Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu met on Tuesday with President Muhammadu Buhari over the rising #EndSARS protests in Lagos State, submitting the demands of youth protesters as requested.
The Lagos Governor delivered the demands of the #EndSARS protesters to the President at the Presidential Villa.
Briefing State House Correspondents afterwards, he urged the protesters to trust that this time their demands are being met, including increased salaries for the police which he says will begin in earnest but won’t be overnight since it is a budgetary issue.
Sanwo-Olu said the implementation of their demands will commence in earnest after the Inspector General of Police briefs the Nigerian Governors’ Forum Wednesday.
When asked the reaction of the President to the demands submitted, he says the President agrees with all the demands made and wants the demands implemented immediately.
‘I just had a brief meeting with Mr President. It is indeed an honour he has accorded me this afternoon to meet with him, even after the very important meeting with other governors.
‘The essence of the meeting is to pass on the clarion call of all our youths that are protesting in different parts of the country on the ENDSARS NOW. Mr President graciously accepted the letter that was given to me by the youths to personally deliver to him. He graciously received the letter and we went through it very very briefly. I explained to him all the things that we are doing.
‘Earlier today, I also met with the IGP, who also shared the same sentiments regarding the various well thought demands by youths. He has also assured me that later today that they will be making further pronouncements.
‘Part of the take away for me is that all the governors are on the same page, we are having a Governors’ Forum meeting tomorrow.
‘The IG will be briefing is at that meeting and further clear directives and decisions will be taken by all the Governors.
‘I can tell you and all our youths out there that Mr. President has listened, your letter is documented, it has received attention and he has assured me that all of the things that you have said there he will see how he will begin to implement them almost immediately.
‘Like I did mention earlier today in Lagos, we had pushed ahead to implement the first two and the third one which I needed their approval, so that we can put this thing behind us. And in partnership with the youth, we understand and we feel them.
‘They have spoken and spoken very well and we heard loud and clear, nationally and internationally. So, I believe it’s been a just cause, it’s a cause that is worth fighting for. We have made them realise that we have listened to them as their leaders and have taken up the pieces of all the lessons and we have all learnt from it and we believe that not only will we see a better police reform, a better relationship between the Government and the ones that are governed but we will begin to see a better relationship at all spheres of Government going forward.’
On what Government can do to regain the trust of the people especially the youths protesting police brutality, the Governor said: ‘But this is the first time that governors are taking this up, this is the first time I am aware of that we are even joining in that kind of a crusade. Personally, I have been out two times within the last 48 hours, in solidarity with them, acknowledging first that their points are well taken and their constitutional rights.
‘So the first point is that it is well taken, we are not in denial, we are not colouring it, we accepted all the issues that have been said and so this is very different from the others. And there has been genuine efforts to love that conversation forward.
‘Certainly, some are work in progress. I told Mr. President that they want us to increase the salary of the police he did agree with me. But you and I know that that will not happen today, it is a budgetary process. Everybody agrees and accept that indeed it must happen.
‘The IGP said some of them said thar we should set up a phycho-social analysis for most of them. They might financial, domestic, environmental pressure that we do not know they have. He said he will make sure they go through that process, so these are real engagements we are see and is different from other things that have happened.
‘They said we should set up trust fund to be able to pay some compensation. There is no compensation you can pay for the loss of a loved one but it’s just something to ameliorate that suffering. I had earlier made announcement on that, that has never happened before. And I am sure others also in my space will do the same, even the IGP is coming tomorrow to brief the governors. These are definitive steps that you are seeing that we are taking collectively, to ensure that we bring this to a final closure and we do not lose the lessons of what the youths have said to us clearly.’
On asked physical the things that can convince the youth,Sanwo-Olu said: ‘When you say physically, obviously increasing the salary of police will not happen tomorrow. So it’s a process but you will see the conversation that indeed we all agreed that they need more. The physical always thing you will see is that we have released all the Protestants arrested yesterday, not one of them stayed beyond three or four hours at the station, we released all of them conditionally. That is physical.
‘The fund to compensate families that have lost loved ones has been done immediately, that is physical. So we are seeing those physical lines moving. There are some that will not happen today or tomorrow and will take time.
‘You gentlemen of the press also have the responsibility to populate the information clearly that indeed, their voices have been heard, their demands are genuine and real.
‘As a father, it’s a real concern when you realize that you don’t really know your son that much, given what my own son had faced, what my daughter had asked me to do. Indeed, it was a clarion call for me and so it speaks to how did we get here, how did we miss it and we are indeed grateful that they have been able to correct us and they have been able to show that they are indeed leaders of tomorrow.
‘So for me, their voices have been heard, their grievances are real and we are going to begin to see a better relationship going forward.’
Meanwhile, the NGF has announced that the 19th Teleconference meeting will hold Wednesday.
Director General of the NGF Asishana Bayo Okauru, said the meeting fixed for 2 pm will see IGP Mohammed Adamu explain the security situation in the country to the Governors, particularly regarding the SARS protests.
The meeting will also take reports from technical committee on electricity tariffs.
The Ministers of Works and Housing, Communications and Digital Economy and Humanitarian Services and Disaster Management will also be on hand to address the Governors, one after the other.
The Humanitarian Resources and Disaster Management Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq will be discussing how to lift a hundred million Nigerians out of Poverty with the Governors.
Other matters that would be arising at the meeting would include the NESG Summit scheduled for the last quarter of the year, the conclusions of the distribution of palliatives by the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) a conglomeration of banks and some pubic spirited philanthropists including Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), an update on the World Bank assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability programme for results (SFTAS) and another on the Governor Okowa Committee which briefs the Governors regularly on the activities of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the COVID-19 pandemic.