From Emmanuel Adeyemi Lokoja
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has appealed to Nigerian youths to shelve any plan of embarking on another round of#EndSARS protests, saying such move would be premature, dangerous and counterproductive.
Bello in a special broadcast to Nigerian youths on Sunday, said he was worried following intelligence reports that youths were mobilising to resume another round of#EndSARS protests in some selected cities beginning from tomorrow, Monday December 7.
According to him, there was urgent need for all relevant stakeholders to take steps that would ensure the country does not witness another round of #EndSARS protests.
He said the country was yet to recover from the devastating impacts of the last #EndSARS protests whichever were hijacked by hoodlums who unleashed unimaginable mayhem on innocent people and engaged in massive looting and destructions of both public and private infrastructures across the country.
According to him, another round of protests will worsen the already precarious security situation and economic recession currently bedeviling the country.
“I deem another round of #EndSARS protests to be premature and counter-productive at this time. Apart from the higher likelihood of conflict with the police earlier canvassed, we must also admit that the security situation in the country is very precarious at the moment.
“All patriots must therefore make conscious efforts not to degrade a parlous security situation further. Nationwide protests at this time will only overburden the load-bearing capabilities of our security architecture increasing the likelihood of total collapse. No matter the narrative, I doubt that out-of-control anarchy is an objective of the #EndSARS protests.
“It is also true that we live in an economy that is bleeding badly right now. Traditional responses to COVID-19 has hurt, not just Nigeria, but all other countries of the world. Many have fallen into recession.
“To worsen matters, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) predicted 3 days ago that the pandemic could push the number of people living in extreme poverty to over 1 billion by 2030. Thank God they are owning up to my earlier prediction, warning and caution.
“Nigeria’s earning and foreign exchange situation is too fragile as we speak to resist sustained shocks. Another nationwide protest will worsen the multidimensional poverty indices all over our country and work greater hardship on the ordinary Nigerians we claim to be advocating for”, he said.
He said apart from the negative impacts of such protests on security situation and the nation’s economy, it will also will also lead to disruptions f several social activities and celebrations people have already planned during the Yuletide season.
“There are also sociocultural implications. Nigerians tend to travel a lot during the Christmas holidays. Statistics show that travel during this period is not only for pleasure as widely supposed.
“For many of our people, this is the only time in the year when they can attend to pressing life responsibilities like marriages, hospital appointments, funerals of loved ones and even community improvement events.
“As a Governor, I am aware hundreds of such events will happen in towns big and small in my state and beyond. Many have been fixed for months or even years in advance with much expense already gone into planning.
“All of these will be disrupted by nationwide protests at this time and I appeal to the great Nigerian youths not to be the harbingers of so much pain and loss to their compatriots – individuals, families and communities alike.
“Then of course, we have sociopolitical reasons to thread carefully. We have the example of countries which have gone the path of chaotic social change only to collapse as proof that action and caution are siamese twins in the journey of all successful revolutions” he said.
He said the government in response to earlier demands by the Nigerian youths, had set up panels in various states of the federation where issues of abuses and human rights violations were currently being handled, adding that the youths should explore that avenue to seek redress.
Governor Bello also advised the youths to look beyond protests as the only means of effecting social change in the country, adding they should begin to organise themselves to take part in the 2023 political process which could help them to effect the necessary changes in the country.
“Contrary to perceptions, 2023 General Elections are not far at all. If God keeps our lives, we are only about 800 days away from February, 2023 when all of this youthful energy can be harnessed and channeled properly for a true revolution via the ballot box. Till then, there is more than enough work before the #EndSARS group.
“I therefore appeal to the Nigerian Youth, especially the #EndSARS protesters, to rethink all plans for protests at this time, and indeed before the Panels have rounded off their assignments. Such would be premature, dangerous and above all, counter-productive to our stated aims and objectives.
“I must also stress that when all is said and done, the fastest route to desired social change in a democracy is via the political process. The guarantee of periodic elections and change of guard in government is one reason never to burn it all down at once. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the US protesters is how much they have utilised the ballot box in 2020”, he said.