By Ogbo Okolo
According to John C. Maxwell, Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.
In the last two weeks, Nigerians (the youth) have risen to demand an end to the Special Armed-Robbery Squad popularly known and referred to as SARS. Their call has been widespread with the hashtag #endsars. They took it to another level by adding #endpolicebrutality and also #endmaladministration. I must appreciate the initial step taken by the government via their swift response to the initial call through the Presidential fiat on the 12th of October and even went further to promise extra judicial killings investigations, police reform among others. How come SARS have been scrapped four times in three years and we are still where we are?
Looking at the supremacy of our existence and as a nation, the constitution is clear under chapter IV on Fundamental human rights. Sub-Sections 33-41 including citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly. This brings me to the incidence that took place in Lagos, Abuja, Jos, Kano and other parts of the country.
So, what do these youngsters (Future Leaders) actually want? Or maybe they feel a sense of disconnect. I would begin by stating that from time immemorial, the youth have always been the target of the force, be it Police, DSS, Army, etc. I wouldn’t want us to revisit the APO 6 but dwell on the latest being the death of Ifeoma Abugu in the hands of SARS operatives. I don’t mean that these respected force men shouldn’t carry out their duties especially on erring ones, but their actions must be in accordance with the standard rules of operations or engagement. So many in SARS have even forgotten the mandate of which they were set up in 1991 which principally was to gauge and wage war against armed robbery and bank thieves. Nowadays, they have deviated from that original motive such as meddling into family issues such as land tussle, marital/relationship issues, debt recovery, checking of phones and ultimately road blocks (their factory and mainstay).
Tuesday October 20th 2020 is a day Nigerians won’t be in a hurry to forget (BLACK TUESDAY). Many are still mystified with the turn of events which started on Monday the 19th. Protesters were going about their usual peaceful protest by the Central Area and precisely in front of the nation’s apex bank (CBN). The heavens were let loose when it was gathered that a lorry load of hoodlums were being conveyed from Nyanya Karu axis into the city center wielding sticks and some knives (it’s all in the public). Those unarmed youth and journalists who managed to run for safety to Police Force Headquarters (Luis Edet House) knew what they got in return. Same authority that these young generations are fighting for their improved welfare and even showed love to one of their officers. These hoodlums who are ‘’Pro SARS’’ didn’t stop at that, they went further to APO axis and we are all aware of how they burnt a varying number of cars belonging to struggling Nigerians who are trying to make ends meet.
The climax being the incidence that started in Abuja Wuse 2. Most of these thugs were conveyed in a covered Black Jeep and buses to cause more mayhem, yet the security officers looked the other way. We moved over to Lagos. The invasion of Lekki is something we would ever live to ponder. Did the protesting youth open fire that they were shot at? Who ordered the military invasion, the Governor or ‘’Oga at the top’’? We seem to forget the reputational and country risk as the consequences of some of these barbaric actions or ease of doing business.
All over the world, peaceful protest is one of exclusive rights of citizens and ours was well encapsulated in chapter IV of the constitution. Americans did so recently over Floyd’s death (I can’t breathe) it spread to the UK & other parts of the world…They sent Police to ensure they are well protected…but in Nigeria, we send thugs and open fire (Live bullets on unarmed citizens). Their Sin, our sin… demanding for a better NIGERIA!!! We are also aware that some persons have approached the court seeking order of perpetual injunction and asking for the sum of $1billion payment from the owners of Twitter, it is ok.
My advice for the President and I hope is fully aware of all these happenings, is to gauge the kind of advice he gets from his handlers. President Buhari swore an oath to protect the lives and properties of citizens and the time has come for him to be seen to rise to the occasion and put an end to these issues. A word from the President is urgently needed (not from his spokesperson) but as the Father of the nation to avert the unwarranted loss of lives and properties. These new generations are not ready to bulge nor reason at the same frequency as they keep asking for Justice and a new dawn, and I don’t blame them. Their parents spend so much to give them good education, they try to graduate and have lost hope in being gainfully employed in the non-existent job (they do not know the big and mighty). Most of them are at home because the Government is yet to fully conclude negotiations with striking lecturers, at home, they don’t have light and when the light is available, we now measure its usage in homes due to increased tariff. Everything is on the increase and workers’ salaries have refused to grow with inflation now at 13.7%; they decide to travel, another next level because the roads are bad and unsafe.
Finally, in as much as we appreciate the leadership of the National Assembly especially the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, Nigerians are calling on NBA, Civil liberty organizations, Human Rights Comission and organizations, Non-Governmental organizations to ask salient questions, The blood of the innocent young ones are begging for answers and justice. May we not have another Black Tuesday and May God answer our prayers?
Ogbo Okolo(Omekannia)…writes from Abuja