By Dirisu Yakubu
Worried by increasing lawlessness across the land owing to protests staged by the youths against police brutality, former governor of Kaduna state, Senator Ahmed Makarfi has called on the federal government to urgently address issues raised by the protesters as a means of finding resolution of the crisis.
Makarfi warned President Muhammadu Buhari against deploying military might to quell the agitations, noting that as a member of the civilized world; Nigeria must engage the protesters in a meaningful dialogue capable of restoring peace, which has become elusive in some parts of the country in the past two weeks.
In an exclusive chat Vanguard, Senator Makarfi condemned the degeneration of the protests in some parts of the country into criminal behaviours resulting in the destruction of lives and properties.
He said, “This is the time to take all lawful actions necessary to restore peace, shun violence and address all issues raised and even those not raised by our youths. Right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by the constitution and international conventions which we have subscribed to. At same time destruction of public and private properties is regrettable,” adding that “most painful is loss of innocent lives.”
According to him, “governments at all levels should go beyond politics and provide the required leadership to deal with all the issues. Of course people with a hand in the killings, arsons and destructions should be held accountable for their actions.”
On his part, immediate past secretary general of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Anthony Sani called on the protesting youths to give peace a chance, given that some of their demands have been met by the federal government. He pointed out the dangers in forcing the hand of government to do their bidding, saying a similar development is what is currently playing out between the federal government and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
He further called on President Buhari to address the nation if only to assure the protesters that government will spare no effort in meeting their demands.
His words: “Given the stage of the nation’s development reeling from poverty that comes with unemployment and ignorance, it is difficult for protests to last more than one week without spiralling into violent confrontations with hoodlums who are waiting on the wings in order to take advantage and loot.
“And since the government has acceded to the demands of the protesters, it is better for them to sheath their swords and await the implementation of the demands acceded to by the government. There is no need for any addition of fresh demands.
“I say this because forcing government to accept demands which its lean resources cannot implement as required is never helpful. Recall how ASUU forced President (Umaru) Yar’ Adua to accept agreement in 2009 without considering the resources at disposal to the government. But because the government did not have enough resources to meet the demands by ASUU at the time wanted, the government has been accused unfairly of bad faith.
“I therefore appeal to the protesters to sheath their swords, give government the benefit of the doubt and await implementations. Government on the other hand, should go as far as efforts can go and meet the demands as agreed upon by the two parties.
“To this end, Mr President may wish to consider the possibility of addressing the nation by assuring the protesters of the government’s resolve to deliver on the promise of the demands and appeal to them to call off the protests, considering the dire consequences of continuous protests. This is very necessary in order to avoid further destruction of lives, properties and the economy.”
The protests which started two weeks ago have since snowballed into violent skirmishes with deaths reported in Abuja, Benin, Port Harcourt amongst other major cities.