• Govt has shown laudable sensitivity to grievances
All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has pleaded with the #ENDSARS protesters to end it, having “made considerable gains within a very short period.”
He said with President Muhammadu Buhari’s showing of “laudable sensitivity to their grievances”, it is time for them to leave the streets because the change they desired could not be achieved in an atmosphere of “endless protests.”
Reflecting on the on-going protests last night in a statement titled: “ENDSARS Protest: The Remedy national mamadies is more or less, democracy,” the former Lagos State governor commended the youths at the vanguard of the protest for their good organization, which has shown their dexterity, but warned that such should not be fritted away.
Tinubu hailed religious leaders for their patriotism and high sense of responsibility at thie rsentitive time and urged them to prevail on their teeming followers to end the protest now and give peace a chance because the government needs time to implement its commitment to the demands of the youths.
Giving further reasons why the protest should end, he said: “This process of change should be supported and cannot be done in an atmosphere of endless protests that are also crippling an economy already enfeebled by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He explained that “It is only fair that government must be given the chance to implement the reforms demanded by the protesters. This can certainly not be done instantaneously by the waving of a magic wand.
“If government had not implemented promised reforms in the past, the swiftness with which it has responded to the demands of the protesters this time around shows that that there is a positive change by government, both of attitude and of a new sense of urgency.”
He said: “The intent of the organisers of the protests is to achieve stated objectives on police reform, which the government has in principle accepted. It can certainly not be their motive to cause generalized anarchy or effect regime change. If they give the impression that that is their goal, then any government will necessarily have to act with the requisite decisiveness and force to restore law and order and preserve constitutional rule.
“Their democratic right to protest must not be exercised in such a way that impedes the democratic right of other citizens to freedom of movement, expression and the liberty to pursue their livelihoods.”
Noting that the protests underscored the growth of democratic culture, he said impunity and lawlessness demonstrated by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS) were incompatible with the values and tenets of democracy.
He said lovers of democracy and rule of law cannot be opposed to the legitimate demands of the protesters.
Tinubu hailed the protesters for their sense of maturity, restraint and responsibility, adding that the agitations underscored the power of the people.
Tinubu said the protesters should acknowledge that President Buhari had reacted to the protests by scrapping SARS and accepting their five-point demands.
He said while the protesters have recorded some gains, they should not fritter them away due to lack of moderation and strategic thinking.
He lamented that hoodlums, thugs and other criminals have capitalised on the protests to perpetrate violence, harass and intimidate innocent citizens.
Tinubu said:” I also strongly appeal to the protesters. You have made your point. Government has made its commitment to you. Please, please and please, call off the protests. Give government a chance to implement your demands.”
Tinubu added: “For the past twelve days, our country has witnessed massive protests by youths in different cities, which were ignited by widespread disenchantment with the gross human rights abuses including torture, extortion, harassment, intimidation and even extra-judicial killings of Nigerians by members of the disbanded Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS).
“The demands for fundamental police reforms by the protesting youths are in pursuit of our aspiration in our national anthem “to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign”. Justice as one of our greatest writers has memorably noted is “the first condition of humanity”.
“A society where those who are paid from the public purse to protect the lives and property of the people become themselves threats to the liberty, safety and dignity of the people; where human life is difficult to distinguish from Thomas Hobbes ‘State of Nature – ‘solitary, poor, nasty and brutish’ is not one fit for free and decent people to live in.
“Such impunity and lawlessness are incompatible with the values and tenets of a democratic society governed by the supremacy of the rule of law.
“It is impossible for anyone truly committed to the rule of law, democracy and good governance to be opposed to the concern and demands of the protesters. There is no way that any society can make meaningful progress without the enthronement of these values.
“The protesters have for the better part of the commencement of their civil action conducted themselves with an admirable sense of responsibility, restraint and maturity. This is commendable.
“Indeed, the high level of organization demonstrated by the protesting youths shows a new level of consciousness of the capability of a vigilant civil society as well as the efficacy of people’s power. This can only ultimately strengthen the country’s democratic evolution and sustainability.
“The impunity of SARS was thus a challenge that the youth have responded positively and courageously to and has triggered the commencement of the fundamental reform of the country’s policing system.
“But then, the protesters must admit that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has acted with commendable dispatch by not only scrapping SARS but also accepting the five-point demand that triggered the protests. This shows a laudable sensitivity to the grievances of the youths.
“The vigour and vibrancy of the protests are an indication of the growing strength of the democratic culture in Nigeria. It is a demonstration of the beauty of democracy and its promotion and protection of people’s power.
“However, the protesters must be careful not to set the stage for the erosion or destruction of the same democratic process that gives them the freedom and right to protest in the first place.
“Their democratic right to protest must not be exercised in such a way that impedes the democratic right of other citizens to freedom of movement, expression and the liberty to pursue their livelihoods.
“The fight for police reforms is surely to promote and protect the wellbeing of millions of Nigerians. It is a contradiction for the protesters to act in ways that will further worsen the economic well being of the very people they are fighting for.
“It is important that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) utilize this protest as an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and recommit itself to the values for which the party was formed through extraordinary hard work, dedication and commitment.
“There is no doubt that the party has recorded tremendous achievements in diverse sectors since 2015. But it now has to sit back, examine the gaps between its promises and its performance in order to make necessary amends.
“It is a good sign that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Lagos and a number of other state governments have speedily set up judicial panels of inquiry into acts of police brutality over the years. I urge the state governments which are yet to do so to emulate this example.
“This process of change should be supported and this cannot be done in an atmosphere of endless protests that are also crippling an economy already enfeebled by the COVID-19 pandemic.