The #EndSARS protest reverberated across the world with an undiluted message — stop police brutality in Nigeria. Sadly, it degenerated into several unintended turns that led to sorrows, tears and blood. Young Nigerians simply wanted to raise voices in order to put an end to police oppression; mostly from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Police force, and bad leadership in governance. We simply wanted to be heard!
Rather than being heard, and provided assurances that things will never remain the same, then show convincing steps that seek to genuinely earn trust, President Buhari’s led administration committed one of the gravely atrocities in the history of our nation, opened firearms at young protesters, murdering their dreams and aspirations.
It is very important to establish that the Nigerian government has never been assuring in its processes and intents. This led to the refusal of protesters to take the words of the government for what it is. Or how best can one explain that barely after the Inspector General of Police disbanded the Special Anti-Robbery Squad widely known for illegalities in the discharge of its duties, a new unit by the name SWAT was established without the demanded reforms.
The #EndSARS protesters eschewed wildly celebrated and sophisticated form of coordination alien to the Nigerian Government, as such, letting the world know that a new Nigeria where things work is achievable if only we unite.
One of the unpardonable sins of President Buhari to young Nigerians who
largely supported his election in 2015, and re-election bid in 2019, despite being deprived of an enabling environment, was recorded at the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting in London, in 2018. While responding to questions on infrastructural development amongst other issues raised from the audience, he insinuated that most of the Nigerian youths would rather lazy around and simply expect to be spoon-fed from oil revenue — the same revenue that has largely being mismanaged and poorly accounted for.
What kind of a father says such a degrading thing about his children on an international stage? Knowing fully well that being a two-term commander-in-chief provided him with one of the rarest opportunities to remarkably position the average Nigerian, most especially the youths to compete in all spheres at the global space. Without mincing words, President Buhari doesn’t have so much to show for such an opportunity. Rather than showcase and market the resilience of the Nigerian Youth to the world, in spite of tough economic climate and deficit infrastructural development, no! our dear father, President Buhari, decided to portray young Nigerians as lazy, uneducated and uninspired.
One would have felt that Mr. President would jump on such an amazing opportunity to reveal the human capital, the entrepreneurial and creative acumen of the largely young demographic populace, whose inputs have been globally recognized in several sectors including entertainment, art, technology and fashion. What a capital damage!
As the father of the Nigerian nation who equally have youths as biological children, one would have felt that the opportunities provided by the #EndSARS agitation would be considered golden, by reforming the Police and leading the change towards the end of bad leadership by reforming our major institutions.
Rather than look inwardly and take the ample request of young Nigerians, President stabbed them openly. Unfortunately, as any fatherless child would do, young Nigerians had to call on leaders from other nations to come to their rescue. It will be un-erasable in the history of our nation, that this administration ordered the shooting of unarmed protesters in the most disgraceful and inhumane manner anyone could ever think of.
The Lekki massacre that led to the death of young protesters on the Black Tuesday, 20th of October 2020, which also left many others injured, is definitely going to be one of the most barbaric and painful experience our nation would record. And it’s very unfortunate that the father of the nation under whose watch it happened has remained mute, for almost 48 hours after the dastardly incidence.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State, has been quite phenomenal in his approach to ensure that the Lagos Protest remained peaceful. He showed exemplary leadership by engaging the protesters on several occasions, indeed he showed that he has listening hears when he swiftly took the #5for5 request made by protesters to President Buhari in Abuja.
However, the senseless shooting that occurred last Tuesday has made a huge mess of what is left of the miniature goodwill he has been struggling to build since he assumed office in 2019. He definitely has several questions to answer and one can only hope that he will sincerely unravel many of the grey areas, regardless of whose ox is goad. Actions that preceded the shooting and killing of young protesters in Lekki who were waving the Nigerian flag and signing the Nigerian National Anthem must be timely investigated and more importantly, justice must prevail.
These are some of the unforgettable sins of President Buhari. If we are able to forgive genuinely, how do we deal with forgetting the deaths of our heroes and heroines who simply wanted a better Nigeria?
Olagunju is a Lagos based fact Checker