#EndSARS: Starting with a wrong premise

By Kingsley Omose| If your starting premise is wrong then even if you apply the right methodology of argument when writing a thesis or putting forward a proposition, your conclusion would be wrong.

The wrong starting premise here is that the recent #EndSARS protest was hijacked by hoodlums, the implication being the protests should have ended once the five point demand of the protesters had been granted by FG.

This delay, it is being hinted allowed the hoodlums to step in and as it were to unleash the devastation and accompanying looting witnessed largely in Lagos and to some extent in Benin City and Warri.

A volcano does not erupt overnight, these protests albeit not endorsed or welcomed, have been a long time coming and until you have been to a distressed community in Lagos or other parts of Nigeria, you cannot imagine what residents suffer.

I remember making solicitations in this regard for Orile-Iganmu, a distressed community in Lagos to be helped in overcoming it’s nonexistent infrastructure and skills empowerment for it’s young persons in 2007.

I remember Sonala Olumense got my write up published in the Guardian in April.2007, under the title, A Tour of Hell, but there was largely silence from the private sector while the Lagos State Government tarred the Opeloyeru Road in the community.

Other than that there was nothing done to empower the young residents of the community and those conditions that we warned against then in Orile-Iganmu are still very much around and have now matured.

We had to team up with a local group to form the Orile-Iganmu Progressive Association to tackle the youth empowerment aspect with help from friends such as Promasidor, Kinabuti and BASF West Africa amongst others.

Over the last 12 years our efforts have yielded great dividends in Orile-Iganmu community but have been like a drop in an ocean, and when you consider other distressed communities, the situation is alarming.

These hoodlums who stepped into hijack the protests are the real #EndSARS Nigerians who have finally come to the table and they have come on their own terms and are not ready to negotiate unlike those who were at the Lekki Toll Plaza..

You either engage with them or make the same mistakes that Muhammadu Buhari and other State Governors are making in assuming the protests were hijacked by hoodlums who have no cause other than to destroy and loot.

The situation had gotten to boiling point for these young Nigerians and #EndSARS protests only gave an opportunity for these disadvantaged Nigerians to vent and the results have shocked the unaware.

Sadly for those regarded as comfortable Nigerians, affluence and abject poverty live side by side in many Nigerian cities that is why places like Lagos, Warri and Benin City have borne the brunt of the damage.

As we ended up doing over 12 years ago and we continue to do, the solution is to engage with the youths as we have been doing through initiatives such as Orile-Iganmu Progressive Association.

Government prefers infrastructure projects to youth empowerment schemes especially those that teach skills to young people and build their capacities but this is the way to go.

Lagos is made up over 70% of communities like Orile-Iganmu where these disadvantaged Nigerians live in close proximity to other affluent communities.

If both public and private sectors do not engage these distressed communities, their residents especially young persons will come out as they have done this week with increasing devastation.

Covid-19 and the global economic crisis has worsened life both among the comfortable and the disadvantaged and we all need to smell the coffee and realise we are all at risk.

Kingsley Omose, a public policy analyst contributed this article from Lagos

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