Friday, October 23, 2020

#EndSARS: Rest and recover your energy, for the journey ahead of us is long

I have seen posts today indicating many young Nigerians feel tired and defeated. I wanted to remind us all that building a country that works for us and our children is a marathon, not a sprint.

Let us not diminish what we achieved over the past few weeks. SARS was disbanded, again, and hopefully for good. Many state governments have set up panels of inquiry into police brutality and some have started “showing their workings”. We have shown the political class that it will not always be business as usual. And there’s more.

I am deeply sorry for the lives that were taken by agents of the state during the protests and by hoodlums during the unrest that erupted afterwards. I am also very sorry for the people who were injured. These ultimate sacrifices must not be in vain.

We have seen an incredible amount of vandalization and looting since protesters were forcefully dispersed and hoodlums took over. This is wrong. Businesses create jobs and enable people to improve their life outcomes. State property, such as public buses that benefit us all, has been destroyed and must now be replaced with public funds.

This further underscores two things. The government failed at its responsibility to secure society. Law enforcement must be reorganized to guarantee internal security rather than harass citizens. This is part of what the #EndSARS movement stands for. Second is that we must act speedily to create opportunities for the millions of poorly educated and underemployed young people of this country.

I’m thankful for the many young people and organizations who rose to the challenge of leading and organizing this movement. It is incredible how quickly people swung into action to provide food, legal representation, counseling, funding, and ambulance services to protesters. Thank you all.

We must not give up. “We have to remember — history does not move in a straight line, it zigs and zags”. This is up to us. No heroes are coming to save us. We must continue to plan, organize, educate people offline, and engage with the political process before and during elections. We must keep the energy going so that Nigeria can work for us and for our children.

Rest, eat, and recover your energy — for the journey ahead of us is long.


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