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#EndSARS Protest: How Youths Got It Wrong

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The lack of definable leadership for last month’s EndSARS protest did not just make it difficult for the authorities to bribe or intimidate the inspirers of the protest, as some of the youths claimed on social media, it also made it possible for most of the youths to evade responsibility for the shortcomings of the protest.

One of those shortcomings was not knowing when to call off the protests, a failing that led to the violent subversion of the protests by sundry criminal elements and shadowy political figures with a grudge. In the end, according to police sources, some 73 people lost their lives, including 22 policemen, and scores of police stations burnt.

The cost to business is in excess of trillions of naira, with Lagos alone losing about a trillion. All this because the youths lacked the leadership and judgement to bring an otherwise excellent protest to a timely end. It would be strange to repeat that error when next they take to the streets.

But there is an error, perhaps even two, in the making already. The youths may lack the humility to apologise for letting their protests be hijacked and they bear direct and indirect responsibility whether they like it or not but they cannot claim that hindsight has not taught them a lesson or two about how to start a war and finish it. As they cross the uneven and uncertain divide between youth and the elderly, a line obfuscated by culture and arbitrariness, they must now persuade themselves to see virtue in moderation and find ways of developing the uncanny ability to judge complex and interconnected issues.

They must remind themselves about the peril of victory, especially a quick one delivered only a few days after kick-starting their protests, and the triumph of defeat, one alien to their campaigns. By now they must have sensed that victory and great triumphs do not mean noisy celebration but impose a far greater degree of responsibility.

The youths still proceed and speak as if no lessons have been learnt, or that the catastrophic consequences of their failings do not compel them to engage the future more cautiously and tentatively.

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They isolate the concessions won from the government as if those concessions have no implications for the concessions not won. They have said and done nothing about the deployment of twisted social media narratives that told lies without compulsion, projected horrifying tales of abuse that were either unreal or exaggerations, and fanned stories clearly designed to achieve political goals and slander tribes and individuals. How would future protests be safeguarded from these manipulations? The same social media had been of tremendous help in exposing the horrors perpetrated by anti-robbery squads and regular policemen, sometimes even under the noses of their divisional police superiors. But by fighting an unregulated war, decentralizing protest leadership, and elongating and diffusing their demands, they unfortunately allowed a great campaign to be hijacked and bastardised, nearly to the point of watering down and diluting the achievements of the protest. Now, nothing is certain anymore beyond the threat of repeating the protest sometime in the future. But whether they will get converts like they attracted during the October protests, seeing that many children of the revolution also lost humongous sums to looters, is hard to say.

The youths are about to make another capital error. They seem prepared to veer into partisan politics instead of limiting themselves to activism connected with issues that transcend partisanship, tribe and religion. There is talk of setting up a political party, or organising youths to pressure political parties. Apart from the sentimental drivel about entrenching a dichotomy between youths and elders, an unwise and impracticable thing to do, including describing the elders as disgustingly acquiescent, the youths must become aware that they could never form a consensus against any party or coalesce to the last man around an ideology or platform. If the elders could not unite around a common platform, with some of the platforms distinctly ethnic or religious, why do youths think they could suddenly reach a consensus on platforms, candidates, and tangential issues like restructuring, rotation, presidentialism versus parliamentarianism, regionalism, etc.?

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France’s Emmanuel Macron was not the product of a youth-led innovation in French politics. Nor was his movement, En Marche!, targeted against elders. It was both an ideological movement and a tantalising offer of newness away from the staidness of French politics. Besides, Mr Macron was a protégé of one of the dinosaurs of French politics, Jacques Chirac, and was a former minister who had been carefully groomed for leadership, including attending France’s highest policy institution, École nationale d’administration (National School of Public Administration) or Énarque. Mr Macron, a former member of the Socialist Party, was not a product of happenstance. Nor was his centrist movement, La République En Marche! (LREM), an arbitrary construct from a variegated French political milieu. Nigeria is unlikely to embrace any party simply because it is youth-led or designed to promote certain issues or even ideologies that resonate with youths. Instead, any youth bright enough to appreciate issues salient to Nigerian politics and society can enunciate his ideas and galvanise both young and old to create an unstoppable movement. Mr Macron did his own in about a year. It is not impossible to do it in two years in Nigeria, provided such a youth has the intellect and experience.

Promoters of the EndSARS protest will be unable to turn their activism into a movement, considering the baggage they have unhealthily allowed to bifurcate their action and pollute the protest’s essence and goals. They will need to look elsewhere.

A better option is to eschew their nonsensical romance with promoting a party for the sole aim of taking power anytime soon. Surely they can’t be so impressionable and incurably romantic to think they could unite and take on the elders.

Indeed, they give the impression that they are not properly grounded intellectually and emotionally to think that in a few months they could do what their phlegmatic elders could not do in more than 60 years. Instead of stumbling into politics which they are not prepared for, Nigerian youths, particularly in the EndSARS ‘movement’ should see the battle they started in 2017 and particularly on October 8, 2020 as an unfinished war.

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There are too many unresolved issues with police and law enforcement reform that need special attention and concentration. EndSARS should be turned into a pressure group to monitor the reform and ensure it does not miscarry.

Already, given the backlash over the killing of some 22 policemen, and especially because there was no massacre at the Lekki tollgate, there are indications that the country’s reactionary law enforcement and security system appears minded to frustrate changes needed to foster better security and stability for the country. There is doubt that given the country’s present structure, a better law enforcement and security system can be engendered.

