Nigeria: EndSARS - Time Is Running Out

22 October 2020

Since the end of World War II, there have been roughly 50 major revolutions that had either toppled autocratic regimes or led to significant political reform in "flawed" democracies. For those revolutions that have occurred under dictatorships, only about a third have resulted in transitions to democracy.

Two infamous cases that might raise some alarm bells about the Middle East today are the theocracy that followed Iran's 1979 revolution, and the "republican" dictatorships of Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak after Egypt's 1952 revolution. Similarly, the checkered political histories of post-revolutionary China, Cuba, Mexico and Russia might make even the most fervent revolutionaries take pause.

Still, the democracies that have managed to emerge in the aftermath of their revolutionary ferment provide cause for optimism. Less than a handful of those revolutionary transitions have reverted back to dictatorship. For every Kyrgyzstan, where there has been autocratic backsliding since the Tulip Revolution, there are a dozen examples of democracies that have arisen in the wake of revolution -- including surprises such as the Philippines.

The recent killings of protesters in Nigeria as a result of showdown between the security forces and the activists calling for the scrapping of a unit of Nigeria Police - Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has cast a dark cloud on what many had hoped would serve as a model for democratic transition in countries swept by the corrupt leaders and bad governance. The sad fact is that many revolutions lead to renewed dictatorships. But the good news is that even a rocky and prolonged transition can produce stable democracy.

The country is at the verge of a crossroad, again. The yarning of the citizens could not be overlooked and the leadership takes more time to discern the issues at hands with analytical mind. There are clear indications that Nigeria is now in the triumvirate of a colour revolution and hybrid warfare, and agent agitators are now trying to force the hand of the government towards employing violent suppression of the protests so as to delegitimize the government.

As a people, it is important to understand that, one should leave the stage when the ovation is loudest. The demands of the protesters are well appreciated and the leadership lacks quick response mechanism to show responsiveness which gives more opportunities for new adventure of calamities across the length and breadth of the country. One would conclude that this was a deliberate ploy to use people's legitimate demands to achieve a devilish agenda by some foreign nations and some local dissatisfied elites who are in the shadow.

This pattern has been used in various arenas where people's liberation movements have been used as a Trojan horse to infiltrate and destroy a nation. If care is not taken at the right time in proper quantity, a civil war is looming as it shows in our collective faces.

Unarguably, citizens are a powerful force for change. That is why more and more governments are doing what they can to silence them -- from Russia to China to Venezuela and more. Citizenship gives us sense of belonging on why oneness of voice in our society is so essential. When people are free to speak their minds and hold their leaders accountable, governments are more responsive and more effective. When entrepreneurs are free to create and develop new ideas, then economies are more innovative, and attract more trade and investment, and ultimately become more prosperous.

It was Barack Obama, former US President who said that "... If you want strong, successful countries, you need strong, vibrant civil societies. When citizens are free to organize and work together across borders to make our communities healthier, our environment cleaner, and our world safer, that's when real change comes".

Dear President Buhari, it is high time you summoned the courage and present error-free speech that would be televised to your children - Nigerian Youths. It is now a good time to avert the unknown calamities ahead of us. #ENDSARS does not just represent a protest against rogue Police officers; it is a symptom of the poor state of the economy, which for years has only gotten worse. Fortunately, the agitation can still be managed but time is running out.

Basheer Luqman Olarewaju,

Ilorin

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