EndSARS: Open Letter To President Buhari – By Doyin Okupe
The above subject matter and the recent protests in the country by Nigerian youths in the last few days, I am sure, are causes for major concern to Your Excellency Mr President, your government and those who wish Nigeria well.
But let me begin by thanking you for the direction you have steered the ship of state in this troubled and turbulent waters. The calmness and your determined refusal to use force or try other surreptitious means that we normally use to stop or truncate this type of national embarrassment is commendable.
But sir, the government must immediately take urgent steps to avoid further escalations and possible undesirable complications.
Unfortunately, the foundations of these problems go beyond your administration. This, definitely is a culminative effect of sustained bad leadership, poor and bad governance, and repeated failure of successive administrations and public office holders to recognise the place of service to the governed and the state while holding public office.
The total neglect of the welfare, well-being and destiny of our young population is at the heart of the current crisis.
The sad and regrettable attitude of public officers across all tiers of government, past and present, has been that of Emperors, Kings and Princes or Princesses.
On the attainment of power, either through elections or appointments, everything changes. Though our elections and appointments are supposed to be the beginning of serious work in providing service to the populace, most of us, wrongly assume that it is our time of arrival, of rest and of gratifying and collecting “due” rewards.
It usually signifies the beginning of inglorious display of greed, avarice, primitive acquisition, arrogance, impunity, prebendalism, nepotism and financial mismanagement, embezzlement and recklessness.
Mr President sir, this is why we are where we are today. Also if I must add, this is why you must not take this personal.
However, it is for these same reasons that our youths are decisively adamant and insistent on bringing the roof down unless their myriads and never ending demands are met. It is obvious that though these struggles started with an “#EndSars” rhetoric, the issues at hand are far beyond SARS and even Ending Police Brutality.
It is a dangerous and willful combination of anger, resentment, frustration, joblessness, hopelessness, revenge, total lack of trust and zealotry. All laced with a good measure of palpable and evident youthful exuberance.
The movements appear organic, hydra headed, multi purposed, defiant , recalcitrant and patently and forcefully anti-government.
All of the above are dangerous and florid signs and symptoms of a composite dynamite; difficult to detonate and perilous to handle except with wisdom and tact.
From what I see personally, the die seems to be cast.
In truth sir, the demands of the youths are overdue, legitimate, noble and if met, will definitely Reset the engine for the rejigging the workings of government, governance and our peaceful co existence and progress.
The present state of affairs of the nation is configured in such a way that if no definite change is in site, our teeming population of youths No longer have anything to lose anymore even if the nation is grounded to a halt or if, God forbids, they are to lose their lives. It is this bad.
Your Excellency sir, your goodself and your government must critically appraise the sordid picture I have painted above, and if as little as 40% of members of your inner core think it is real, then please discard the opinions of the remaining 60% and forgo everything else till you are able to get us out of this unprecedented national quagmire and seeming paralyzing perplexity.
Sir, with all humility, having served two presidents and close to the bedroom (corridor) of power, I know and understand the workings of the Presidency and governments. As of this day sir, 50% of your closest allies are not really close to you, but are only close to the seat you occupy. 30% of the remaining are your true loyalists and they actually wish you well, and will readily acquiesce to the preponderant opinion in the villa and in government circles, but they lack the capacity required in times of crisis, to help you. Yet 90% of the hawks around you are just what they are… HAWKS!!! Their sizes and ferocity are derived exclusively from your own power, and should anything untoward happen, God forbids, they are the first to leave and do often turn around to criticise your handling of crisis which by their unresonableness, they created for you.
In this period sir, ignore their counsels completely as you are already doing.
Though things appear unstable and unpredictable Mr President, the situation is not beyond redemption. Sir to move forward will require you to do things hitherto, thought as unthinkable, considering your personality.
You must totally have a change of mindset and administrative style. You need to begin to view the nation through new Prisms. But first you must go into a brief personal retreat and reflect on the way and manner this country has been governed under your administration. Resolve in your mind to begin the change you sold to a majority if nigerians, with your own self. Then come out with honesty and a refreshed vision and address the majority of Nigerians who showed you so much love and affection even against reason ability in 2019. Talk to nigerians from the innermost recess of a new and contrite heart. You can still connect with many if not all who believed in you.
WHAT IS THE WAY OUT?
Please permit me, your Excellency, to make a few suggestions.
Deal with low hanging fruits immediately to re-establish credibility.
1.There are some SARS officers who have been accused of brutality and murder. They should be arraigned in court in the next 72 hours. This is without prejudice to the judicial panels being set across the states.
2. The creation of SWAT was ill-timed and removes seriousness from the desired police reforms considerations. Please let’s do away with this new formation and have a fresh start.
3. Issue an Executive Order prohibiting the use of force under any guise against peaceful protests throughout the country.
4. An urgent attempt should be made by government to reach out to the protesters through the states and other machinerries available to government and bring them to a roundtable for decisive engagement and consideration on their demands.
5. The establishment of a National Youth Advisory Council under the Ministry of Youths and Sports for youths to constantly interface with governments at various levels.
6. Establishment of a Special Youth Liaison body to work and interface with the leadership of the National Assembly on regular basis and be attached to the office of the Presidential NASS Liaison Officer.
7. Appointment of six (6) youths to serve on the board of the National Human Rights Commission.
8. Call for full details of the demands of the youths and act decisively on them on the basis of: immediate, short term and long term prospects.
9. Now it is time government takes the request for restructuring very seriously. IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY. The document submitted after the last confab is a good starting point.
Mr President, I have made the above suggestions not just to resolve the present crisis, but to ensure that the situations that led to the present state of affairs of our nation do not repeat themselves.
Finally, Mr President, going forward, you will need to widen the base of your core consultative team, to avail you opportunities to hear other opinions beside your immediate core confidants.
An immediate National Presidential broadcast to identify with and pacify these angry youths and the silent majority of Nigerians who support them is imperative and urgent.
I pray for you sir, that the Almighty God will be with you, guide you and grant you the wisdom you require to continue to lead this nation to its ultimate envisioned and manifest destiny.
*Dr Doyin Okupe is a former presidential spokesman.