End Sars Protests — There Should be Less Regrets and More Momentum
The past 2-weeks have been an overwhelming experience for most young Nigerians who sought to bring an end to police brutality, through the #ENDSARS movement. The climax of their seething emotions eclipsed on Tuesday, October 20, at the Lekki toll gate Lagos, Nigeria where ‘affirmation gatherings’ of the movement had held.
A lot of people watched through a livestream on IG in dismay, and helplessly as the Nigerian army opened fire on peaceful young protesters. These protesters had held onto the Nigerian dream through its flag while singing the national anthem.
Nigerians were not over the shock and horror when the president, Mohammadu Buhari, took to Twitter to threaten and rubbish the gains made by the End Sars movement. And his veiled threats in a democracy were clear, deflating the hopes of millions of Nigerian youths who had taken to the streets hoping for an end to police brutality.
The sudden realization that our clamor for justice has been met with brute, has left many hopeless. Worse is the regret that has followed, due to the loss of lives and properties after the movement was hijacked by state-sponsored thugs. Some people have called the government’s reaction to our protests with our current feelings a ‘right of passage’ into what it means to be Nigerian. A similar experience foisted on our parents’ generation which pushed them into being mum, submissiveness and servitude.
But I still maintain that we are a different generation, and this protest should not be filled with many regrets but about the possibilities of who we are. People have taken to Twitter to amplify the moments every Nigerian youth should hold dear. The moments of togetherness, oneness of purpose and the zeal to do the right thing while creating a functional system that worked towards shared prosperity.
The movement also exposed the need to get the right people to power by educating ourselves about our civic responsibility. There were clear signs of states whose governors have shown leadership in tumultuous times like this. For example, Oyo State, where Seyi Makinde refused barbarian force against peaceful protesters and quelled a situation that would have escalated to a blood bath. The Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwolu, was the opposite of redemption, allowing politics to override the will of the people and that led to the death of scores.
A lot of “what next,” questions have been asked, since the announcement by the Federal government banning all forms of street protests. Although I do not have the answers to that, I do hope there are fewer regrets with what happened through the EndSars movement. The platform created an opportunity for youths to vent about their lack of trust in a system meant to protect them, and amplify their voices through legitimate means and channels.
There are gains from this unplanned movement, and we were able to pull together resources for our collective good. There is a need to strategize, build on the already amplified momentum and make progress.
Now that we have witnessed the rot, we have a collective responsibility to fix the system from the ground up. By becoming our brother’s keeper, educating on civic responsibility, feeding the hungry, and a collective responsibility to vote.
Through this movement, we have been called to act, amplify, and amend. A clarion call for a new generation that shouldn’t inherit this mess.