The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has said there is no one who is committed to the rule of law and good governance that would be opposed to the ongoing #EndSARS protests by the Nigerian youths.
Tinubu, in a statement on Monday, said the protests, which had gone on for 12 days, were justified, given gross human rights violations and impunity by the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force.
He also commended Nigerian youths for the level of organisation that went into the protests, saying it showed a new level of consciousness that could strengthen Nigeria’s democracy.
He said the ongoing resistance by the youths against police brutality was reminiscent of the emancipation struggle against the colonial rule and military dictatorship, which gave birth to democracy.
However, Tinubu said the protesters must admit that the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari had “acted with commendable dispatch by not only scrapping SARS but also accepting the five-point demand that triggered the protests.”
He said it would only be fair for the youths to call off the protests and give the regime a chance to implement the reforms they had demanded.
Tinubu’s statement on the protest, which he personally signed, was titled, ‘#EndSARS protests – The remedy for national maladies is more, not less, democracy’.
He said, “It is impossible for anyone truly committed to the rule of law, democracy and good governance to be opposed to the concern and demands of the protesters. There is no way that any society can make meaningful progress without the enthronement of these values.
“The protesters have, for the better part of the commencement of their civil action, conducted themselves with an admirable sense of responsibility, restraint and maturity. This is commendable. Indeed, the high level of organisation demonstrated by the protesting youths shows a new level of consciousness of the capability of a vigilant civil society as well as the efficacy of people’s power. This can only ultimately strengthen the country’s democratic evolution and sustainability.”
While urging the protesters to withdraw, Tinubu said Buhari had showed “a laudable sensitivity to the grievances of the youths.”
He said, “It is only fair that government must be given the chance to implement the reforms demanded by the protesters. This can certainly not be done instantaneously by the waving of a magic wand. If government had not implemented promised reforms in the past, the swiftness with which it has responded to the demands of the protesters this time around shows that that there is a positive change by government both of attitude and of a new sense of urgency.”
Tinubu urged the youths to be careful not to fritter away the considerable gains they had made within a very short period with “lack of moderation and strategic thinking”.
He said it was unfortunate that hoodlums, thugs and assorted criminals had begun to take advantage of the protests to perpetrate violence and disrupt civil life.
He said he believed the intention of the organisers of the protest was not to “cause generalised anarchy or effect regime change.”
Tinubu warned the youths that if they gave the impression that their intention was to effect a change of regime “then any government will necessarily have to act with the requisite decisiveness and force to restore law and order and preserve constitutional rule.”
However, he said the ruling APC must see the protest as “an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and recommit itself to the values for which the party was formed through extraordinary hard work, dedication and commitment.”