ENDSARS: Dear President Muhammadu Buhari, time is running out

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By Basheer Luqman Olarewaju-Unique

Since the end of World War II, there have been roughly 50 major revolutions that had either toppled autocratic regimes or led to significant political reform in “flawed” democracies. For those revolutions that have occurred under dictatorships, only about a third have resulted in transitions to democracy.

Two infamous cases that might raise some alarm bells about the Middle East today are the theocracy that followed Iran’s 1979 revolution, and the “republican” dictatorships of Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak after Egypt’s 1952 revolution. Similarly, the checkered political histories of post-revolutionary China, Cuba, Mexico and Russia might make even the most fervent revolutionaries take pause.

Still, the minority of the democracies that have managed to emerge in the aftermath of their revolutionary ferment provide cause for optimism. Less than a handful of those revolutionary transitions have reverted to dictatorship. For every Kyrgyzstan, where there has been autocratic backsliding since the Tulip Revolution, there are a dozen examples of democracies that have arisen in the wake of revolution — including surprises such as the Philippines.

The recent killings of protesters in Nigeria as a result of the showdown between the security forces and the citizen activists calling for the total end for a unit of Nigeria Police – Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has cast a dark cloud on what many had hoped would serve as a model for democratic transition in countries swept by the corrupt leaders and bad governance. The sad fact is that many revolutions lead to renewed dictatorships. But the good news is that even a rocky and prolonged transition can produce stable democracy.

The country is at the verge of crossroad, again. The yarning of the citizens could not be overlooked and the leadership takes more time to discern the issues at hands with an analytical mind. There are clear indications that Nigeria is now in the triumvirate of a colour revolution and hybrid warfare, and agent agitators are now trying to force the hand of the government towards employing violent suppression of the protests so as to delegitimize the government for a sinister motive.

As a people, it is important to understand that, one should leave the stage when the ovation is at the loudest. The demands of the protesters are well appreciated and the leadership lacks quick response mechanics to show responsiveness which gives more opportunities for new adventure of calamities across the breadth and width of the country. One would conclude that this was a deliberate ploy to use people’s legitimate demands to achieve a devilish agenda by certain foreign nations and some local dissatisfied elites who are in the shadow.

This pattern has been used in various areas where people’s liberation movements have been used as a Trojan horse to infiltrate and destroy a nation if care is not taken at the right time in proper quantity, the civil war is looming as it shows in our collective faces.

Unarguably, citizens are a powerful force for change. That is why more and more governments are doing what they can to silence them — from Russia to China to Venezuela and more. Citizenship gives us a sense of belonging on why oneness of voice in our society is so essential. When people are free to speak their minds and hold their leaders accountable, governments are more responsive and more effective. When entrepreneurs are free to create and develop new ideas, then economies are more innovative and attract more trade and investment, and ultimately become more prosperous.

“When communities, including minorities, are free to live and pray and love as they choose; when nations uphold the rights of all their people — including, perhaps especially, women and girls — then those countries are more likely to thrive. If you want strong, successful countries, you need strong, vibrant civil societies. When citizens are free to organize and work together across borders to make our communities healthier, our environment cleaner, and our world safer, that’s when real change comes” – Barrack Obama.

Dear President Muhammadu Buhari, it is high time you summoned the courage and present error-free speech that would be televised to your children – Nigerian Youths. It is now a good time to avert the unknown calamities ahead of us all as a country for if the protesters continue this way, the end result is uncertain. It is important for you to know and realize that the most important and significant title is not ‘President or Prime Minister’; the most important and significant title is ‘Citizen’.

As a result of grievances shown by Nigerians, some families had lost their breadwinners, Nigeria has lost youths who seemed having bright future, economy is cracking down spontaneously, society is not at peace and the blockage of roads across the nooks and crannies of the country inflicted untold hardship on workers and other commuters, many of whom walked for hours to get to their destinations.

I strongly urge the Government and the protest leaders (that’s if there are) at this point to move to dialogue with each other if both parties don’t want to regret that they have been exploited to unleash the destruction of Nigeria.

No investor, local or foreign will put money in any country where its youths are in a long-drawn protest with the government. As the economic cost of the protests for the last few days continues to mount, the negative effects could be more dire than a deeper recession.

#ENDSARS does not just represent a protest against rogue Police officers; it is a symptom of the poor state of the economy, which for months has only gotten worse. Fortunately, the agitation can still be managed but time is running out.

The National Assembly also needs to introduce laws that protect young Nigerians from police brutality, status profiling and wrongful arrest. Investments in mega tech hubs across the country, establishment of recreation zones in major cities must be carried out by State Governments, to keep them engaged in activities that can better their lives.

Basheer writes from Ilorin.
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