By Lawanson Oluwatope
Lagos, Oct. 20, 2020 Sen. Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has appealed to youths to give peace a chance and call off the ongoing protest.
The APC leader made the appeal in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos, urging the youth to give government a chance to implement their demands.
According to him, the demands for fundamental police reforms by the protesting youths are in pursuit of our aspiration in our national anthem “to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign”.
He said that 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 is not one fit for free and decent people to live in.
“Such impunity and lawlessness are incompatible with the values and tenets of a democratic society governed by the supremacy of the rule of law.
“But then, the protesters must admit that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has acted with commendable dispatch by not only scrapping SARS but also accepting the five-point demand that triggered the protests.
“This shows a laudable sensitivity to the grievances of the youths. It is only fair that government must be given the chance to implement the reforms demanded by the protesters.
“This can certainly not be done instantaneously by the waving of a magic wand.
“If 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 government both of attitude and of a new sense of urgency.
“I appeal to them to call on their teeming followers to call off the protests for now and give peace a chance.
“You have made your point, government has made its commitment to you.
“Please, please and please call off the protests and give government a chance to implement your demands,” he said
The former Lagos governor commended the protesters for conducting themselves with an admirable sense of responsibility, restraint and maturity since the commencement of the civil action.
He noted that the high level of organisation demonstrated by the protesting youths showed a new level of consciousness of the capability of a vigilant civil society as well as the efficacy of people’s power.
He said that such demonstration could only ultimately strengthen the country’s democratic evolution and sustainability.
“Our current democratic dispensation was borne of struggle in response to the challenge of military dictatorship.
“The impunity of SARS was thus a challenge that the youth have responded positively and courageously to.
“It has also triggered the commencement of the fundamental reform of the country’s policing system,” he said
Tinubu noted that the protesters had made considerable gains within a very short period.
He, however, warned them to be careful not to fritter away such gains due to lack of moderation and strategic thinking.
He advised that 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.
“The fight for police reforms is surely to promote and protect the wellbeing of millions of Nigerians.
“It is a contradiction for the protesters to act in ways that will further worsen the economic well being of the very people they are fighting for.
“The intent of the organisers of the protests is to achieve stated objectives on police reform, which the government has in principle accepted.
“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.
“It can certainly not be their motive to cause generalized 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 constitutional rule,” Tinubu stressed.
He charged the APC to recommit itself to the values for which the party was formed through extraordinary hard work, dedication and commitment.
He said the party should 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 protests have forcefully demonstrated the reality and potency of people’s power and the new energy must be tapped and channeled to strengthen, not weaken the country’s democracy.
“Surely, the country cannot remain the same after this.
“The government has demonstrated its sensitivity to the demands of the youth and must now be supported to implement the reforms it has committed itself to,” he said
The APC leader commended Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and a number of other state governments for setting up judicial panels of inquiry into acts of police brutality over the years.
He urged other state governments which were yet to do so to follow suit and set a good example.
He said that the process of change should be supported and must not be done in an atmosphere of endless protests that are crippling an economy already enfeebled by the COVID-19 pandemic.