Gains of #EndPoliceBrutality Protests ~ By Chidiebere Nwobodo
Trapped in a downward spiral of squalor and cascading pains of scorching frustrations, and debilitating despondency, Nigerian youths have finally awaken from their seemingly slumber and docility to challenge systematic injustices and oppression in the country. For more than one week now, the unwavering youths have been in the streets of Nigeria demanding an end to police brutality as represented by gruesome cum barbaric activities of defunct SARS.
Nigerian government has not only been flabbergasted by the unalloyed resolve and perseverance of the aggrieved youths, but has been scandalized in the eyes of global community as shown by the outpour of love and solidarity across the world. Nigerians in diaspora have lend their strong voice of support to this unparalleled agitation to end police brutality.
I must sincerely express my profound commendation to the Nigerian youths for this generational milestone. Posterity will remember you guys—your names have been etched in the annal of history. You guys sent jitters down the nervous spine of your oppressors. Enough is enough!
We have been able to draw the attention of the world to the decay in our policing system. We are not only asking for #EndPoliceBrutality but comprehensive reforms in the policing system that will give birth to decentralized and effective policing, that will not only be responsive in fighting cum preventing crime but citizen friendly. No single policing system headquartered in Abuja can secure every part of Nigeria—regional or state police is the way to go. Nigerian Police must be unbundled to serve yearnings of every region according to its peculiarities.
Improved police welfare is also part of the demand. Fundamental rights of the Nigerians should not be sacrificed at the altar of fighting criminality. Those paid with taxpayers money to protect us, should not become our nightmares. Nigerian Police has become cesspool of corruption and has assisted, albeit regrettably, in projecting the country as one of the most corrupt in the world. We can’t be operating killing squad in the guise of police. Nigerian Police is still that of 19th century in a 21st century world, where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the main instrument of policing.
Beyond demanding for police reforms, Nigerian youths have achieved something striking and important at the course of this movement—the yoke of docility has been broken. The culture of protest that left Nigeria in 2015, is back in full force. Political reawakening is on the rise. The hitherto “lazy youths” have proved otherwise. The most dreaded weapon our oppressive rulers and pilfering potentates used to weaken cum divide us—ethno-religious sentiments, have been diffused—at least to barest minimum.
The much-needed southern solidarity have been strengthened. Since I became politically conscious, I have never seen southerners, especially the youths speak with one voice like this. It is not only amazing but miraculous. Every strata of southern Nigeria—most importantly the entertainment industry that usually pay lackadaisical attention to political developments in the polity, became the purveyors of the movement. This is historic! not even 2012 fuel subsidy protests lasted this long with palpable force.
Majority of the youths who are part of this movement, are actually participating in protests for the first time. It is not only a paradigm shift but generational rebirth. For the fact that these protests have no known leadership, makes it more forceful and impregnable. Those who are benefiting from the rogue and skewed system have been finding it difficult to break the movement—they don’t know who exactly to “negotiate” with.
The peaceful nature and organizational skills of the protesters are quite exceptional. Even the hired hoodlums have not been finding it easy to carry out their heinous acts of disrupting the movement. I can say categorically that even if the protests end today, Nigerian youths have made a resounding statement that reverberated across the world. Their voices have been heard clearly.
We have reaffirmed again that true sovereignty belongs to the people—not those in government. Those in offices are called public and civil SERVANTS because they were meant to SERVE us not the other way round. Never again shall we become slaves to our elected officials. Never again shall we watch helplessly while our common wealth is being devoured by kleptomaniacs in corridors of power. Never again shall we watch old generation decide our future without our inputs as critical stakeholders in the affairs of this nation. It is youth O’clock.
The bone of the contention and grand problem of today’s Nigeria, is military-written 1999 Constitution that made Nigerians slaves to those in power. Very soon, Nigerian youths will come for total abolition of that piece of hegemonic document that have become a drag on the nation’s progress. 1999 Constitution must give away for a constitution that will not only be people’s oriented but derive from the populace it is made to govern. We are sick and tired of series of amendments that have not yielded any appreciable results.