By Emmanuel Mogbede
Abuja, Oct. 22, 2020 Alhaji Salihu Lukman, Director General Progressive Governors Forum has called on the country`s political leaders to do everything possible to stop the #EndSARS protest from degenerating further.
He said this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja in his personal capacity, while reacting to the development, especially the burning of both government and private properties by alleged hoodlums in Lagos.
Lukman added that the situation was a wakeup call for the country`s political leadership to do the needful to assuaged the #EndSARS protesters and meet all of their demands.
“Crisis is always the test of leadership: that our dear nation is in crisis cannot be disputed, the crisis is already consuming precious lives of Nigerians, properties and assets of citizens and government are being destroyed.
“Unfortunately, responses from our political leaders are below public expectation.
“It is now a national imperative for all our political leaders, irrespective of partisan, ethnic, religious, gender or any other affiliation, to forge a strong national unity as a cardinal requirement for restoration of peace in the country.
“We are faced with emergency situation and every political leader should recognise that: in fact, political contest is only possible under conditions of peaceful atmosphere.
“As loyal members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and importantly as patriotic Nigerians, we need to appeal to our leaders, in particular President Muhammadu Buhari, to kindly and urgently hasten intervention,’’ he said.
The forum DG said such intervention could be done through appropriate civic engagement across every parts of the country to ensure restoration of peace in the federation.
He noted that the last few days of the #EndSARS protest had been periods of pains, especially as the legitimate and peaceful protest was hijacked by hoodlums.
According to Lukman, the unfortunate poor management of the protest led to the incidence of the night of Tuesday, October 20, 2020 in Lekki, resulting in the attack of innocent protesters.
This, he said, brought Lagos State under attack by rampaging and angry lawless crowd, who targeted and destroyed private and government structures, including the Palace of the Oba of Lagos, among many public structures.
“Our APC leaders, especially Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu are being threatened, resulting in the burning down of the house of the mother of Sanwo-Olu in Surulere, Lagos.
“As it is, Lagos is practically shut down by the crisis, before Lagos, Benin was similarly shut down.
“Earlier, on Oct. 17, 2020, there was attack on Mr Gboyega Oyetola, Governor of Osun by some criminal elements who penetrated the peaceful protest by our youth in Osogbo,’’ he said.
Lukman noted that part of the problem weakening federal initiatives was the inability of many, if not all the mandated ministries and agencies responsible for one form of intervention or the other to competently and effectively initiate needed responses.
He wondered why the Ministry of Police Affairs for instance, was unable to simulate good engagement strategy with young Nigerians calling for reform of the Nigeria Police Force.
He noted that if all government agencies and political appointees had handled their responsibilities as was expected, the crisis resulting from the #EndSARS protest would have been averted.
He added that the pressure on President Buhari to directly intervene in the situation would not have been the case as well.
“The crisis produced by the #EndSARS protest highlights the need for the President to urgently take steps to overhaul the machinery of government if our democracy and our government is to meet the expectation of citizens.
“It is the constitutional prerogative of the president to determine the best strategy and the details of governmental reforms aimed at overhauling the machinery of government to make them more effective in responding to the democratic needs of Nigerians, ‘’ the forum DG said.
He noted that what was going on in Lagos State could happen to any state and any leader in an affected state could experience same attack, if not worse.
He stressed that this must not be condoned, adding that political leaders across the country must show strong solidarity and rise in defence of the APC leaders and Government in Lagos State.
According to him: a threat to one; should be a threat to all.
Lukman added that all political leaders should appreciate that the situation, as much as it was damaging to the APC as a party, was more politically destructive to every of its leader.
“If care is not taken, we may as well be writing our names as a generation of political leaders into a national black book, the implication of that may not be apparent at the moment.
“We therefore need to appeal to all our leaders to please treat the current situation with the utmost urgency it requires.
“This is the time when our claims to selfless service as progressive politicians are being tested; our humanity, nationalism and patriotism are being questioned.
“There is no doubt that our leaders are up to the task, we just need to strongly convey our appeal coming from our depressed and helpless hearts,’’ he said.
Lukman also appealed to Nigerians, especially the young ones, to remain calm and not take laws into their hands.
He added that while invoking their inalienable rights to protest and struggle for better conditions in the country, they must also resist attempts by lawless people to take advantages of their actions to create anarchy.
He prayed God to enrich the wisdom of the country`s political leaders and guide them to take the necessary initiatives to restore normal life in every part of the country.