Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has called on Nigerian youths to immediately put an end to the anti-SARS protests currently rocking major cities across the country, saying they should engage in dialogue table with the government
Bello made the call on Monday in his address to Nigerian youths, the 5th in a series of addresses to the protesters since the start of their protests about 10 days ago.
He said the protesting youths have over the last 10 days demonstrated resilience and courage in making their demands known to the government, adding, however, that it was time that the leaders of the protests come engaged with the government.
According to him, it would be difficult for the governments at all levels to know with whom to interface in resolving some of the issues raised by the protests if there are no leaders, adding that opportunists could hijack the gains of the protests.
‘In like manner, the real leaders and spokespersons of these protests must also begin to “show face” now to enable government at all levels know who to interface with,’ the Governor stated.
‘We cannot even appoint people into the various bodies being set up to address your demands without being afraid that opportunists who have no credibility with you are high-jacking it.
‘May I, therefore, request that the protesters give us people to engage with, especially on the timeliest schedules for calling it a day which accommodates all reasonable demands.’
The Governor warned that notwithstanding the discontent and grievances being expressed by Nigerians, they must resist the temptation of using the current situation to seek an undemocratic change in leadership.
‘It goes without saying that despite different levels of dissatisfaction with the status quo in our country among the citizenry, it is unwise to think that a change of leadership other than by clear-cut democratic means will be tolerated by citizens.
‘Those interested in Mr President’s seat must wait for 2023 and when it is finally up for grabs, they must present themselves to the Nigerian electorate, duly nominated as flagbearers for any party of their choice. It is as simple as that. Ditto for any other duly elected seat or office,’ he said.
Bello said there have been calls on youths in Kogi State to engage in more protests, adding that while he is not against peaceful protests in the State, he advises demonstrators against blocking major highways which could cause hardships to citizens.
‘As we go into a new week, I have seen several advertisements calling for more protests in Kogi State. As usual, I am all for peaceful protests, but I do caution that all gatherings must maintain empathy for others who may not wish to march with you at this time.
‘In particular, given our unique position as the gateway to the North and South of the country, I must demand respect for the right of road users. People cannot be emerging from months of lockdown, be in the process of trying to rebuild their lives only to be thrown back into extended lockdowns again by barricades set up by protesters on public thoroughfares.
‘We are making these cautionary statements at this time as a responsible government which is keyed into, and even quite ahead of, the national response to your demands.
‘We will not relent in putting in early warning systems for detecting, and sustainable safeguards for checkmating, abuses against the human rights of citizens, especially the youths, by law enforcement agencies.
‘At the same time, we are committed to making the work easier for our police by providing them with training in modern policing, professional therapy/counselling and supply of kits at no cost. Making Nigeria great is a task which belongs to all of us,’ the Governor said.