Governance Failure and Youth Protest in Nigeria


STATEMENT


The Initiative for Transformative Policy and Inclusive Development (INTRAPID,

Africa) wishes to join other patriotic Nigerians in deprecating police brutality and bad

governance in Nigeria. We align with the rest of the world to condemn the excessive use of force against unarmed peaceful protesters across the country, as well as ongoing acts of carnage, brigandage, and destruction of public and private properties.


We stand in solidarity with the non-violent agitation of young people in Nigeria and

many other parts of the world, demanding evident positive change in how their

fatherland is governed and the accountability of state officials, whether security

agents or political officeholders. For us, this demand is the thrust of the #ENDSARS

campaign triggered by the ferocious and extortive activities of men of the police,

particularly the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)—which has become a symbolic

representation of all things undesirable about Nigeria.


Therefore, we condemn in emphatic terms the unwarranted attack on and killings of

peaceful protesters in various locations across the country. We note with disdain, the

charade by political interest, both from some incumbent political office holders and

elements from opposition groups, who have cashed in on the mood of the innocent

young people who are clamouring for a better-governed Nigeria and resorted to the

use of hired thugs and uniformed mercenaries in order to discredit the well-intended

and legitimate agitation of Nigerian youths. 


For far too long, and indeed since the country's independence in 1960, Nigerian

citizens have grappled with diverse forms of oppression, repression, and bad

governance. These have been recurrently evident in the brutal and corrupt character

of law enforcement institutions and agents, the poor record of the rule of law, the

decadent state of public infrastructure, medical facilities, educational systems and

facilities, sanitation, electric power supply, potable water, and motor-able roads

among others.


We are proud of the thousands of young people who have taken to the street in a

remarkably peaceful and orderly manner in order to alter the longstanding narrative

of Nigerians as irredeemably passive people, supporting bad leadership in a country

where leaders are unquestionable gods. We are thrilled by their acts of courage and

altruism, their passion and patriotism, and their sense of duty as citizens who stood

up to change the narrative of their nation. We at INTRAPID, Africa, strongly believe

that the echoes of our youth's voices have resonated loudly across the globe, and

they shall no longer be treated as "lazy youths" but as soldiers of conscience and

warriors in defence of their country.


We join the families of our brothers and sisters in the struggle who have lost their

lives in mourning the unforgettable fallen heroes. We sympathize with their loved

ones, dependent siblings, parents, and all others grieved relatives in these trying

times of national loss. We are encouraged by faith in God that the good cause for

which they died shall be counted for them in the hereafter. We pray that God grants

those they have left behind the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. They have

fought a good fight, and their names shall be etched in gold in the history of the

Nigerian state as they have stood justifiably.


Over several years, the series of brutal military interregnums has left us with a

society of people with a battered psyche—a society that long maintained a

dysfunctional passivism of its masses as the leadership eats away the people's

goodwill. A picture of Nigerians as a people who have come to accept the state and

leaders as an unquestionable and unaccountable behemoth to whose chains and

oppression they must submit. This attitude of resignation has emboldened

successive batches of political leaders and public administrators to engage in

uninterrupted looting ventures as they could plunder the "national cake" without any

form of social resistance.


As a beast without bridles, this fear of the state was imported into the fourth republic as Nigeria returned to a democratization process in 1999. Organized unions and civil society formation, which generally served as a bastion of hope in ensuring public accountability from leaders, were effectively caged as patrons and cronies were either successively installed, or recalcitrant actors were cowed into submission or conformity by corrupt state and its actors. Thus, this

atmosphere provided ambit for politicians since 1999 to neglect the yearnings of the

masses and focus instead on maximum extraction of personal enrichment from the

state. 



The spectre of ethnic, religious, and political violence that has characterized the

Nigerian state since the inception of the fourth republic is an affirmation of a country

that has had its legitimacy in doubt as leadership has successively failed to deliver

on the socio-contractual obligations of the state expected of its emotionally battered

people. As a tool for sustaining this strangulating relationship between leaders and

the led, they have cultivated a disposition of hostility between the state and its

citizens as chains of economically scotching policies are serially imposed on the

masses. At the same time, political office holders profited increasingly from

humongous self-serving statutory allocations and unofficial diversion of the

commonwealth.


