Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Elder statesman Alhaji Tanko Yakasai has expressed grave concerns over the widespread incidents of protest by aggrieved youths across the country, fearing that the continued spread of the demonstrations could result in unforeseen circumstances.
Yakasai, who spoke to Daily Sun in Kano, was disturbed that the demonstrations against the abuses of the Nigeria Police Force’s now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad have escalated in the last few days.
Yakasai, a one-time adviser to late former President Shehu Shagari, observed on Wednesday that the demonstrations bear a resemblance to the protests in the South-West in 1965, which ultimately led to Nigeria’s first military coup.
‘The demonstrations in Western Nigeria in 1965… That was what conditioned the minds of Nigerians and gradually, spread to Nigerians in the military. And that was what gave rise to the 1966 military coup,’ he recollected.
‘In their understanding, the Nigerian military then thought that when they kill some few people [and] they took over power, it would be the end of the story. But the crisis kept on escalating and escalating until it was beyond control.
He observed that ‘in Edo, they attacked two prisons. You don’t know what would happen today. The people in the prison, some of them are good people and some of them are bad people. If you let them loose, they would go and kill innocent people, they would rob others.
‘I am telling the government that when the crisis in the South-West started, the then government of Tafewa Balewa did not take it seriously, until it spread not only in the West but spilt over to other regions.’
The elder statesman advised the Federal Government to address the complaints of the youth protesters while admitting that the Government had been slow in responding to the initial complaints against SARS.
Yakasai said that he had no problem with the military talking tough to demonstrators while absolutely opposing the use of guns on the protesters.
The 95-year-old statesman appealed to the protesting youths to ‘understand that unending demonstrations could lead to riot; rioting could lead to killings of innocent people and looting of their shops. In the end, the same ordinary citizens whom you are protesting for would suffer.
‘Protest yes! But rioting No! Because nobody knows where riots would lead to or would end,’ he stated.