Should Nigerians be protesting to #EndSARS? by Ameen Abdul
NEWS DIGEST – Over the past week, Nigerian youths trooped out in their thousands under the #EndSARS banner to protest against the Anti-Robbery Special Unit of the Nigerian Police Force. The protesters remained on the streets for hours, confronting police officers.
Protests have taken place all over Nigeria and in multiple countries as well, thus gathering international media attention. Media outlets such as CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera have reported the ongoing protests and SARS violations over the past decade. Foreign Governments have issued statements and International Organizations have urged the Nigerian Government to take action in protecting its citizens’ against Police violence and brutality.
While the protests’ turnout have been impressive so far, it remains a mystery as to why Nigerian youths have failed to come out in such numbers and with such resilience to protest Nigeria’s bad leadership and governance.
Protesting and calling for an end to SARS alone will fail to address the larger issue at hand. Institutional reform is needed across multiple sectors in Nigeria including the security sector and the Police, DSS, Army, Navy, Air Force, Customs and others require change starting from the Executives all the way down to the individual level.
However, this type of change can only be implemented under a new and functional government system that actually takes into account the well-being of its citizens. If President Buhari’s administration eventually decides to disband the SARS Unit, another unit will take its place, Policemen will continue to extort drivers on the road, and citizens will continue to feel unsafe in their communities.
So what exactly does ending SARS achieve? Well, not much in the long run. If Nigerian youths could protest in these number for an extended period of time, with influential youths around the world including Davido, Burna boy, Diddy, Trey Songz and others joining in the movement, significant change possible.
We could have governmental reform on a much larger scale resulting in a better life for every Nigerian citizen. Protesting SARS alone is like you go into the hospital suffering from the early stages of a heart attack, the hospital responds by putting a band-aid on your chest. This analogy represents the idea that the solution isn’t targeting the underlying source of the problem and is likely misdirected.
While citizens don’t seem to realize the opportunity to protest a greater cause, AAC Leader and Social/Political Activist, Omoyele Sowore could view this as an opportunity to build on what he has already started. Feeding into the narrative and guiding the discussion will allow for him to gain momentum and active followers, needed to secure votes in future elections.
People already know what Sowore stands for and people know he has been protesting social injustices for decades so he would be able to ensure youth stay in the streets to demand not only an end to SARS but good governance and leadership. Revolution Now movement has called for people to come out into the streets and protest however, responses have dwindled over time.
With people already in the streets now, the movement doesn’t need to find a way to get people out, it just need to find a way to keep them coming out continually till real change is in effect.
Ameen Abdul is a human right activist based in Abuja.