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EndSARS: Beyond the Memorial

EndSARS: Beyond the Memorial

This time in 2020 as Corona Virus was ravaging nook and cranny of the world, Nigeria was not an exception. The youths of Nigeria were busy protesting and fighting another scourge of police brutality that has been with us since the time of Europeans colonialists.

The #EndSars was coined in 2017 to advocate against the arbitrary arrest, indiscriminate torture and incarceration of people without proper judicial process by rogue and dreadful units of Nigeria police force, Special Anti-robbery Squad popularly known by their acronym SARS. Never did anybody know that it could transform into a well organized movement that can be likened to a revolution which can be followed can lead to rebirth of Nigeria towards nationhood.

What started from social media spread to the streets across cities of Nigeria and diaspora, the biggest demonstration after June 12 were staged by the youths of this country. With nothing but unity of purpose and burning passion and quests for a better Nigeria, the youths shut down the nation which forced the government to order the instant disbandment of dreaded SARS unit with promise to reform the police force.

One year after the abrupt stop to the protest through the excessive use of force by the government, the pledged police reforms by government is yet to be materialized. Officers of the Nigeria Police force are still brutalising the ordinary citizens, illegal detentions are still prevalence in prisons across the nation.

Meanwhile, inspite of those unkempt promises from the government, the youths of Nigeria are still not in tunes with what to be done to correct those anomalies through electoral process. They have not shown as much interest in politics the way they did during the protest. There seems to be a misplaced priority on the part of the youths. The #EndSars demonstration which should ordinarily served as a springboard for political participation by the youths was immediately put to test some months after the end of protest.

There was a bye-election conducted by INEC for vacant Lagos East senatorial slot at the national assembly in December just 2 months after the protests, the election which if indeed the youths really need change could have serve as statement of intent and purpose through active participation, was marred by low voters turnout from the youth. Those who went out to vote are from older generations, and this leaves us with the question: Where are the youth that came out to demonstrate two months earlier?

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Just after the Lagos East bye-election, INEC instituted nationwide online voters registration. It only make sense to have thought that Nigerian youths would pioneer the process by mobilizing youths constituents for the exercise with the same organisation witnessed during#EndSars protest, but reverse was the case as my constituents are content with ranting across all social media platforms. Though there are pocket social media post about the process, but there is no deliberate and concerted strategy from youth to drive the narratives towards 2023 elections.

This is a reminder to my fellow youths that insults and criticism of the two major political parties and thrash-talking of the older generations is not and cannot be way out from this dearth of quality leadership we’re experiencing in this country. If indeed Nigerian youths so desire to take over mantles from the same old cargoes and move the nation forward, it is required of them to not only be active on social media but to be more active offline – participation in the political process, mobilization of likes-minds to effect changes they are craving for. They must endeavour to concertedly strategize to infiltrate the existing political structures and mobilize youths towards the 2023 elections, just as they did during the #EndSars protest.

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