By Godwin Amunde
The Director General, Progressive Governors Forum, (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman, have said that in order to address the ongoing “EndSARS” protest across the country, there was need for review of government welfare initiatives and ensure provision of specific packages targeting young people, in addition to meeting the specific demands of protest.
He stated this in a statement in his personal capacity and made available to newsmen on Sunday, in Abuja.
Lukman said the current protest around #EndSARS is proof that Nigerian youths are troubled, and they are at the receiving end of all the trouble the country is facing.
“In many respects, the protests highlighted deficit in terms of government initiatives meeting the expectations of Nigerian young people. Such deficit could emanate from poor communication strategy, he said.
“In order to address the problem, there is the need for government to immediately review implementation of government welfare initiatives and ensure provision of specific packages targeting young people, in addition to meeting the specific demands of the #EndSARS protests.”
The PGF DG noted that the youth have woken up to the challenge of political engagement to address problems affecting them and have taken over the streets and the airwaves.
“At best, government and all of us actively involved in politics are doing catch up. For more than a week, across all our media, both locally and internationally, news about Nigeria is all around the protest by our young people. The protest is very popular, and the leadership appears very determined to continue with the protest.
“Being the party in government, are we going to painstakingly work for democratic resolution? Or are we going to opt for authoritarian measures to end the protests?
“The options are daring and challenging.
“Interestingly, the organisation of the protest doesn’t make these options any easier. With amorphous leadership, the protest is taking all the advantages of modern technology to earn the trust and confidence of all sections of Nigerian youths.
“The trust has enabled them to mobilise funding, and they are deploying it to provide welfare services to the protesters. At another level, it will also appear that our young people have found themselves stranded such that by the amorphous nature of their leadership, they are unable to effectively negotiate their demands with government.
“Some of the conventional protest leaders have been chased away by the protesters. In the absence of recognised leaders, how can government engage or negotiate with the protesters?
“How can government win the trust and confidence of our young people and get them to vacate the streets?
“The message from our young people is that there are challenges that require political responses. Police brutality, insecurity, unemployment, etc. are contending political issues. Citizens’ participation in responding to these challenges is a critical requirement to win the trust of Nigerians regarding initiative of government,” he said.