking the people for granted as the supposed solution is just the typical definition of the government playing to the gallery.

However, there has been an allegation in some quarters that the government instead of meeting the demands of the youths tried to use the ‘divide and rule’ strategy to cause confusion in the camp of the protesters. The after effect is evident for all to see as the youths bounced back, better and stronger. This resolve that the youths have displayed is unprecedented in the most populous black nation.

Unfortunately, the government with its nonchalant attitude has made the protest grown and it now has branches. Right now, the youths are not only asking for the scrapping of SARS, or SWAT which is the new born baby that is ‘disguising’, they are now seeking to end the menace of bad governance that is as old as the Nigeria entity itself. The youths have made their demands known and have vowed that there is no going back on the protests until the Nigerian government hearken to their voices.

Like the saying goes; No Pain, No Gain. Of a truth, the obstruction of roads has caused a lot of discomfort for commuters and business owners in different parts of the country, but it is a price that all has to pay as the youths are not fighting only for themselves, they are fighting for the common good and a better Nigeria that will be of immense benefit to all and sundry.

Another thing worthy of note about this set of protesters is the way they have amazingly coordinated themselves; the movement being financed by the masses has seen the purse grow fat within days without compulsion. Feeding of protesters, medical supplies, legal assistance have all been provided freely to protesters and these were carried out with high levels of accountability. This attitude has been commended by many. Not only that, Nigerian youths clean up the places of protest after each demonstration and this has made people ask the question; Is this really the same Nigeria we’ve known for decades? People misplace their personal belongings on the protest ground and these things are being returned to the owners voluntarily. Maybe the youths are not the problem of Nigeria as portrayed by the old elites after all.

With all these said, it is imperative to note that the youths shouldn’t lose focus and trivialize this opportunity that they have to rewrite Nigeria’s history. Protests shouldn’t be turned to a party ground or a carnival, the youths should always remember the fallen ‘soldiers’ of this movement and honor their memories by staying focused and winning this WAR.

If the youths really want to SORO SOKE (speak loudly), It is NOW or NEVER!!!

Written by: Damilare. J. Oyetunji

Social Media Handle: @omooyelast

For Urban Central

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