That doubt is justified. It will be hard to forge a workable police organisation and security system out of an unworkable political, social and economic patchwork. It won’t happen. So even before the youths began to be distracted, their original goal was endangered by the stultifying arrangement that has kept the country leprous and bedridden for decades. And without doing anything about Nigeria’s exploding population, the pressures of desertification, an extremely gross economic dependency system, and an overweight and futile system of government, the country as well as EndSARS activists will be fooling themselves.

In the midst of all this, it would be stupefying for the youths to think their modest and badly mismanaged EndSARS protest success can be quickly transformed into something enduring and remarkable. The rot goes far deeper, and is innately systemic and implacable. It is a monstrosity that requires years of single-minded focus, brilliance and occasional protests to undo. But it is also a campaign that cannot be successfully prosecuted by a leaderless pressure group probably already enticed by the allure of political power, probably insensitive to the demand of the times, and wary of taking responsibility.

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FG Petitions CNN Over investigative Report On Lekki Shooting, Threatens Action

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The Federal Government has written a petition to the US-based Cable News Network (CNN), demanding an immediate and exhaustive investigation into its report on the Lekki Tollgate shooting, to determine its authenticity and conformity to basic standards of journalism.

The government berated CNN for its investigative report on the #EndSARS protest in Lekki area of Lagos, pointing out that the media outfit breached the most basic of the core principles of journalism – balance and fairness.

In the petition written by the Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to Jonathan Hawkins, VP (Communications) in CNN Centre Atlanta, Georgia; the government said that if the international media organization does not carry out its demand, it will take any action within its laws to prevent CNN from making the #EndSARS crisis worse.

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According to a report from Mouthpiece NGR, the government’s letter dated November 23, 2020, is titled “Re: How a bloody night of bullets quashed a young protest movement”.

The letter reads

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FG Will Replace Properties Destroyed By Hoodlums, SGF Assures FRSC

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Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha has assured the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) that all the properties of the corps that were destroyed by hoodlums at the aftermath of the ENDSARS protest would be replaced by the federal government.

Speaking on Thursday in Abuja when he visited the Corps to inspect some of the vehicles and bikes recently purchased, he noted that about Eight Commands across the country were affected as well as 28 vehicles.

Lagos: Ijanikin office of FRSC, VIO set ablaze by hoodlums
He said the federal government would look into the plight of the corps and ensure that the vehicles were replaced to enable the officers carry out their activities effectively.

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Mustapha noted that during the yuletide, officers of the corps would be needed to help protect the highways and ensure it was safe for motorist to travel on.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha

On his part, Corps Marshal of the corps, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi said the vehicles that were procured would be given to states and commands that got affected by the hoodlums attack before others commands can get theirs.

He said about 16 patrol vehicles were procured alongside some ambulances and towing trucks hence, the towing trucks would be deployed to Lagos State due to the traffic nature of the state.

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#EndSARS: Ooni Of Ife Lauds Muslim Community For Its Role For Restoration And Sustenance Of Peace In The Country.

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By Yahaya Idris, Osun.

….. Hosts Leagues Of IMAMS President, says ‘Peace has no substitute’

The Arole Oduduwa & Oon of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, on Wednesday hosted the President General, League of Imams and Alfas from South-West region of Edo and Delta States respectively, Imam Jamiu Kewulere, at his Ile-Oodua Palace, Ile Ife.

In a statement Signed and made available to Journalists in Ile Ife Osun State by Comrade Moses Olafare, Director, Media & Public Affairs, Ooni’s Palace, said Critical national issues affecting the country including the #EndSARS protests which was hijacked by hoodlums were fully discussed in the interest of the country.

According to the statement, Ooni Ogunwusi, the Spiritual Leader of the entire Oduduwa Race worldwide who is also the Co-Chairman of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria(NCTRN), lauded the Muslim community for its role in the restoration and sustenance of peace in the country, adding that peace has no substitute.

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“The kind of peace we enjoy in the South-West is unique to us in that it amazes people of other parts of the country how we live harmoniously regardless of our religious differences.

“I am impressed by your good works and those great moves you planned to move for the development of Nigeria and I am ready to join you because I am for peace and tranquility. We are also working with Christian Associations and practitioners of traditional religions too and the response is the same, they are for peace too.” Ooni Ogunwusi said.

President League of Imam and HRM. Ooni Of Ile Ife, Arole Oduduwa & Oon of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II

on his part, Imam Kewulere who was flanked by top clerics across the region described the Ooni as an unequaled peace ambassador, who makes the supposed hard responsibility of peace keeping easy in the country.

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“I wish to request your Majesty to convoke a meeting of the forum of all prominent Yoruba political leaders, religious leaders from both the Christian and Muslim circle and leading traditional leaders in Yoruba land as urgent as possible.

“The convocation should be made to deliberate and discuss the present state of events in Nigeria especially as it affects the Yoruba. It should also be part of the forum’s task to proffer solutions and way out to the seeming looming crisis.

“Kabiyesi, as much as I know that you are making frantic efforts towards the projection of Yoruba race, the time has come for all the Yoruba opinion leaders to sincerely and genuinely come together to address issues affecting the country and that of the Yoruba race in particular. The convocation of the forum of opinion leaders being proposed herein will go a long way to proffer solutions to some of the societal ills such as the ones that precipitated the recent #EndSARS protests.” The cleric requested.

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