The member representing Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Yusuf has called for an effective dialogue and a quick intervention, saying that, Nigeria’s political elites and the protesting youths as well, would collectively be doomed, if nothing was done to control the situation immediately.
In a statement issued in Abuja, the lawmaker condemned in strong terms, the drafting of the army to break Nigerian youths’ peaceful protest which resulted in heavy casualties.
A former student activist and a Peoples Democratic Party lawmaker, Yusuf, noted that long years of official insensitivity, lack of effective response to loud complaints against SARS three years ago, and persistent skepticism about government’s promises are among factors that triggered the current face-off.
“If this crisis festers and becomes something else, no political elite should feel safe because not all would be able to escape the chaotic situation, even with private jets; if things worsen too dangerously, youth may get drafted into violent conflicts they never planned for and the old and the young, as well as children, women and all stakeholders in Nigeria, may face the worst time of our lives.
“Even the two World wars ended at the negotiating table; the best that we can all do now is to pull back from the brink, have frank dialogue, and demand the institution of lasting corrective measures that may become part of our constitutional reforms.”
According to him, SARS was originally meant to tackle armed robbery menace but became a challenge to the citizens at a point that Nigerians prefer armed robbers than containing the evil of SARS operatives, adding that members of SARS were mostly southerners who caused inexplicable traumas in the south.
He continued: “Accumulated anger is being reflected in the rage we’ve seen, three years ago, loud protests against SARS’ excesses were handled the same way we handle every other issue haphazardly with few long-term considerations.
“Our youths do not trust the government because the spate of panels and half-measures as reflected in ineffective official reactions to ASUU strikes that started around 1991 show that we prioritize the wrong things and for higher education, things got so bad that our children got more used to the idea of going to Ghana, Cotonou and other places for higher education.
“I am warning all of us because all over the world, revolutions begin with seemingly innocuous incidents but before anyone realizes it, things spiral out of hands; the French Revolution began with mere complaints about the price of bread, the Arab Spring was sparked off by one man’s self-immolation in reaction to injustice.
“We must all be cautious too because revolutions always have extreme consequences, including positive and negative ones if things are not well managed; a revolution forces changes to happen but it swallows many in the population too.
“As for the complaints against police and SARS’ excesses, if a responsible government agrees that what was happening was not good, it takes action immediately and takes inputs from complaining citizens before doing a review but in our own case, the police just announced the disbandment of SARS and next day, it announced SWAT as a replacement.
“So, the youth assumed that government is playing the usual cards of symbolic tokenism and motion without movement or ‘audio promises’ that have become a special directive principle under the APC administration which still blames others and fumbles around unrealized promises they made since 2014.
“All these problems have accumulated over the years but the weight and intensity have been fast-tracked under the APC administration which promised our youths millions of job but instead, institutes policies that have ensured the loss of jobs, disincentives for foreign investors and the scaling down of operations by corporate bodies.
“I still emphasize that brutal force or mean aggression can never win in the current situation and there must be proper explanations and compensations too.”