We all know that days like these will creep on us like a SARS officer in search of Yahoo Boys. We know that days when Nigerian youth will take their destinies in their hands and demand for a better country will come. Days when the Nigerian youth will scream in unison that they are indeed tired of the terrible conditions they are been subjected to. Days when the government will be forced to listen to them under the intense heat of a strong movement. Nigeria, her leaders, and the older generation were deaf to this prophecy.
In less than ten days, the young people in Nigeria, have moved from just calling the attention of the world to the brutality they experience in the hands of the police on social media, to taking their anger to the street to send a strong message to their leaders and the leadership of the Nigerian Police Force. With massive protests breaking out in major cities of the country, young people are speaking louder for all to hear of their plight.
Nigerian youth are known to be one of the most dogged sets of people in the world. Known to be industrious, hardworking, focus, and defiant, but the world sees us for a quarter or opposite of who we are. How do we balance the fact that Nigerians flourish all over the world, outside their country in their various endeavour, but are reduced to nuisance in their own country.
Over the Years, Nigerians have cried out it the leadership of the country to help curb the excesses of the Nigeria Police Force, especially those of its tactical team, The Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Young Nigerians screamed to the top of their voices like choking children, but as usual, Nigeria played deaf. But for the power of social media, the world is forced to listen.
It is a fact that the cry for the disbandment of SARS and the reform of the Nigerian Police Force has become a yearly plea. The leadership of the police has declared the disbandment of the tactical unit countless times, but these declarations have only been executed on paper.
At least two out of 4 Nigerian young people have had terrifying and unpalatable experiences with the Nigerian Police. They probably are victims or witnesses to the unspeakable crimes the operatives in the force, especially SARS operatives, have committed over the years. I have personally witnessed and heard a lot of scary stories.
The officers in the unit are notorious. They have been accused of murder, maiming, kidnapping, harassment, extortion, rape, robbery, torture, and all other forms of human rights abuses, too unspeakable to tell. If we, indeed live in a country where justice prevails, 80 percent of those in this unit would have lost their jobs or be behind bars.
What were asking for is simple; a police force that is not corrupt, one that wouldn’t profile you for owning a laptop, an iPhone, for wearing a tattoo on or a dreadlock. Police operatives that wouldn’t kidnap you, threaten you, or even rob you of your earnings. Is this too much to ask? It’s it high time President Muhammadu Buhari attended to all the requests of the youth as a father would attend to his child who is been bullied in school. Nigerian Youth deserves to be heard.
The fact remains that the issue with the evil perpetrated by SARS operatives is just a symptom and not the disease. A lot is wrong with the Nigerian system, particularly with the Justice system. There are cracks that allow for all forms of lawlessness and crimes committed by SARS to go unabated. The justice system is ineffective and enabled for the highest bidder. If reform in the police is expected to be effective, the justice system also must be looked into.
While we celebrate the recent disbandment of SARS by the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Amadu, let only regard it as a win in a battle, the war is still ahead of us. Let’s remember that at least 10 people, including an innocent bystander, Jimoh Isiaka, were gunned down by the police in Ogbomosho over the weekend. We must acknowledge that these abuses will not stop even with the disbandment of the unit because the same operatives will be redrafted to other units and formations with the same orientation and attitude. The reform should go beyond the end of SARS, but to the reform and reorientation of every single police officer.
We must give three Gbosas to every Nigerian youth who are lending their voices to end police brutality. Especially to those who refuse to let the fears and intimidations of the older generation prevent them from voicing their displeasure. The same generation whose action and inactions have brought the country to its knees. Young people are now looking beyond the religious, political, and tribalistic sentiments placed before them by their parents.
This is just the beginning of an even bigger movement for a better Nigeria and a better future for young people. We must not fail to build on the dividend of this movement by speaking out on other issues that directly and indirectly affect us. This demands must culminate into demands for a better health care system, a prosperous economy, a befitting educational system, and a nation for all to strive and flourish, without fear or favour.
This development will lead to a lot of wins, but these wins will not lead to the ideal change that we seek if we do not go into the 2023 elections with the same energy. let’s send a message to politicians that we are done being taken for fools. Not business as usual. The election should mark the beginning of the revolution we need as a nation. Our preparedness for the democratic process will make Nigeria and its leaders listen.