Following weeks of outcry and expressions of anger, from visual content on social media showing how members of the infamous Nigerian Police subgroup, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, popularly known as SARS were seen brutalizing, harassing, and extorting young people, a nation-wide protest on #ENDSARS ensued.
These protests were led predominantly by young Nigerians in different cities alongside many activists and celebrities, who had seen enough and sprung to take action.
The first two days of the peaceful protests around the country saw many young Nigerians troop out and show support for the cause, others have taken to social media and other channels to amplify the objective of the protest which is simply to be able to live without fear of harassment from these men.
On the 11th of October 2020, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, publicly announced the disbandment of this notorious police group. Coincidentally, during the protest that day, some young Nigerians were still shot and killed by members of the police force. This, coupled with the fact that a ‘disbandment’ of this ill-reputed group announced in the year 2017 and 2018, was a story Nigerians had heard too often. It therefore deemed the IGP’s pronouncements insufficient. What they wanted, was an ‘Executive Order’ from the President, Muhammad Buhari, but the silence that came from the government and other notable powers only seemed to fuel the oppressed.
The lack of empathy and care shown by the government, big Nigerian corporations, religious organizations, and other Influential Nigerians have broadened the scope of the movement to not just the police force but to the entire Nigerian operating system. All of the characteristics attributed to the running of the infamous Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) has been likened to how the entire country has been run for decades.
- The non-existent regard for life - this is highlighted in the county’s attitude towards the concernment of healthcare, education, transportation, and the judicial and legal systems.
- On extortion - the salaries and allowances to several government officials with respect to the minimum wage and the lofty rates of taxes, levies, and duties, with nothing to show for it.
- Harassment, Intimidation, and Accountability - Embodying this, is the history of voter suppression tactics employed by many facets of the government over the years; several cases of indiscipline; and a multitude of allegations of fraud and diversion of public funds that have been unaccounted for.
The protests have exposed many more people to what can be done better and what every citizen is deserving of, young people who have been labelled ‘Lazy Nigerian youths’ in a week, in the mobilization of these protests have been able to show that they can competently take on roles in Finance, Healthcare, Justice, Human Rights, Environment and Communication Media, all of these, on a stringent budget but in full transparency, a lacking quality of what they have ever experienced from past generations.
In the words of the late American Investigative journalist, I.F Stone, “The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you’re going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins.”
The Nigerian youths have woken up and have found their power, they’ve had enough, they know better and in all honesty, have nothing much to lose, they are not backing down from this movement challenging the status quo and demanding what is right, they know that if they don’t, nobody else will, and that’s where they derive their power.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 Oluwatosin Raji