…say protests not only about police reforms
By Appolos Christian
Ex-militants under the aegis of Supreme Council of Niger Delta Avengers (SCONDA) have condemned the shootings at Lekki toll gate that claimed the lives of some protesters Tuesday night in Lagos, describing the incident as senseless.
In a press release signed by the leaders of the coalition which included John Duku and 12 others, the avengers said that protests were not essentially about the disbandment of Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, a unit of the Nigerian Police but a direct response to other social ills.
They also throw their weight behind the protests which had gone on for two weeks now.
“We are in full support of the current nationwide protests spearheaded by the teeming youths of this nation. That the protests are not merely in respect of the rampant cases of police brutality against Nigerians, but are a direct response to the heinous crimes and human rights abuses committed by the government and its agents, the high rate of inflation, unemployment, insecurity, poverty, hunger, injustice, killings, banditry, lopsided/selective political and public service appointments based on tribal sentiments, religion and party loyalty, increased fuel prices, increased electricity tariffs under the COVID-19 hardships, etc. by the government of President Buhari.
“We condemn government’s use of the military, and sponsorship of hoodlums, fulani herdsmen, and armed thugs to clamp down on the harmless and weaponless protesters who are fighting to safeguard the fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens as well as demand for a better governance. The senseless killings of innocent Nigerians in Lagos, Edo state, and various parts of Abuja and burning / destruction of property in different parts of the country is evil.
“We are very convinced that the following demands made by the youths are very legitimate and if met, would lift the nation to the next level of progress and development: (i)End SARS. (ii) Sack security chiefs. (iii) Improve security. (iv) Full deregulation of the oil and gas sector to allow more investments for job creation. (v) Immediate passage of PIB. (vi) Full deregulation of the power sector to allow investment capital flow to generate, transmit and distribute more power and create jobs.
“(vii) Should hands-off petroleum pricing to enable free-market determination of pricing. (viii) Close our northern borders to stop the free entry of Fulani herdsmen and bandits. (ix) Inclusive government for all tribes and regions of Nigeria with 50 percent youths in charge of governance. (x) Allocate more funds to the education sector to provide better teaching tools and to pay better salaries to end ASUU strikes. (xi) Change our academic curriculum to reflect modern-day realities. (xii) All politicians should be placed on minimum wage to attract genuine public servants.
“(xiii) Migrate to 100 per cent electoral reforms with electronic voting tied to our BVN and GSM. (xiv) Return Nigeria to regional governance structure or restructure the country and embrace true federalism. States autonomy must be paramount. (xv) Disband the bi-cameral legislature and adopt uni-cameral. (xvi) Immediately reform Nigeria Police Force and let every state or region create its own police service. (xvii) No more budget for running private affairs of elected and appointed public servants.
“(xviii) Enthrone university education as a minimum qualification for public office holders at all levels of government from the president to local government and ward chairpersons. (xix) Strip ex-governors and all elected and appointed public servants of all benefits after office. (xx) Increase salaries of our doctors, nurses, teachers, police, military officers, and civil servants. (xxi) Government should hands-off ownership and management of businesses at all levels. (xxii) Name and shame looters and make criminal offenders, and looters face trial in their home states and villages to shame them and their families.
“(xxiii) Stop foreign medical trips for public servants. Let them be treated here in Nigeria. When last did you hear an American President or a British Prime Minister visit Nigeria for medical tourism?
“These are demands that a good and transparent government should strive to meet to make the country better. Government must also take necessary steps to implement all the genuine demands of the youths as soon as possible. Government should set up a special fund to compensate the families who lost their dear ones during the protests. It should also take care of the medical expenses of all those who were injured during the fracas.”
The ex-militants also reiterated their demands for resource control and the structuring of the country.
“On our part, we hereby re-echo our demand for Resource Control as part of the restructuring of Nigeria which must be implemented as soon as possible. This will accord each state or geo-political zone the right to own and control its natural resources, same way as Zamfara is controlling its gold, and Bitumen is owned and controlled by other states in the northern part of Nigeria, and will reverse the present ugly trend where ‘monkey dey work, but baboon dey chop’ in the country.
“We, therefore, demand 100% percent control of our resources. Similarly, we demand that the Federal Government should hand over all oil blocks in the niger delta region to the rightful owners – Niger Delta indigenes. All licenses of oil blocks/wells held by non-indigenes of the region must be revoked with immediate effect”.