National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday told youths protesting against police brutality to sheathe their sword as the federal government which had heard their grievances would accede to their demands without delay. Besides, he appealed to religious leaders in the country to prevail on theirfollowers on the need tocalloff theprotestinthe interest of peace as the government had made commitment to implement their demands.
Tinubu, who in a statement yesterday reviewed the protest in the last twelve days and its tolls on the nation, assured the protesting youthsof thefederal government’s commitment to do justice to their demands. Hesaid:“Forthepasttwelve days, our countryhaswitnessed massiveprotestsbyyouthsindifferent cities, which were ignited by widespread disenchantment with the gross human rights abuses including torture, extortion, harassment, intimidation and even extra-judicial killings of Nigeriansbymembersof the disbandedSpecialAnti-robbery Squad (SARS).
“The demands for fundamental police reforms by the protesting youths are in pursuit of our aspiration in our national anthem “to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign”. Justice as one of our greatest writers has memorably noted is “the first condition of humanity”. “A society where those who are paid from the public purse toprotectthelivesandproperty of the people become themselves threats to the liberty, safetyand dignity of the people; where human life is difficult to distinguish from Thomas Hobbes ‘State of Nature – ‘solitary, poor, nasty and brutish’ is not one fit for free and decent peopletolivein.
Suchimpunity and lawlessness are incompatible with the values and tenets of a democratic society governed by the supremacy of the rule of law. “It is impossible for anyone truly committed to the rule of law, democracy and good governance to be opposed to the concern and demands of the protesters.
There is no way thatanysocietycanmakemeaningful progress without the enthronement of these values. The protesters have for the better part of the commencement of their civil action conducted themselves with an admirable sense of responsibility, restraint and maturity. This is commendable. Indeed, the high level of organization demonstrated by the protesting youths shows a new level of consciousness of the capability of a vigilant civil society as well as the efficacy of people’s power.
This canonlyultimatelystrengthen thecountry’sdemocraticevolution and sustainability. “Arnold Toynbee, the great 19th century historian observed that societies progress through a process of ‘challenge and response’; Society confronts challenges such as injustice, impunity, corruption, dictatorship and are forced to respond in resistance and struggle for emancipation. “The result is the triumph of justice over injustice, liberty over tyranny and right over wrongthusenablingthesociety tobeelevatedtoahigherlevelof good, accountable, responsible and responsive governance.
It was through this process that colonialism, apartheid, and all forms of dictatorship, misrule and tyranny have been overcome across time and space. Our current democratic dispensationwasborneof struggle in response to the challenge of military dictatorship.
“The impunity of SARS was thus a challenge that the youthhave responded positivelyandcourageouslytoandhas triggered the commencement of the fundamental reform of the country’s policing system.
But then, the protesters must admit that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has acted with commendable dispatch by not only scrapping SARS but also accepting the five-point demand that triggered the protests. “This shows a laudable sensitivity to the grievances of the youths. It is only fair that government must be given the chance to implement the reforms demanded by the protesters. This can certainly notbedoneinstantaneouslyby the waving of a magic wand.
If government had not implemented promised reforms in the past, the swiftness with which it has responded to the demands of the protesters this time around shows that that there is a positive change by government both of attitude and of a new sense of urgency.