Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A group, under the auspices of All Progressives Congress (APC) Young Stakeholders, has pleaded with the protesting Nigerian youths to suspend the action and give government time to address their concerns.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the group acknowledged that the protests is not targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari, even as they condemned the shooting of protesters in Edo State on Friday.
“We have watched events of the past days as it concerns the agitations to put an end to police brutality and particularly the menace of operatives of the Special Anti-robbery squad SARS. We want to put it on record that we acknowledge the genuineness behind these agitations just as we appreciate the unity and resilience that has been shown by Nigerian youths in the past few days by the Nigerian.
“It is a testament to the true spirit of the desire to enthrone a nation that works for all. Power truly belongs to the people and Nigerian youths have demonstrated this.
While we commend the protesters and celebrate them for the feat so far achieved, especially with the dissolution of SARS and the acceptance of the five point demands that came with it.
“We want to also appreciate the efforts of the APC led federal government for listening quickly to these demands and putting in place measures to implement them. We want to particularly commend President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governors Babajide Sanwoolu, Yahaya Bello, AbduRahman AbdulRazaq who have all demonstrated that the APC is truly a party committed to people-centric governance.
“We wish to equally appreciate the efforts of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and others who have so far shown commitment to putting an end to what has become a menace to the society.
“We acknowledge the fact that these protests, which have become sustained despite government agreeing to the demands is as a result of the long years of mistrust between the government and the people, but we are not oblivious of the fact that the present government of President Buhari is committed and already showing the desire to bridge that gap and right the wrongs of many years, predating this government.
“That is why we want to call on the understanding of young members and supporters of our party, the APC not to see the protests from purely the point of standing against the government as the brutality of the police or SARS does not recognize political affiliation when they occur.
“It is on this note also that we want to call on our fellow Nigerians who are still on the streets protesting not to see this protest as an end, but a means to an end.
“The right to protest is ours; no government can strip us of that power and this government has demonstrated clear understanding of these rights by continuously allowing protests to go on so long as they remain peaceful.
“We have made our voices heard. On Sunday, October 11, IGP Muhammad Adamu, announced the disbandment of the unit. It is victory! Youths all over Twitter reported seeing SARS offices in their various states under lock and key. It was a solid victory!
“Furthermore, President Buhari announced that the disbandment is just the beginning of a long process of reforming the police. The President has listened and he has the power to effect change. And he is doing it
“The National Economic Council gave a directive that states should create their own judicial panel of enquiry that will investigate cases of police brutality.
“These panels will be made up of students, youths, civil society representative, and will be chaired by a retired State High Court Judge. The Council also directed the formation of a Special Security and Human Rights Commitee that will be chaired by state governors.
“A Human Rights Public Complaints Team will also be established per the NEC’s directive. To compensate victims of police brutality, NEC directed that a Victim Trust Fund be established.
“Just on Friday, we read that the presidential panel set up to reform SARS submitted it’s report to the Police Service Commission. It recommended the dismissal of 37 former SARS officers and prosecution of 24 for professional misconduct.
“This is in addition to the 10 that were already dismissed and nine others demoted. This is a big win, great Nigerian Youths. The government has listened to our cries. It has taken immediate and strategic steps to improve policing in the country.
“That is why we came out to the streets. That is why we left the comfort of our homes for the heat of the sun and the sonorous voices of mosquitoes. Fellow Nigerian youths, we know that the #ENDSARS protest isn’t just about SARS and police brutality but a vital call for the total reform of the different sectors of our national life.
“While we are aware that the decades of mistrust between our leaders and the led have left little room for us to trust these promises of the government, we must also realise that some of these demands will take time to manifest.
“We are using this medium to appeal to our fellow young Nigerians to consider PAUSING the protest while we give reasonable timelines and deliverables acceptable to both the people and the government to see these demands materialize.
“We don’t want to lose the goodwill garnered so far by continued protests which are now doing more harms to the ordinary people whom this call was to cater for in the first place. There have been reports of great discomfort to people across the country who are trying to get back to earning a legitimate living after months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic; more concerning is the daily reports of death.
“Yesterday, there were reports that three persons died in Edo. In Ondo, a car rammed into protesters, killing one and injuring others.
“Greatest Nigerian Youths, our thoughts goes to the families. We pray they find comfort. It is only logical that the protests cease for now while we identify other strategic means of engaging the government that won’t put our fellow Nigerians in further discomfort.
“We the young stakeholders of the governing party who are first Nigerians before our partisan affiliation are committed to using all political resources available to us to ensure the government delivers all it has promised and timely too.
“This press conference is one of our many planned activities to engage all the concerned agencies of the government to ensure compliance with the promises made. It is time to give the government a chance to work on these promises.
“Any further discomfort or even loss of life cannot be justified. We ask our fellow youths, to please leave the streets for their houses and place work or businesses. We ask them to stop putting themselves and others at risk. We want no further deaths. There is no need for any more bloodshed.
“As Young stakeholders of the governing party, We promise to put enough pressure on the government to ensure that these reforms are speedy, complete and comprehensive.
“Oh, we won’t rest! We will fight the fight! This is a promise we ask you to hold us on. Our fellow Nigerian youths, tomorrow is still very bright. We don’t want to win the battle and lose the War. Lets not allow people from within and outside with ulterior motives hijack the struggle for selfish gains.
“Let’s leave the streets and go back home. If possible, form civil organizations that will engage government even better! Let’s not make other people suffer. We need not block roads as people with emergencies are bound to be in them. We need not ground commercial activities as people need to eat. We should not be the monsters we are trying to fight!” the group noted.