By Temidayo Akinsuyi
LAGOS – The seeming indifference of President Muhammadu Buhari to the ongoing #EndSARS protests across which has taken a violent dimension in some parts of the state, especially in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is beginning to give Nigerians a source of concern.
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state and his counterpart in Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu were forced to declare 24 hours curfew in their respective states after the protests were hijacked by hoodlums who attacked police stations, looted shops and even set free some inmates at the Correctional Centre (Prison) in Benin.
The President on Monday said he recognises the democratic rights of the Nigerian youth to peaceful protests, urging them to beware of anarchists who may hijack their gatherings for selfish motives.
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who briefed journalists at the State House, Abuja, on Monday after a meeting with the President, quoted Buhari to have advised the youths to always be on the alert so that miscreants would not take advantage of their genuine intention.
“Firstly he said, he recognises their democratic rights to protest. Secondly, he made an appeal that this protest wherever held, should be done in a peaceful manner. And thirdly, he said the Nigerian youth should be on their guard to make sure that elements that would infiltrate and distract them from the very purpose of their protest should be prevented from doing so,’’ he said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo last week apologised to Nigerians and admits the Federal Government could have “moved faster” in addressing the demands of #EndSARS protesters.
According to him “Dear Nigerians, I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry. I fully understand how many young people feel. Many feel that we have been too silent and have simply not done enough. These feelings of frustration are justified.”
However, many Nigerians felt the President and not the Vice-President ought to have addressed the nation via a national broadcast since he is in charge and not on vacation.
ActionAid Nigeria in a statement signed by Mrs Ene Obi, Country Director of the organisation has appealed to President Buhari to address the nation and give a clear-cut response to the demands of the #EndSARS protesters before it is too late.
According to Obi, ActionAid has been following the unfolding events amidst the agitations by the citizens and has deemed it fit to further address emerging trends in the ongoing protest.
“The protest has moved from being a social media campaign to a peaceful protest by Nigerians across the globe in the last 13 days, with clear demands on the abolition of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), accused of unlawful arrests, torture, and extra-judicial killings.
“Nigerians anticipate clear plans, timelines, and commitments, which will be in form of a pact with the citizens. The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, should see this as an opportunity to write his name in the sands of time by starting the process of transforming this country, especially by responding to the demands of citizens”.
Also, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties has urged the President to address the nation and calm nerves amidst the ongoing protest spreading across the country.
The CNPP, in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, “There is a time silence is not golden and such a time is now. For the President to continue to keep quiet while peacefully protesting young Nigerians are being brutalised and killed by security operatives raises doubt on how sensitive the current administration is to the plights of suffering Nigerians”.
“In case Mr President and his handlers has forgotten, in the dark days of military dictatorship both the people and the Nigerian media were gagged using the barrels of the gun but it never worked. If it didn’t work under the military dictatorships in the past, how do President Buhari and his handlers think rolling out tanks and oppressive weapons will be an answer to genuine demand for reforming the Nigeria Police Force?” CNPP asked. (Daily Independent)