Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, in the wake of the violence that followed the initial peaceful EndSARS protests, has enjoined the youths to engage in constructive dialogue with government in making their demands and not to allow hoodlums take over the process.
The minister made the declaration in a statement released on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to the statement Ogah who was at a Special Stakeholders Town-Hall Meeting held in Umuahia, Abia State, recently stated that violence and carnage will only set the country back, saying infrastructure destroyed, will be repaired with taxpayers money, monies which would have been channelled to areas that will enhance better living.
Ogah praised the maturity exhibited by the youths when they began the protest, saying “the voice of the #EndSARS protests, which resonated loudly across the States of the Federation and even outside our shores, showed the capacity of Nigerian youths to challenge the status quo and their resolution to demand a better country not only for themselves but for generations yet to come.
“Your message was loud and clear! I heard you! We heard you! I am indeed immensely proud of you”. Adding that government is already taken steps to address their grievances.
The Minister, however, regretted the hijack of the protest by hoodlums and condemned the series of violence that resulted in colossal damages and other nefarious activities that have cast an ugly shadow on the beauty of the peaceful protests, downplaying its gains.
He stressed that no society can prosper from conflict nor can any nation thrive in anarchy. He, therefore, enjoined every citizen of Abia, especially the youths, to join hands with the
authorities to profer solution and eschew violence.
Ogah reiterated that the Federal Government has kept faith with the genuine demands of the youths, adding that it is the duty of every citizen to help maintain peace “Even when we choose to disagree with this Administration in certain areas, the truth is that we cannot get that which we desire without engaging constructively with the government,” he emphasized.
He, therefore, sympathised with those who lost their loved ones, the wounded and those whose rights were severely violated as a result of their encounter with the recently disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, and assured of Federal Government’s commitment to ensure that justice is done to each and every victim.
In his remarks, the Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, called on all stakeholders to deploy everything within their powers to appeal to the youths to desist from the destruction of public and private properties. He said government has noted their grievances and will take steps to address them.
Ikpeazu decried the magnitude of destruction including the looting of 4 banks, burning of onions market, police station, among others in the State. He commiserated with those who lost their lives and properties in the protest and assured of his administration’s continued efforts to empower the youths.
Also speaking, the Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria (Abia Chapter), Engr. Smith Sylvanus, urged the State Government to empower the youth through sustainable skill acquisition programmes, as well as creating an enabling environment that will involve youths in leadership positions at all government levels in the State.