The effect of the above is mass impoverishment, mass unemployment, poor wages

for the employed, totally collapsed infrastructure, extortive charges for little services

by the few irregularly available services, absent public welfare support systems,

outrageous and multiple public taxations, and frequent imposition of austerity

measures on the masses. All of these are in the midst of flagrant exhibition of

ostentatious living, diversion of public wealth, and widening inequality occasioned by

the bad governance and corruption of the political class. In order to remain secure

while maintaining this age-long economic, social, and political dimensions of injustice

to their advantage, the elite have created a separate world of security for themselves

where the people are left exposed and vulnerable to various security menaces from

kidnappers, herdsmen, armed robbers, bandits, cattle rustlers, ethnic militias and

terrorists, all ravaging different parts of the country in proportions never before seen.


The ongoing nation-wide #ENDSARS protest, championed by the youths, is an

apparent reaction to decades of cumulative agonies and entrenched dysfunctionality

in which the country is entangled. Expressing their civic rights through such protests

is a welcome development capable of deepening democratic culture among young

people. It should also serve as an eye-opener to leaders at different levels of

governance that the elasticity limit of long-suffering Nigerians may have indeed been

stretched thin and that it may no longer be business as usual.


While we firmly believe that some of the demands are long-term based, the

government should, as a matter of urgency, demonstrate a genuine commitment to

those demands that could be immediately attended to as reflected in the scrapping

of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)- the symbol of the struggle. As

recommendations going forward, INTRAPID, Africa advances the following as

immediate, medium, and long term pathways to a better and youth-inclusive Nigerian

society. 

  • As immediate remedies to soothe frayed nerves and towards national healing, we recommend a national inquiry and exhaustive compilation of all people affected by police brutality and by the events of the killings and destructions of livelihoods and properties in the #ENDSARS protest. Adequate compensations should be paid to victims.


  • n furtherance of the above, we call for the immediate arrest, prosecution, and commensurate sanctions for all those involved in extrajudicial killings either as security agents, as authorizing military officers, or thug mobilizing political actors, as it relates to the ongoing youth campaign for good governance and end to the oppression of Nigerians in their own country.


  • While the democratic space has been expanded to accommodate more divergent groups/voices in the last two decades, we are of the view that political processes should be reformed to meet the developmental needs of the country against the current culture of predatory leadership.


  • We believe that the prospects for economic development in the country are primarily dependent on genuine diversification of the resource-base and reduced cost of governance- where administrative wastage and redundancies gulp the bulk of the country's annual budgets. Lip service has long been paid to these thematic areas of public administration. We recommend the immediate ratification of the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalization of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies (a.k.a Stephen Oransaye report) and the National Assembly should do the needful by legalizing the recommendations. 


  • The entrenched culture of impunity that pervades every stratum of the society should be frontally addressed through the instrumentality of the existing laws. Sacred cow mentality or "bigmanism" in the socio-political space should, therefore, be seen as a deadly menace that deserves emergency declaration. 


  • The gross inefficiency and grand corruption in governance business, which appear to be the baseline for other endemic problems in the country, should be fundamentally addressed through the enforcement of the laws on corruption right from the investigation, prosecution and adjudication. Given this, we recommend capital punishment for established cases of grand corruption in the country in a non-partisan approach. 


  • Lastly, having a democratic mechanism where citizens can elect their representatives in a free, fair and credible electoral process is an essential condition to organized society and good governance. Such a process guarantees the trust of the citizens in elected leaders; engenders effective participation; enhances service delivery and ultimately delivers good governance. As a first step, President Muhammadu Buhari should sign into law the pending electoral reform Bill to be effective from the 2023 general elections. 


Dr. Mike Omilusi

Executive Director

INTRAPID, Africa

Email: intrapidafrica@gmail.com

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