The Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, on Wednesday, said that Nigerian youths have been taken for granted for too long, hence the need for leaders to adopt a paradigm shift on matters concerning them.
He said this while addressing the #EndSARS protesters that stormed the Governor’s Office, in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
He added that the government should start taking Nigerian youths seriously considering the raging protests across the length and breadth of the country.
He said that the Federal government had no choice but to listen to the voice of the protesters, saying it was clearly evident that the Police need to put a stop to the brutalities being experienced across the country.
“Nigerian youths have a voice that must be given attention. The whole country has listened to you. As a matter of fact, the whole world is listening to you. You have demonstrated commitment, you have shown that you can rise up when the occasion warrant it and you can speak out.
“I think that in times past, we have sort of taken you for granted and I am saying that with all sense of responsibility. We have taken our youths for granted because the issues you are raising today are not new to us. They are issues we have been living with for so many years”, the governor opined.
He, however, appealed to the youths to give the government a chance to start implementing the needed reforms of the Nigeria Police Force, noting that their action was an indication that they are citizens whose voice matter.
“Really, you have succeeded and I think what you have to do is to allow us to begin to see the implementation of these reforms. You know the implementation will not be instant because it will take time for them to be visible.
“I want to plead with you, let us give these reforms a chance to work. Let us try and see how to wind down these protest. You have the right to protest anytime as no one can take that away from you. What we must ask ourselves is, is the government committed, have they shown symbolism? I believe the government has shown symbolism”, he said.
The governor acknowledged that there had been a breakdown of trust between the government and the citizens, adding that for it to be restored, citizens must trust their government to do what was right at all times.
Governor Abiodun said he identifies with the pains of the protesters and as their representative, it is imperative he acts on their feedback, assuring that he and his colleagues are deliberating on how to ensure that their voice was not only heard, but demands are met.
He said the government would not charge those arrested in the course of the protest as he has ordered the release of those arrested for vandalising a police station and his deputy’s car by the security agents.
Earlier, the spokesperson of the protesting Nigerian youths, Yemi Ajala who said that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which had been disbanded was still harassing people in the state, he noted that they no longer want any form of brutality from the Police while going about their legal activities.
Some of the other protesters demanded the release of all those arrested during the protest, justice and compensation to the families of the victims, an independent body to investigate police brutality, appropriate remunerations for police officers to enable them to perform optimally.