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  • On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, we watched with horror and dismay as military officers, as it is now emerging on the invitation of Lagos State Government, invaded the Lekki Toll Plaza, centre of the #ENDSARS Movement, shooting live bullets into the crowd of unarmed youths. The deployment of soldiers against an admirably organized peaceful protest was preceded by the dismantling of some cameras (said not to be CCTV) and the turning off of its 24/7 near floodlight quality lighting. Clearly this suggested a premeditated decision to undertake some sinister acts under the cover of darkness and presumably without cameras. 
  • Governor Sanwo-Olu who before now has been credited with responsible and energetic response to the COVID 19 pandemic has by this one act lost his credibility and integrity for many. He has a big task in regaining the confidence of the public and the youths, His credibility gap surrounding what happened at the Lekki Toll Plaza is not helped by the insensitive bluster of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Governor’s residence stating that those who were injured and presumably those who died had questions to answer.  
  • The mindless destruction and looting of public and private business properties by the so-called hoodlums in the wake of the unwarranted violence visited on unarmed youths at Lekki only further confirms the alienation of a large number of our youths from organized society. The so-called hoodlums are the youths that have been denied any stake in the society by the self-dealing and state capture that have characterized governance over the last 30 years. Millions of our youths have been uneducated, unemployable and with no meaningful social safety net. Even for the millions who are educated and skilled, long term unemployment has been their experience in the Nigerian prebendal political economy that serves primarily the interests of public office holders and their cronies. 
  • The spontaneous participation of a large number of citizens, who are not looked at as hoodlums, with the so-called hoodlums across many states in Nigeria in looting the CACOVID warehouses speaks at one level to the grip of poverty on the land. It however also evidences the moral degeneration in the society in spite of our extravagant obsession with religion. Our morality lies in the physical structures of our churches, mosques and shrines. It seems not to have any bearing on our character and ethics. No level of poverty can ordinarily justify the looting (stealing) we saw; not even the perfidy of government officials who have been remiss in distributing the palliatives to the deserving in our midst. Nevertheless, our humaneness demands of us urgent addressing of the hunger in the land. Similarly, the destruction of business assets in Lagos and elsewhere needs immediate attention to prevent more unemployment as a result of the unfortunate incidents.
  • Some of the “hoodlums” responsible for the trashing of Lagos are the youths and “the toughies” that many politicians have over the years employed to subvert the democratic process through intimidation of voters and perpetration of violence during elections. The “area-boy” phenomenon in Lagos which is believed to feed this army of toughies have for years been allowed to set up “protection rackets” extorting money from businesses and individuals. They collect levies on movement of assets within the city, often with the benign indulgence of government and law enforcement agencies. Apparently, no-one wanted to shut down their racket to prevent the “Area Fathers” from challenging the rackets of those in office. 
  • To our traditional rulers, religious, political, business and professional leaders, we will be setting ourselves up for even greater future cataclysmic eruption of the masses if we do not draw the right lessons from the events of the last three weeks. Some things are clear:
    • Our youths are alienated from the society
    • Many of our youths are disconnected from our history and have no appreciation for historical iconic monuments
    • We are not attentive to the pains and aspirations of our youths
    • Too many amongst us have no stake in the society
    • We have not shown enough empathy for the weak in our country
    • We have lost our moral compass as a society
  • We cannot solve all these problems overnight but we can start addressing them with sincerity and the urgency they deserve. There are short term and other long-term options: 


  • Lagos needs emergency aid to rebuild; pooling together co-ordinated efforts to be led by the financial services sector (banking and insurance industries) with Federal and State Government support to restore the losses suffered by Government and private businesses  
  • Local, State and Federal Government must put together emergency training and empowerment programmes based on data collected at the Local Government level instead of the current centralized internet-based registration which may not reflect the range of local needs and may restrict accessibility. While money is important, it also does not solve all problems, Skills and knowledge often amplify results of well targeted financial empowerment.
  • The medium and long term imperative is the acceleration of the efforts to transform Nigeria’s investment climate and the design of policies and programmes that can markedly increase the attractiveness of Nigeria economy for long term investment (concomitantly, savings) to grow rapidly the capacity and the productivity of the economy in agriculture and manufacturing and services in an integrated manner.
  • All these must be anchored on a resolve to rebuild of our national moral code and character. Everyone is guilty. Those who are not active participants in governance must, on sober reflection, admit that their silence and inactivism against various acts of inequity, injustice, abuse of office, abuse of power, state capture and looting of the Treasury by an endless list of Government officials at Local, State and Federal levels, are complicit. At the base of the myriad of problems facing Nigeria is the apparent acceptance of corruption as a way of life. It debases governance and erodes confidence of the people in Government; perverting justice and stunting economic growth. We can no longer ignore the corrosive effects of pervasive corruption on the country.  It is a national cancer driving more and more Nigerians of all ethnicity, religion, educational levels and skills into abject poverty and despair. The increasing numbers of the poor has now earned us the dubious title of the poverty capital of the world. Staying this course can only breed larger numbers of angered and malcontent citizens with no stake in an orderly peaceful society. Setting and entrenching a new moral and ethical code first amongst the leaders especially public officers is an URGENT AND IMMEDIATE TASK TO BE DONE. We must therefore all unite to set and propagate a new moral code for the country. 
  • Without this, the tradition of government being for the maintenance of the opulent lifestyle of our public officials cannot be stopped. More galling and provocative is the penchant of Government officials and their “nouveau riche” creations to publicly flaunt their unearned and immorally acquired wealth. The visible, sudden and dramatic transformation of the lifestyles of many, once appointed to public office and their hangers-on, have gone a long way in undermining the work ethic of the society. Many now seek their own short cuts to wealth through politics and if not possible, crime. Hard work is despised. Everyone now believes that public office is the shortest route to financial success. Public office must therefore be made less attractive and much more difficult to abuse public office.
  • It was amusing to watch politicians denying ownership of one property or the other in the wake of the rage of the hoodlums. A more transparent system of accountability of public office holders and their assets would have prevented the circulation of rumours of their illegitimately acquired assets. From where we are today, it is time to require of all public office holders, public declaration of their assets on appointment and on exit. This must be supported by public declaration of annual income and tax. Widespread belief of citizens of large-scale corruption amongst public officeholders demands we require from all those who volunteer to serve, to show the service is not at the expense of the public. In this way we can restore public confidence in our public officers. Those who do not want to abide by the new transparency requirements should stay in private life. They will not be missed.


