By Omeiza Ajayi
A support group within the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, ‘the APC Young Stakeholders’ has weighed in on the ongoing #EndSARS protests, urging those who are still on the streets to ceasefire and allow for the implememtation of their demands rather than continuing with the protests and exhausting their goodwill.
Speaking at a news conference held at the national secretariat of the party on Saturday in Abuja, spokesperson of the group, Barr. Aliyu Yusuf Shehu, “acknowledged the genuineness behind the agitations” and commended the protesters for their resilience.
The group said government has made a lot of concessions and that there is need to halt the protests to allow for implementation of government plans.
Shehu said; “While we are aware that the decades of mistrust between our leaders and the led have left little room for us to trust these promises of the government, we must also realise that some of these demands will take time to manifest. We are using this medium to appeal to our fellow young Nigerians to consider pausing the protest while we give reasonable timelines and deliverables acceptable to both the people and the government to see these demands materialize.
“It is time to give the government a chance to work on these promises. Any further discomfort or even loss of life cannot be justified. We ask our fellow youths, to please leave the streets for their houses and place work or businesses. We ask them to stop putting themselves and others at risk. We want no further deaths. There is no need for any more bloodshed. As Young stakeholders of the governing party, we promise to put enough pressure on the government to ensure that these reforms are speedy, complete and comprehensive.
“We don’t want to lose the goodwill garnered so far by continued protests which are now doing more harm to the ordinary people whom this call was to cater for in the first place. There have been reports of great discomfort to people across the country who are trying to get back to earning a legitimate living after months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic; more concerning is the daily reports of death. Yesterday, there were reports that three persons died in Edo. In Ondo, a car rammed into protesters, killing one and injuring others.
“Oh, we won’t rest! We will fight the fight! This is a promise we ask you to hold us on.
Our fellow Nigerian youths, tomorrow is still very bright. We don’t want to win the battle and lose the War. Lets not allow people from within and outside with ulterior motives hijack the struggle for selfish gains.
“Let’s leave the streets and go back home. If possible, form civil organizations that will engage government even better! Let’s not make other people suffer. We need not block roads as people with emergencies are bound to be in them. We need not ground commercial activities as people need to eat. We should not be the monsters we are trying to fight!”
The group however commended the protesters for the feat achieved so far, especially with the dissolution of SARS and the acceptance of the five-point demand that came with it.
“We acknowledge the fact that these protests, which have become sustained despite government agreeing to the demands is as a result of the long years of mistrust between the government and the people, but we are not oblivious of the fact that the present government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed and already showing the desire to bridge that gap and right the wrongs of many years, predating this government. That is why we want to call on the understanding of young members and supporters of our party, the APC not to see the protests from purely the point of standing against the government as the brutality of the police or SARS does not recognize political affiliation when they occur.
“It is on this note also that we want to call on our fellow Nigerians who are still on the streets protesting not to see this protest as an end, but a means to an end. The right to protest is ours; no government can strip us of that power and this government has demonstrated clear understanding of these rights by continuously allowing protests to go on so long as they remain peaceful.
“We have made our voices heard. On Sunday, October 11th, Muhammad Adamu, Inspector-General of Police announced the disbandment of the unit. It is victory! Youths all over Twitter reported seeing SARS offices in their various states under lock and key. It was a solid victory! Furthermore, President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the disbandment is just the beginning of a long process of reforming the police. The President has listened and he has the power to effect change. And he is doing it.
“The National Economic Council gave a directive that states should create their own judicial panel of enquiry that will investigate cases of police brutality.
“These panels will be made up of students, youths, civil society representative, and will be chaired by a retired State High Court Judge. The Council also directed the formation of a Special Security and Human Rights Commitee that will be chaired by state governors. A Human Rights Public Complaints Team will also be established per the NEC’s directive. To compensate victims of police brutality, NEC directed that a Victim Trust Fund be established.
“Just yesterday, we read that the presidential panel set up to reform SARS submitted its report to the Police Service Commission. It recommended the dismissal of 37 former SARS officers and prosecution of 24 for professional misconduct. This is in addition to the 10 that were already dismissed and 9 others demoted. This is a big win, great Nigerian Youths. The government has listened to our cries. It has taken immediate and strategic steps to improve policing in the country. That is why we came out to the streets. That is why we left the comfort of our homes for the heat of the sun and the sonorous voices of mosquitoes.
“Fellow Nigerian youths, we know that the #ENDSARS protest isn’t just about SARS and police brutality but a vital call for the total reform of the different sectors of our national life”, the group added.