New Telegraph

The history behind #EndSARS protest

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves” – Edward. R. Murrow



The on-going youth uprising in the country #EndSARS has a history, it didn’t just erupt from the moon, this fact we must know to be able to intellectualize the situation properly. Something led to something before we arrived here.


In Nigeria especially among security operatives when crime or any untoward thing occurs in an environment, the first instinct is to finger everybody around as responsible with the hope that after sifting, the real culprit will emerge.


But for Nigeria Police as mirrored by a notorious unit called SARS, anybody around the scene will be arrested and will first go in for it, those buoyant enough even if they were the real offenders will pay and secure their freedom but those unable to pay their way even if they are innocent, will be ‘wasted’, that’s the popular jargon for extra-judicial killings in the SARS circle.



Human lives is of inconsequential value in their setting. When President Muhammadu Buhari recently publicly asked the nation’s service chiefs where they think the Boko Haram terrorists were getting their arms from, the Commander-in-Chief was merely expressing his surprise at the continuous weaponry and security threats of these rag tag men with no formal warfare training to a well-structured military of the nation.

As President, Buhari in his five-year reign must have gotten multiple intelligence as to the source of funding and weaponry of the insurgents and how to curb it and none appears to have worked, hence the huge question. Ditto the on-going civil unrest across the country, #EndSARS, #Endpolicebrutality. The question being asked at various government circles is who are those behind #EndSARS?


As usual many of the official and unofficial intelligence sources have been fingering those they believe are behind the rebellion. Perhaps government could only tell about the origin of the hired pro-SARS protesters whose mission was to multiply the confusion and create violence to open the way for troops to come in ostensibly with their crocodile smiles.

But they appear to know nothing about those behind the #EndSARS protesters either the organizers or financiers. Except for the sarcastic accusation from the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), for being by implication responsible for the protests as their refusal to return to class left their students vulnerable for hire for the protests.


There was also reportedly a curious fingering of the indomitable APC leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu by one Prof. Alexander Adebisi of the University of Ibadan which has also been profusely denied by the Jagaban through Tunde Rahman his spokesman. All other suggested causes have remained in the realm of guess work.

But truth remains that what is responsible for this #EndSARS is well known to all and the factors that caused it are all very familiar. I remember alarming Nigerians in this column more than umpteenth times that what I saw in Northern Nigeria during the 2019 electioneering of the youth hopelessness is a time bomb awaiting detonation.


I also remarked when Federal Government operatives were harassing Omoyele Sowere for declaring his #RevolutionNow that when real revolt will come, it will be an organic body characterized by natural development, it would have no leader, the common denominator at the time will be stomach challenge, if you like call it hunger, but it would not be guided by either tribe or religion, region or sex.


I don’t know the kind of intelligence report being filled to the President on the #EndSARS protest but any report blaming imaginary enemies should be disregarded. Youth anger is what Nigeria is witnessing, any nation that provokes her youths to turn against her has very serious issues with its future. The number one person whose actions and inactions possibly laid the grounds for this aggravation situation we find ourselves today is President Muhammadu Buhari himself.


He failed woefully to take actions as a maximum leader that would have prevented today. President Buhari should not be shocked at the anger of the youth on him and his government because he ab nitio has never shown any admiration for this generation. First detection of the President’s mindset on Nigeria youths was barely one year into his reign in 2016, when he told an international medium, the UK Telegraph during an interview that Nigerian youths are disposed to criminality and should be denied asylum.


In 2018 three years into his first term, President Buhari again at a Commonwealth Business Forum described Nigerian youths as hustlers and lazy lots who want good things free because their country produces oil. Earlier before these expressions he had constituted his cabinet that clearly excluded youths not minding that they were the dominant chunk of the voting population.


Since then despite the earlier protest against the President’s disdain on Nigeria youths, nothing has changed fundamentally in their favour from his government. Even the famous takalawa group of youths in the North known for their fanaticism of Buhari were not accommodated in any way in the government’s programmes.


That was the foundation of the neglect of Nigerian youths whose anger and frustration accumulated to the point where we are today in our land. Therefore, all that was needed for Police or SARS, Army or DSS or anybody serving the public to respect or disrespect the youth of the country was to see the amount of value placed on them by their President. How has the President responded to the endless bloodletting of the Nigerian youths either by criminals, terrorists, bandits or the law enforcement agencies?

Under this government how many if any of the gun trothing, trigger happy operatives have been punished as demanded by law to send a message to those of their ilk planning to do same.

So, in searching for who is behind the on-going unrest, let us not go far but look inwards. In pointing one fingers at perceived enemies, let us look well at the number of fingers directing at us the government and the elites at large. Nobody should try to take credit for helping to organize this #EndSARS protest, it is a leaderless revolt, that is why it’s succeeding, the government does not know who to approach to induce or intimidate as the case may be.


They were able to frustrate the labourinduced strike because they had leaders who had other pecuniary interests. In this instance, they are all leaders with common focus and common mission. Some persons might have jumped into the fray trying to make contributions or give some creative thinking to the project but they are certainly not the originators.


It’s necessary at this juncture to warn that the government might injure itself in this uprising if they fail to have some creativity in their approach to it.


Trying to deal with it the old mechanical way of using brute force might just exacerbate and impair the situation and take it where it was not originally envisaged as the wicked Lekki tollgate massacre on Tuesday night has shown.


Deploying an Army whose leadership is suffering credibility issues already bordering on competence and who the people believe has long over stayed his welcome can be unwise.


An Army that the nation’s parliament has asked that it’s leader be sacked for poor performance and untimely response to security challenges of the country, being used against popular revolt, might be counterproductive and dangerous. It would be disingenuous and misleading of us in this country therefore to say that we did not see this coming. This was long in coming as our challenges in the country already met all the requirements needed to activate a revolt.


This uprising has a history. What was holding it all these while was the docility of our people which appears to have been overstretched now and the lid taken off our eyes.


The injustice in the land has been so glaring, the class segregation has been brazing, the looting of the common wealth of the people by an insignificant few has been inundating and highly provocative, hence the inevitable arrival to this discomforting destination. A good government must have the ability to see far.


If a regime is unable to see far about the danger arising from the prolonged neglect of our youths, why should they be surprised at the happenings, did the fetcher of ant-infested firewood not know that lizard will honour the invitation and come calling? God help us.

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