#EndSARS: APC should amend gaps between its promises, performance ― Tinubu

National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has called on the party leadership to utilise the opportunity of ongoing protests across the country by Nigerian youths to examine the gaps between its promises and its performance in order to make necessary amends.

Nigerian youths for the past two weeks have been on the streets nationwide, protesting an end to the brutality exhibited, in form of torture, extortion, harassment, intimidation and even extra-judicial killings of Nigerians by members of the disbanded Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), in what has been tagged #EndSARS agitation.

Tinubu, while making the call and noting that the party had no doubt recorded tremendous achievements in diverse sectors since 2015, charged the party to go back to the drawing board and recommit itself to the values for which the party was formed through extraordinary hard work, dedication and commitment.

According to the APC chieftain, it is imperative that all members put aside petty and shortsighted ambitions, needless infighting and unite to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s government in order for it to focus on delivering on its mandate for the remainder of its tenure.

Tinubu made the call on Tuesday in a statement titled: “#EndSARS protests- The remedy for national maladies is more, not less, democracy,” copy of was made available to newsmen, even as he lauded the aggrieved youths for peaceful conduct, noting that the demands for fundamental police reforms by them were in pursuit of the aspiration in the country’s national anthem towards building a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

“It is important that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) utilise this protest as an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and recommit itself to the values for which the party was formed through extraordinary hard work, dedication and commitment.

“There is no doubt that the party has recorded tremendous achievements in diverse sectors since 2015. But it now has to sit back, examine the gaps between its promises and its performance in order to make necessary amends.

“It is important that all members of the party put aside petty and shortsighted ambitions, needless infighting and unite to support the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to focus on delivering on its mandate for the remainder of its tenure,” the APC leader said.

Tinubu, while throwing support for the aggrieved youths, aligned with a popular writer, saying justice is the first condition of humanity, even as he decried a society where those who were paid from the public purse to protect the lives and property of the people become themselves threats to the liberty, safety and dignity of the people, among others.

According to the APC chieftain, such impunity and lawlessness are incompatible with the values and tenets of a democratic society governed by the supremacy of the rule of law, saying it was impossible for anyone truly committed to the rule of law, democracy and good governance to be opposed to the concern and demands of the protesters.

“There is no way that any society can make meaningful progress without the enthronement of these values. The protesters have for the better part of the commencement of their civil action conducted themselves with an admirable sense of responsibility, restraint and maturity. This is commendable.

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“Indeed, the high level of organisation demonstrated by the protesting youths shows a new level of consciousness of the capability of a vigilant civil society as well as the efficacy of people’s power. This can only ultimately strengthen the country’s democratic evolution and sustainability.

“Arnold Toynbee, the great 19th-century historian observed that societies progress through a process of ‘challenge and response.’ Society confronts challenges such as injustice, impunity, corruption, dictatorship and is forced to respond in resistance and struggle for emancipation. The result is the triumph of justice over injustice, liberty over tyranny and right over wrong thus enabling the society to be elevated to a higher level of good, accountable, responsible and responsive governance.

“It was through this process that colonialism, apartheid, and all forms of dictatorship, misrule and tyranny have been overcome across time and space,” he said.

Tinubu, who is a former governor of Lagos State, recalled that the nation’s current democratic dispensation was borne of struggle in response to the challenge of military dictatorship, declaring that the impunity of SARS was thus a challenge that the youth had responded positively and courageously to and a development that had triggered the commencement of the fundamental reform of the country’s policing system.

He said the quick response of President Buhari “shows a laudable sensitivity to the grievances of the youths,” but enjoined the protesters to give the government the chance to implement the reforms demanded as what they demanded, “can certainly not be done instantaneously by the waving of a magic wand.”

“If the government had not implemented promised reforms in the past, the swiftness with which it has responded to the demands of the protesters this time around shows that there is a positive change by the government both of attitude and of a new sense of urgency,” Tinubu said.

“The protesters have made considerable gains within a very short period. But they should also be careful not to fritter away such gains due to lack of moderation and strategic thinking,” he warned.

“For instance, it is unfortunate that hoodlums, thugs and assorted criminals have seized on the protests to perpetrate violence, disrupt civil life and harass, intimidate and assault innocent persons going about their lawful business.

The intent of the organisers of the protests is to achieve stated objectives on police reform, which the government has in principle accepted.

It can certainly not be their motive to cause generalised anarchy or effect regime change. If they give the impression that that is their goal, then any government will necessarily have to act with the requisite decisiveness and force to restore law and order and preserve the constitutional rule.

“However, the protesters must be careful not to set the stage for the erosion or destruction of the same democratic process that gives them the freedom and right to protest in the first place. Their democratic right to protest must not be exercised in such a way that impedes the democratic right of other citizens to freedom of movement, expression and the liberty to pursue their livelihoods,” he further warned.

Speaking further, the APC chieftain, Tinubu, posited that the cure for protracted and delicate national problems was to continue to strengthen the democratic process rather than engage in acts that can lead to generalised anarchy in which democracy cannot thrive.

He contended that the protests had forcefully demonstrated the reality and potency of people’s power, saying the new energy must be tapped and channelled to strengthen, not weaken the country’s democracy as the nation surely cannot remain the same after.

Tinubu, while reiterating that the government had demonstrated its sensitivity to the demands of the youth and must now be supported to implement the reforms it has committed itself to, said it was a  good sign that Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and a number of other state governments had speedily set up judicial panels of inquiry into acts of police brutality over the years.

He, however, urged the state governments which were yet to do so to emulate this example, adding: “This process of change should be supported and this cannot be done in an atmosphere of endless protests that are also crippling an economy already enfeebled by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Tinubu also commended all the religious leaders, Christians and Muslims for their patriotism and high sense of responsibility at this sensitive time, even as he appealed to them to call on their teeming followers to call off the protests for now and give peace a chance.

“Finally, I also strongly appeal to the protesters- You have made your point. Government has made its commitment to you. Please, please and please, call off the protests. Give the government a chance to implement your demands. God bless you,” he said.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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