President Muhammadu Buhari has restated his commitment to implementing the five demands made by youths during the #ENDSARS protests that swept across the country in October.
President Buhari made the promise in his New Year message, stressing the fact that “Our young people are our most valuable natural resource, at home and abroad.”
He made the pledge on the solemn reality that he is the elected President and Commander-in-Chief of the country, calling the youths the most valuable resources.
His words: “This government heard, this government listened and this government is committed to fulfilling the five demands of our youths, fully understanding that we all wish well for Nigeria.”
Recall that while the #ENDSARS protests lasted, the youths called for sweeping reforms that included the welfare of police officers.
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The demands coalesced into five: Immediate release of all arrested protesters; justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families; setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10days);
In line with the police act, psychological evaluation and retaining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be redeployed, and increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens.
In his New Year speech, President Muhammadu Buhari said: “2020 indeed came with a lot of challenges ranging from security and economic issues across the regions to understandable protests that were mainly led by our youths and served notice to the demand for police reforms and accountability.
“This government heard, this government listened and this government is committed to fulfilling the five demands of our youths, fully understanding that we all wish well for Nigeria.
“In the midst of all these challenges, I had initially pledged that as your elected President and Commander-in-Chief, I would ensure that these ongoing challenges will be faced head-on with renewed determination and with all the appropriateness and urgency required.
“Your voices have been heard and we would continue to listen to you, and all the key stakeholders who are committed to the unity of Nigeria to ensure that every region of this nation is safe for us all, while guaranteeing that the future is also secure for the coming generation.
“I wish to also use this occasion of New Year to reaffirm my commitment to the people of Nigeria, especially the youth who need our collective encouragement and support. In securing this nation we need to secure the future of our youth.
“Our young people are our most valuable natural resource, at home and abroad. Their ingenuity, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit is evident to all.
“Many of our young people are excelling in various spheres of life including sports, entertainment, information and communication technology, commerce and are globally recognised as achievers.
“As a Government, we are committed to actively engaging with the creative energies of our young people.
“In this regard, we will partner with the legislature to develop an enabling environment to turn their passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled across regions.
“This will create vast opportunities in fintech, agriculture, business process start-ups and in the entertainment industry.”
(This report was first published January 1, 2021)