  • The best of our youths brought us out of our smugness with the #EndSARS protests. They made us proud as parents with their management of the protests: organized, peaceful, resourceful, transparent, and accountable. They exemplified everything some in the older generation had always preached but never able to demonstrate in public life. To that extent they deserve our commendation. What many have identified as the weakness in their strategy – lack of a leadership structure and unclear endgame plan to negotiate – must be understood in the context of our governments’ historical penchant to intimidate, compromise and failing that, to criminalise every confrontation with their critics or invented enemies. Indeed, even before the Lekki Toll Plaza shooting, government and many of its sympathisers had allegedly attacked the unarmed peaceful protesters hoping to create the excuse to label the protesters, violent. They failed. The protesters noting that the Police had offered practically no protection from the attackers had organized their own private security. Those who attacked them were overpowered by their numbers, disarmed, treated for their wounds and even fed, The assailants identified their sponsors while some others were believed to belong to a rogue union known as an enforcement arm of a political godfather. It is not known if any of the assailants of the youth protests have been arrested by the Police.
  • Rather there are now growing reports of compilation of names of the assumed leaders and facilitators of the protests for Government reprisals. Those that are being targeted are reportedly being prevented from travelling outside Nigeria while accounts of some have been frozen. This is hardly the hallmark of a democratic government that is interested in dialoguing with the youths or learning positive lessons from the #EndSARS protests. It is also a violation of the spirit of Government’s acceptance of the 5 for 5 agenda. The President is should stop all these witch-hunting exercises. 
  • The resort to reprisals falls in line with the increasing direct and sometimes veiled attempts by many groups and surprisingly by some usually respectable leaders to ethnicise or create regional cleavages out of the #EndSARS protests. In spite of the settled fact that the #EndSARS protests had nothing to do with the destruction and looting of government properties and looting of COCAVID warehouses and the various criminal acts that followed the shooting at Lekki, some of these individuals and groups continue to strain to associate the criminal acts with the protests. 
  • The latest by some traditional rulers and Governors from Northern Nigeria which also threw in allegations of a phantom regime change agenda are not only unfortunate, they are sinister. It is alarming that such weighty allegations can be suggested with such facility against the organisers of the youth protests. It is ironic that comments on a protest that had support from a wide-range of educated youths across Nigeria could suddenly be turned into an opportunity to assert a hypocritical declaration of indissolubility of Nigeria and commitment to democracy by a gathering that by its very composition was a statement in sectionalism, The group also advanced its commitment to democracy though one could not count amongst them any of those who fought for the democracy that they currently enjoy. It is a hollow assertion. What was not said is the emerging consensus by Nigerians for a fairer and more just federation making Nigeria a more compellingly attractive country for all irrespective of ethnicity, language or religion. Raising the bogey of a secessionist agenda is clearly a reactionary hold-out by politicians afraid of an awakened youth power that could threaten the status quo. Traditional rulers need to be wary of these politicians who thrive on sowing discord to preserve their hold on power.


  • Without a shadow of doubt, a negotiated and orderly wind-down of the protests would have been salutary for the society. While the youths may bear some responsibility for this, it is clear that Government’s lack of integrity in past encounters with other groups, like ASUU created for it a credibility gap with the youths. Its resort to violence triggered the chaos that followed. This Government needs to learn to be more humble, attentive and responsive in its engagement with citizens especially the youths. That is democracy. 
  • The hysteria of Government and its continuing efforts to control social media, taken along with the attempt to visit reprisals on the #EndSARS protesters give cause for concern as to its commitment to democracy and the guarantee of our rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution. In this wise, citizens need to be vigilant, lest we get pushed into a totalitarian society. Many of the supporters of this Government would be happy to make zombies of us all. It will never happen. NEVER AGAIN!

Olutola O. Mobolurin
For and On Behalf of  FSD Association (Federal Social Democrats)

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