Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday warned that the on-going carnage in the country has further exposed Nigeria to the risk of total collapse, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently take proactive steps before things spiral out of control. Obasanjo said: “We are at a critical moment in this crisis and Mr. President must act before it is too late.
This time demands leadership and mature leadership at such.” The former president said this in a statement, titled: “Statement on Violence Against Protesters in Nigeria: An Appeal for Calm.”
Obasanjo expressed sadness over the shooting of the protesters by the military, which led to the on-going wanton destruction of lives and properties in the country. He blamed President Buhari for the killings of #EndSARS protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos State, insisting that Buhari and his “lieutenants” did not exhaust the opportunities for dialogue with the protesters before resulting to use of force.
He enjoined the protesting youths to give peace a chance as they go about making their legitimate demand. His words: “It is with a heavy heart and deep sense of concern about the on-going violence, chaos and unrest in many parts of Nigeria that I make this appeal to government and people of our dear country, Nigeria, to eschew violence and embrace peace and dialogue in finding solutions to the challenges we face as a country.
“I particularly appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, in capacities as president of Nigeria, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, and a parent of youths like the ones who have, in the last week, come out in peaceful protest against police brutality and for improvement in their lives and their living conditions, to restrain the military and other security agencies from using brute force as a way of ending the crisis.
“The shooting and murder of unarmed protesters, no matter the level of provocation, has never been effective in suppressing public anger and frustration. Instead, such actions only reinforce the anger and frustration of the populace and close the window of dialogue and peaceful resolution.
“It is clear that Mr. President and his lieutenants did not exhaust the opportunities for dialogue with the protesters before resulting to use of force. It is worse that there is denial of wrongdoing in spite of overwhelming visual evidence. Great harm has been done, but it can be stopped before it completely spirals out of control.
“Most of the demands of the protesting youths, which Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State swiftly took to the president, are not unreasonable and can be met without anyone’s political interest or ambition being threatened.
It is imperative that leaders at all levels, starting from Mr. President, must demonstrate meekness, humanity and sincerity in meeting the legitimate demands of the protesters and ensuring that justice is served where it must be served. These are the most potent ways of ending this crisis now.
“The youth too must give peace a chance while making their legitimate demands. They must be mindful of miscreants who will infiltrate their ranks and give the protests a bad name only so that triggerhappy forces will kill them.
The destruction and looting of public and private properties will hurt all of us and set us back. The targeting of individuals and groups for attacks and reprisals will only further widen our divisions, escalate the crisis and threaten our fragile unity. “This is yet another moment when our nation is on the edge of cliff. Our individual and collective actions now and in the next few days will determine where we will go as a nation. May God help us in taking the right steps in the right direction.”