#EndSARS: How Young Nigerians Can Use the Protests for Political Action

There is work to be done!

The demand for good governance, end of police brutality, and respect for human rights reached a tipping point on October 20, 2020. On that fateful when the protest was already in the third week, the Nigerian government ordered soldiers to the Lekki Toll Gate and the commanding officers asked his men to open fire on peaceful young protesters. That event caused a change in me but that is another day’s story.

That demand for a better country has been received differently by the government using brute force against innocent citizens exercising their fundamental rights. Today is February 13, 2021, another protest was staged against the decision of the government to reopen Lekki Toll Gate where people were killed last year. The panel of inquiry is still on.

Ideally, a protest is a peaceful way to make your demands known. You run for the number of days you choose hoping that the receiving institution we respond in action to the demands being made. However, such institutions might not be able to respond to all demands or might not be willing to do so. For the case of the Nigerian government, are they willing to carry out constitutional reforms that will go on to affect other areas of governance in the country? These reforms have been described severally as Restructuring the country. Most Nigerians believe that fiscal and true federalism will be a jumpstart for the country in dealing with the many woes facing us; social, political, and economic.

The Nigerian government as of today has shown that it is not willing to carry out these reforms that this country might live. The political elite class is unwilling to change the status quo that many of them now benefit from.

So, what should the future generation of leaders who are now largely frustrated do to save the country and ensure a better posterity?

1. Join a Political Party/Movement. This has been mentioned severally by different people and there is no gainsaying how important this is. Every Nigerian has a duty to the country to do their part for the good and greatness of the country. Yes, there are better ways to contribute your part, however, it has been proven that political leadership remains the bane of economic prosperity for all Nigerians. Nigerian politics is populated by the worst of us while the best of us stay on the sideline to criticize and proffer solutions that the political leadership is not willing and able to implement. At every turn of a new republic or milestone in our country, the best brains have been known to remain on the sideline while the ones who have nothing to offer jump at the opportunity to control our commonwealth.

I know there are challenges of breaking the status quo in politics, which I will talk about later in this piece. But the first strategy is for all who are concerned and truly angry to join a political party.

2. Raise Candidates. I strongly believe that getting more youths or new faces into politics has to be strategic. While more people need to get into politics, the end goal should be getting the right people to run for office. The number of elective positions is between 500 to 700 seats or at most 1,000 people. Nigeria needs only to get the right 1,000 people into elective offices for things to start taking a good turn for our country. It is these 1,000 people that will handle the different appointments at various levels. While the strategy of the protests has been to be without leaders, the need for political capital will require individuals who can go for us. And about choosing people, I know we can get more than half of that number who can represent us in the State Assemblies, House of Representatives, Senate, and more. Even if we are unable to get the Executive Positions like the Presidency or Governorship, we can infiltrate the legislative bodies where laws are made. It is the best place to start. Choose the right candidates across the states and we are doing this in the spirit of the protest as one group of Nigerians seeking to deliver our country in a practical more way.

3. Raise Funding: Imagine if young Nigerians can start a weekly contribution of 1,000 naira a week. How many are we again? 100 million? We need to understand that our numbers do not represent unemployment or underemployment alone. We can commit to raising the funding required to select the right candidates, buy party tickets and forms for them, build structures across the country, run campaigns, and win some seats. We must understand that one major impediment to young people running for office is finance and campaign funding. I can remember vividly that some political parties in 2019 deliberately raised the price of their forms just to limit the people that will be able to afford them. This affected mostly young people; some had to drop out of the race. This is a system built and designed to exclude others but make way for those they want and the highest bidders. So, funding drives elections. With massive funding, a structure that could have taken four years to build can be built in lesser time.

4. Mobilize support of Nigerians. This should be the most important part of this whole process. There is a need to convince Nigerians to choose who and what the young people are presenting as candidates and manifestoes. I must say this; with the past leaders have performed since Independence convincing Nigerians to support you or vote you or come and vote will be very tough. Many and many have lost confidence in the electoral process and the country as a whole. What most care about is how to survive, take care of their families and serve their God. The fate of the country now lies with the bad leaders who don’t know the consequence of the path they are taking us to. So, mobilization is important and must be done aggressively. What will be our message to people who have been impoverished to the point of hopelessness?

It is important to note that these things require are easier said and require action and deliberate action. If I am not wrong, the protest, the strategy, and zeal with which it was pursued has been commendable and can be replicated to get political power. The power we have now to lead protests will further pitch us against a government and leadership that doesn’t want to be resisted but we can resist them in an election.

I like to believe that the election of 2015 was one of the same generations winning and losing to another and they understand each other’s weaknesses and strengths. On the other hand, what we are trying to achieve is a younger, weaker, and growing generation contesting power with an old, experienced, stronger, and a powerful generation that is not ready to leave the centre stage yet or forcefully.

There is work to be done!

Architect | Writer | NDT Inspector | Rope Access Technician