•Lack of trust in govt responsible for prolonged protests –Aisha Yesufu
As the mass protests and clamour for diverse reforms by young Nigerians enter the 12th day, a leader of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, has ruled out the possibility of the current uprising becoming a revolution in the country.
Yakassai, a founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and former Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters during the Second Republic, said that contrary to the postulations in certain quarters, Nigerians were not about to witness a re-enactment of the Arab Spring or any form of revolution. He argued that whereas there were three essential conditions precedent to any genuine revolution, none of those conditions are present in the current protest in Nigeria.
“A revolution must have a philosophy and an ideology which is presented to the masses and the masses must accept it as their own or something that will be to their own benefit. Secondly, there must be a political party which will serve as the platform for the revolution.
Thirdly, the political party must have a revolutionary leadership. It must be a leadership that is committed to the cause of the political party which must also be connected to the cause of the ordinary masses.
“These three elements are essential for a revolution to succeed, otherwise you will just have spontaneous revolution where they kill people, they burn houses and so on, but nothing changes.
This was what happened during the Arab Spring. What has changed after the Arab Spring? Did anything change for the better? So unguarded revolution is dangerous and could become counter-productive,” he said. Yakassai described the current protests as an elitist venture which has a disconnect with the large majority of grassroots Nigerians who live in the rural areas.
He said that a revolution that will succeed must carry along these rural folks. He admitted that the young people have got grievances that needed to be addressed by the government and the government of the day must rise to the occasion by addressing the concerns of the people. He said that given the nature of those in power, the protesters might end up extracting a few concessions but nothing significantly different will change in the society.
The elder statesman attributed the prolonged protests on mass unemployment among the youths. He said the greater number of those on the streets were either undergraduates whose schools have been shut down due to strike or graduates who have no jobs and are tired of remaining idle at home. “Let them listen to the people because they came to power with a lot of promises to solve the problems of the people.
But they have not done much to address the challenges of hunger, unemployment and even insecurity. Buhari complained of unemployment before he came to power, but it is getting to his sixth year in office and has not done much to address the problems of poverty and unemployment.
Meanwhile, the hijabwearing human rights activists, and Co-Convener of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) Movement, Aisha Yesufu, has attributed the continued protests by angry youths across the country to a demonstration of their lack of trust and low credibility rating of the government of the day.
Yesufu, who disclosed this during an appearance on ‘Hard Copy’, a Channels Television programme monitored in Abuja, said that the protesters have refused to leave the streets despite the purported disbandment of SARS by the Inspector General of Police, because Nigerian leaders are notorious for reneging on their promises.
The activist, who had been in the forefront of the protests, alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration have never shown any reason why the citizens should trust them, having displayed brazen betrayal on matters that adversely affect the people.
According to her, Buhari obviously showed he was not disturbed by the continued rage across the country, by laughing off the presentation made by Lagos State Governor, Jide Sanwolu, who visited him to discuss the demands of the protesting youths.
Yesufu explained that the youths who are risking their lives by facing the unfriendly weather and harsh environment on the streets protesting, were doing so as an expression of doubt because of government’s failures to be sincere in the past. “The protest is not like any that we have seen before.
The protests we have seen before were for empathy, but this one is for survival. We have seen a worrisome situation when the governor of Lagos State went to see the President and was passing the demands of these protesters to him, the governor was talking about compensation and justice for the victims of Police brutality, but the President sniggered and laughed him off.
“The government hasn’t put itself as one that can be trusted, because over times, it has always broken its promises. We have a government whose words are not its bond. The youths cannot trust our leaders. “We have seen protesters being attacked in Lagos in front of the Government House.
Thugs have also attacked protesters under the supervision of the police. And this is not the first time it is happening. So with all these, you can’t blame anybody for not trusting the government, because it has always shown not to help sincerely, and people are looking for sincerity of purpose,” she said.