OrderPaperToday – House of Representatives member, Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP, Kogi) has said now is the time for dialogue as a means to end the huge collective losses caused from the hijacked #EndSARS protest.
He made his stance known in a statement on Friday.
According to Yusuf, “long years of official insensitivity, lack of effective response to loud complaints against SARS three years ago and persistent scepticism about government’s promises” are some of the factors that fuelled the prevailing violence.
He said: “Without effective dialogue and a timely resolution of the recent face-off that started as ‘ENDSARS’ protest, Nigeria’s political elites and protesting youth stand the risk of huge collective losses.
“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,” he stated while noting the lingering distrust for government.
“SARS started as a solution to the problem of armed robbery but unfortunately, it became a problem to citizens who sometimes allege that ex-robbers and criminal extortionists may have become part of the defunct SARS; members of SARS were mostly southerners but they caused inexplicable traumas in the south.
“Accumulated anger is being reflected in the rage we’ve seen, three years ago, loud protestations against SARS’ excesses were handled the same way we handle every other issue haphazardly with few long-term considerations.
“Our youth do not trust 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.”
While calling on the government to intervene, he noted that revolutions all over the world began with “seemingly innocuous incidents but before anyone realizes it, things spiral out of hands; the French revolution began with mere complaints over the price of bread, the Arab spring was sparked off by one man’s self-immolation in 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.”
He noted that the immediate disbandment of SARS and announcement of SARS without input from protesters made the youth assume the government was “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.”
For him, although the current challenges have accumulated over the years,” the weight and intensity have been fast-racked under the APC administration which promised our youths millions of job but instead, institutes policies that have ensured loss of jobs, disincentives for foreign investors and the scaling down of operations by corporate bodies.”
The federal lawmaker described the drafting of the army to break the peaceful protest which consequently led to loss of lives and properties as “not only highly condemnable but shocking and outrightly unfortunate.”
“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.
“As it is, considering the massive destruction of properties and painful loss of innocent lives, it is absolutely necessary for government to ensure that justice is done where and where appropriate, as well as compensate victims,” Yusuf added.