President Muhammadu Buhari has in the long awaited Broadcast over the growing #Endsars protest advised youths in Nigeria to stop the protest and allow his administration implement their demands. The president who said the government had responded swiftly to the demands of the youths regrets that the prompt response had been taken as a sign of weakness. He therefore implored them to take advantage of the different empowerment programmes being championed by the government rather than allow themselves to be used by some subversive elements.
Though he said he was pained by the fatalities during the protests, while also condemning the actions of some of the protesters who had also attacked some public facilities, the president was silent on the controversial tragic military attack on the peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos. There has been controversy over who ordered the military to attack the protesters the first night of a curfew imposed by Governor Babajide SANWO-OLU of Lagos State. While the governor rightly insisted that he had no control over any unit of the military, the army claimed that they did not deploy soldiers to the toll plaza. What was not in doubt was that the attack was carried out by people in military uniform. Could they have been impostors or men of the force deployed by intermediate officers who did not get clearance from superiors?
People had expected that the riddle will be resolved in the broadcast by the president. That did not happen. The president however said that efforts at doing an upward review of salaries of security personnel was already in process. That was one of the demands of the protesting youths who apparently sensed that the criminal tendencies of some of the special anti robbery squad, SARS in the police may have been as a result of low remuneration of the security personnel.
Buhari was also obviously unhappy about the disposition of some governments and agencies in the international community about the situation in Nigeria. For them he had an advice: “To our neighbours in particular, and members of the international community, many of whom have expressed concern about the ongoing development in Nigeria, we thank you and urge you all to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgment and making hasty pronouncements.”
The president’s appeal to the youths is simply to desist from being used by subversive elements: “I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful, and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.
“For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation. Under no circumstances will this be tolerated.”