Events over the past few days in general and in the last 24 hours in particular have left Nigerians in a state of disbelief. We commiserate with the bereaved. Under the circumstances however, we should have been prepared for the outcome if adequate efforts were made to really take proactive scenario-planning steps to analyze the Protest and the expected reactions from government. These are visionary and organized Nigerian Youth and their genuine actions and demands should and must be owned by the general public and even the business sector.
The 5-7 points demands from the Youth were very much in order and supported by majority of people . The absence of a targeted response from government rather than the general statement of Agreement and the absence of anyone to negotiate with ( a major cliche by the protesters) was bound to result in the stalemate that we witnessed. If the Government was sincere, it should have addressed the demands with projected timelines of action for each item.
It is essential that the Protests must continue albeit with a review of the methods (ways & means) to ensure a constant pattern of sustainability. The general public has to buy-in and join-in. The organizers should expect to be blocked by government and therefore have to organize to be mobile, fluid and disciplined.
•momentum is not sustainable over the medium term with the current continuous location-occupation model.
•The model should be to hit reasonably where it hurts but to leave a window open for the people to sustain their livelihood.
•A one-day weekly but fully disruptive protest activity is proposed whereby in Lagos for example, 5-6 designated locations are fully manned over a whole day. Such locations would be strategic as to be able to lockdown the city like in the current operation. Monday and Friday would not be good days as it leaves the populace with the option of zeroing their minds in on an uninterrupted 4 day work-week. The purpose is to disrupt economic activity. Once weekly would sustain the tempo, allow economic activities on the other days of the week and would not incite acts of violence. Same to be modified for other cities. The Hong-Kong model uses weekends for example .
•Government failed to provide protection for unarmed protests therefore it becomes incumbent on organizers and the public to provide a disciplined security detail such as use of Amotekun, OPC and other genuine vigilante etc as the case may be. This is to ensure that miscreants or fifth-columnists are kept off.
The Demands of the Protests would be better addressed by pressuring government to set up a Special Committee for each demand with specific performance and implementation timelines that shall be continually monitor-able. Such Committees must include, The Youth, Elders, civil society NGOs etc but be nimble and functional.
We propose that the following steps should immediately be considered going forward.
1.Setting up a clear Agenda and Deliverables with properly negotiated project timelines to address the Demands
2.Requesting for Justice and Accountability by investigating the State authourised Action to open fire with live-ammunition on unarmed protesters without the universal stepwise escalation of remediation procedures. The State failed to protect the unarmed Protesters and citizens while sustained sporadic fire continued till the next day
3.Demanding for adequate compensation to be awarded to all those unjustly physically and materially injured.
Dr Ladi Awosika
A medical Practitioner, wrote from Lagos.