Kudos To Nigerian Youths As #EndSARS Campaign Brought Out The Best In Them ~ By Isaac Asabor
In an ideal democratic society, the voice of the youths forms the nitty-gritty of any legislation or policy in the land. While this aspect of societal feedback is widespread in all democratic societies regardless of the degree of absolutism, it is especially true for democratic societies of the world.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient to first realize and understand what public opinion really is. The term ‘public opinion’ was coined by a philosopher, John Locke in the 17th century. However, the concept itself predates Locke as Vox populi or ‘voice of the people’ is a similar Latin concept. Gladly enough, Nigerian youths have today, October 11, demonstrated the power in their collective public opinion as they have been able to, in one voice through massive protests, said “No” to the oppression been perpetrated against them by both the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) that have since their formations been violating their “Rights to freedom of movement.
For the sake of clarity, as citizens of Nigeria, they are no doubt entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and even as citizen of Nigeria, they are not to be expelled from the country or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom. To rightly capture their collective plight, since SARS was founded in 1992 by former police commissioner, Simeon Danladi Midenda, they have been held by the jugular to the detriment of their daily social and economic activities.
Almost by each passing day, the media has been agog with gory news of the killing or rather the slaughtering of the youths in one part of the country and the other. Unfortunately, as held by an African proverb, “Even if the goat does not bite, it will bite when pushed to the wall”. Interpretatively put, Nigerian youths have been pushed to the wall, and they are now ready to bite those that wickedly see them as goats.
Without any iota of exaggeration, the foregoing proverb unexpectedly came under interpretation when #EndSARS campaign tag became a social movement that started on “Nigerian Twitter” opposing the squad, calling to end police oppression and brutality in the country. The protests started as a social media campaign using the hashtag #EndSARS to demand for Nigeria’s government to scrap and end the deployment of SARS to harass and intimidate the youths wherever they go to.
It became so overbearing when Nigerians, mostly the youths, began to share both stories and videos evidences of how members of SARS engaged in kidnapping, murder, theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrests, high-handedness, humiliation, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, and extortion.
To add insult to injury, a video that appeared on Saturday, October 3, 2020, on social media showing a team of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police allegedly shooting and killing a young man in Ughelli in Delta State triggered the youths to embark on series of protest that passionately called for the disbandment of SARS.
The massive protest which no doubt attracted a wide spectrum of the population of Nigerian youths, ostensibly did not go down well with the leadership of the Nigeria Police, and even the presidency, as its spokesmen embarked on damage control sort of public relations technique.
Ostensibly to authenticate the fact that the youths’ have the collective voice that is loud enough to influence national and even global discussions on issues that are relevant to them, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu on Sunday, October 11, 2020 dissolved the activities and operations SARS, following massive protests that rocked the nation since the last few days.
To my view, it is expedient to give kudos to the youths for their resilience and focus since the last few days as they have been able to bring SARS that has in the last couple of years allegedly accused of been engaged in kidnapping, murder, theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrests, high-handedness, humiliation, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, and extortion on its knee.
Once again, kudos to Nigerian youths! This no doubt shows that they are the generation as Bono rightly said, “This is a time for bold measures. This is the country, and you are the generation.” Without any iota of exaggeration, their agitation against oppression as been perpetrated by SARS has no doubt brought out the best in them.
Young People: Untapped Potential
As the largest demographic on the globe today, young people are a generation that will reap the benefits or suffer the consequences of the current choices made in society. It is therefore important for young people to take a leading role in policy change and development as they have the power to make a real lasting effect on the world.
At a global level young people were consulted in creating targets for the sustainable development goals (SDGs). According to Chapter 2, Section 20 of the Zimbabwean constitution, the State and all government institutions are responsible to ensure that young people between the ages of 15 to 35 have access to appropriate education and opportunities for empowerment. In 2012, the census revealed that 77 percent of the population of Zimbabwe consists of young people below the age of 35. Young people are therefore a key group for sustainable development, however, they rarely receive the education or support needed to feel confident speaking out to influence policy.”
The right to be heard for young people is just and necessary. Youth engagement in development issues still doesn’t match population statistics. When asked, young people say they feel neglected in the policy process.
Why is there a lack of youth engagement in policy making?
My observation is that young people don’t have access to information or the right support to participate in decision making. They are therefore neglected in the developmental processes that take place in their communities. Training sessions with an aim to equip young people in social accountability and awareness on civil rights are often unpopular in communities when compared to food handouts. Without financial independence and basic needs to live a fulfilled and decent life, young people won’t be in a position to take part in significant policymaking.
Young people need a change of mindset so that they realise the potential of using their voice. Young people have the power to make sustainable development a reality if they take leading role. A generation of information seekers will take us further than we can ever imagine.