For two weeks now the Nigerian nation appears to be under siege following the widespread national protest by Nigerian youths protesting the ill treatment the Nigeria police has meted to the citizens through its Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS. Although the government reacted promptly to the numerous complaints by banning the group, yet various protests action still engulfs the nation.
The unpleasant fall out of the actions which registered in some parts of the country include further loss of lives of protesters, the attack on Gov Oyetola of Osun state and his deputy, the attack on Benin Prison freeing the inmates among other issues. The federal government has since admitted their inadequacies on the matter which was affirmed with an apology by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
But it would appear that the youths would not have any of it. They have since come with more requests agitating for good governance and an end to the numerous irregularities that characterize the Nigerian nation as at present. Outside global football contests during which Nigerians irrespective of tongues gather to cheer up the Nigerian team, at no time has Nigerian youths been so united to speak and act with one voice. It is unprecedented.
It is pertinent to observe that while the demonstrators are populated more by the youths the action have received widespread acceptance by other groups including the religious ones. While the protests in the South of Nigeria is focus on police brutality and wanton killings that of the North has been anchored on eliminating insecurity orchestrated by Boko Haram, bandits, cattle rustlers etc. It all boils down seemingly to the same issue.
Examining the events as they unfold one is tempted to ask how we got to this sorry pass. There is no doubt that the SARS protest is an expression of long accumulated displeasure over bad governance inflicted on the citizenry. There is so much lawlessness, executive recklessness, corruption in high places, high level suffering, cluelessness of public officials, and gross mismanagement of scarce public resources.
All of these have boiled over to spill out as protests now. It is sad to remark that while there are successive changes of administration things have continued to move from bad to worst. It is painful to remark that no government has fared better than the one it succeeded since independence. While the nation has grown more revenues and even with the abundance of resources in the land the fortunes of the masses keep taking a nosedive.
It is clear the leadership have lost it especially is setting up priorities. Take an example. While the public is groaning under the weight of poor infrastructure, lack of hospital equipment, lack of school equipment, etc the national assembly has budgeted over 27bn just to renovate the national assembly building.
The youths have been able to gather themselves to protest because they are idle, unemployed and have seen resources frittered and carted away. Nigeria is a country being scrambled away by its leaders. Nobody is sparing a thought over what happens tomorrow. If the past leaders had spared a thought on how to make today better, we will not be in this mess. The police operatives are creating the mayhem are also victims of bad governance. They are only taking advantage of their privileged position to better their lot. Besides, while the rot deepens does not seem anybody has answer to anything.
News Echo enjoins the government to exercise caution in handling the crisis. The protest should take the leaders at all levels back to the drawing board to review their actions sincerely in order to reverse it wherever they have come short. The numerous agitations for restructuring and splitting of the nations into independent countries are further protests that everything is not right with our leadership.
To avoid further senseless killing arising from needless agitation we urge the government to rise boldly to confront the challenge heeding to the voice of the people in humility. There is no gain pretending in the unity of the country which is at variance with the actions of the leaders. It would be better to have a strong, united, resourceful, happy nation but where we cannot weld ourselves together, we should in all honesty find our different ways.
There is no gain too limiting ourselves from actualizing our creativity and abundant resources bestowed on us by nature. There is no better time to resolve this lingering issue than now. We can do better than we have done.