#ENDSARS: Sitting on a tinder box

Whether anyone believes or not, things are abnormal in Nigeria at the moment. The hitherto seemingly docile youths are holding their fate in their hands. They have taken to street protests to vent their anger over bad governance in the country. They are tired of sitting by watching as our political leaders plunder our common patrimony, cornering everything to themselves and their children.

The youth are saying: “enough is enough” and that all those old fanciful talks no longer appeal to them. They have decided to say no to unbridled corruption in the polity. They have decided to say no to their continued domination by elderly men and women who have refused to leave the political space, even though their knowledge, ideology and beliefs have since expired. They have decided to say no brutal security system that for long, have been snuffing life out of our youth and citizens with reckless impunity, yet never called to account. They have decided to reject an obviously corrupt judicial system, made worse by a warped criminal justice system and recruitment system that is terribly corrupt.

The Nigerian youth in the past two weeks, have been on the streets. They have occupied the streets, refusing to sleep in rooms provided by their parents, most of who, for over 40 years, have remained tied to the apron string of their parents. They have decided to take their fate in their hands.

Yet, as the storms gather, our political leaders see nothing ominous about it. A people once described as the ‘happiest people on earth’ due to their tendency to endure all forms of self-inflicted hardship, have woken from slumber. The Nigerian populace witnessed corruption walking on all fours. The Nigerian populace witness unbridled impunity by the political leaders. The Nigerian populace witness all forms of subjugation by a clique holding the common treasury on trust for the entire citizens, yet lining their pockets at every turn. The youth continuously witness their economy stolen, taken abroad and stashed away, under phony names by successive but wicked leaders. They witness an electoral system that breeds violence and manipulation. They witness the obfuscation of political party systems by a cabal of extremely wicked few, who frustrate every transparent process which made us never made any meaningful progress since our independence in 1960.

Efforts to make things work collapsed like pack of cards while the leadership pretended to be confused. As usual, they believe that public tenacity will vanish; but they are mistaken. With what happened in past twelve days, even a pupil scholar on political dynamics knows that the status quo is seriously under threat, and may capitulate. And it behooves on our political leadership face reality and wake up from illusion.

With more than five Judicial or Presidential Panel reports on Police Reforms gathering dust, it is obvious that those who are coordinating the #ENDSARS protests won’t let go so soon.

It is important to state that from 2006, through 2008, 2012 and few months ago, there have been reports, detailing the atrocities perpetrated by the Nigeria Police. All the reports point in one direction: decentralize the police, bring in better funding in the police, improve the welfare of policemen and halt all interferences by politicians during police recruitments.

Past Presidential Panel on Police Reforms headed by the premier indigenous Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Dikko Yusuf in 2008 submitted what could be said to be the locus classicus on police reforms. It is instructive to note that the Yusuf’s committee after analyzing the recruitment of about 40,000 police personnel that year, passed a vote of no confidence on the process, describing it as “the recruitment of the dregs of the society, social misfits and never do wells” into the police.

The committee expressed shock at the type of police system those recruits would lead when they become top officers of the Force. Unfortunately, the recommendations did not make desired impact. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who empanelled the committee unfortunately lacked the courage to implement even a single sentence of the recommendations.

It is instructive to mention that internal squabble and indiscipline by successive IGPs who, up till now, have resisted efforts to subject the police to the control of the Police Service Commission (PSC), according to Law, is a major problem of our police.

For instance, the current PSC Chairman, Musliu Smith, who is facing an uphill from a subordinate IGP Mohammed Adamu, gave Chief Simon Okeke serious headache, when Okeke was Chairman of the PSC and Smith was IGP. Smith not just insulted Okeke and the PSC, but proved to him that the barrel of the gun is the ultimate decider, unfortunately. When he got his dose of disrespect from incumbent IGP Mohammed, people read the imbroglio as law of karma at work. And the society suffer display of arrogance.

When the police reportedly murdered Nigeria’s US-based international athlete, Dele Udo in cold blood in Lagos, or Ijeoma Udebuani, then student of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC) on October 1992, while returning from a pre-independence party with his friends, or the killing of eight Okoba family members on 1st November, 1991 in their home in Etche, Rivers State, or the killing of several youths of the South-East origin under the guise of Operation Crocodile Smile and flushed their dead bodies on the Ezu river in Anambra State, or he shooting of no less than 50 persons in several parts of the country under the guise of enforcing Covid-19 protocol rules, it showed how callous our security operatives have been.

All these do not compare with what the disbanded SARS offices nationwide notoriously became: home for impunity, murder, extortion and wickedness. SARS operatives have exhibited all manner of lawlessness against the citizenry, especially the youth. They have mowed down several youths simply due to their hair style, the type of clothes they wear, being in possession of I-phone or computers, irrespective of whether their victim was a student of computer science or not.

And they became so powerful that successive IGP’s couldn’t disban them. For instance, in 2017, then IGP had ordered immediate re-integration of SARS to regular police with immediate effect, but it failed. In 2018, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo ordered immediate overhaul of the SARS; it failed. In 2019, IGP Adamu ordered the immediate disbandment of SARS, Special Investigation Panel (SIP) and Special Tactical Squad. These two are another Gestapo units in the police. Adamu failed to do so. And just two weeks ago, he announced on a live broadcast, the dissolution of SARS and created what he called SWAT, an old police outfit that used to take dogs about and dress in a mode that their knees, ankle, and vital organs are protected with dark pad. That’s why the citizens are protesting that he is clever by half, in putting an old wine in new wine skin.

With the eruption of protests in parts of the country, not minding that northern governors stood behind SARS and their impunity, the youth have shown that they are capable of taking their destiny in their hands. And they have proved that neither religion, nor tribe, colour, status, etc are barriers as allegedly being portrayed by the nation’s leaders. These people answered the clarion call, share their pains, serve refreshment to everyone, including security operatives in one united voice mand.

The AUTHORITY appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately take concrete actions to address the issues being canvassed by the rampaging youths. Allowing our police operate like the 1861 Colonial Masters Police or with the mindset of the 1967 Police Act, remains preposterous and will not work. The police needs immediate reforms, just like the entire polity.

Events in the past two weeks which forced our national economy suffer glitches, have tumbled lives. Several people were killed, property lost, yet the youth remain unrelenting. The protesting youths are being pushed by the need to extricate themselves from the stranglehold of hegemonic, despotic grand-papa political leadership; leadership that promotes mediocrity, nepotism and suppresses industry. Asking the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed or the Chief of Service Staff to cow down the rampaging youths is not likely to work. If we don’t resolve their grievances methodically, we shall be heading to the tinder box which will spell doom for our dear country, Nigeria.

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