I sympathise with Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State who in spite of his valiant effort at finding solution to the demands of the EndSARS protesters continues to experience stress and strain. Tarred with the same brush of mistrusts as President Buhari who has credibility deficit on account of his failure to implement his party policies or apply reasoning towards resolving the killer herdsmen, open grazing and bandits crises, Sanwo-Olu has become a target of anti-Buhari political enemies across the nation.
I am sure Sanwo-Olu realizes he was target of misplaced aggression. He therefore during his last week’s emotion-laden broadcast appealed to the good people of Lagos to read in between the lines while warning those “treating their own prejudices as deeper truths instead of the superficial lies they are”, choosing to take perverse delight in playing unhelpful games of cynicism and suspicion and clinging to beliefs that do not carry the weight of verifiable evidence.”
And what are the facts?
By allowing the EndSARS protesters locate their camps at Government House, Alausa and Lekki Toll Gate was evidence enough that Lagos State government identified with their cause. That the governor’s dialogue with the youths resulted in his serving as their ambassador carrying their demands to Abuja was also no doubt evidence of the youths’ confidence in his sincerity. That Sanwo-Olu outwitted the president’s anti-reasoning ‘loyal gate keepers’ including Malami, without whom the president cannot breathe and secured victory for the youths with the president acceding to all the youths demand including the dismantling of notorious SARS was also historic.
But all Buhari’s foes who were caught unawares by Sanwo-Olu’s breakthrough did was to focus on Buhari’s credibility deficit to lionize our largely uninformed youths who did not understand the social and economic implications of shutting down Lagos that provides daily succor for millions of unskilled workers who will starve if caged for a week. In addition, Buhari’s political foes mischievously focused on how much revenue the managers of the LTG was cornering every day, forgetting to remind our impressionable youths that it was suicidal to lock down Lekki which is not only home to Dangote Refinery, the biggest in the world but also harbours the Lekki Free Trade zone and provide safe havens for le crème de la crème of Nigerian elite including mega bank and multi-media owners, retired Generals, industry chiefs and top bureaucrats whose laws are our laws.
At two weeks, the owners of society started to see the LTG siege as a nuisance. Unfortunately, because the siege was led by amorphous group of our talented artists/musicians whose role in society cannot be underestimated but unarguably no substitute for social engineers, ‘the salt of life’ without whose efforts society decays, expectedly ended in confrontation with police and the soldiers, controlled by owners of society through the state. Then the hypocritical media and their sponsors that had expected ‘massacre’ started shouting massacre without waiting for evidence.
Governor Sanwo-Olu worked the night moving from hospital to hospital to confirm the number of deaths but he announced with relief the following morning that there was no massacre. But quoting social media terrorists, journalists including CNN from far away Atlanta continued to insist hundreds of imaginary massacred bodies were secretly carted away by military vehicles. Buhari’s political enemies, victims of selective perception with imaginary figures of casualties in their heads rejected the governor’s report.
The governor who had originally inaugurated a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate allegations of police brutality committed by the disbanded SARS in the state, saying ‘as a matter of good faith and a sincere commitment to uncovering the truth of what happened on October 20, 2020, “constituted a panel of individuals that we believed were independent, credible, and representative of the various stakeholders with a respected jurist as chairman”.
The tainted report of the panel was leaked to the press by its pro massacre members who seem to have hijacked the panel to satisfy the long held view that Buhari’s administration is evil, anti-people and likely prone to covering up the massacre of the nation’s youths. Elaborate interviews were held and threats were issued against those who will question their own colour of the truth so that the official release of the white paper only becomes nothing but a fait accompli to consolidate old prejudices and lies.
While admonishing those who ‘take perverse delight in playing unhelpful games of cynicism and suspicion’ Sanwo-Olu insisted that the decision of his government would be based entirely on the law, the weight of evidence and an unblemished respect for the truth”. He thereafter released government white papers which declared that “The inconsistencies and contradictions in the entire JPI report concerning the number of persons, who died at LTG on 20th October 2020, and their cause of death rendered the JPI’s findings and conclusions thereon as totally unreliable and therefore unacceptable.”
For instance even while the JPI attested to the fact that there was nothing contrary to that of Professor Obafunwa, that only one person died at LTG of gunshot wounds on October 21, 2020, names of nine protesters allegedly killed sprang up on pages 297-298 without the JPI offering explanation regarding circumstances of their deaths. And the JPI Report also went on to award compensation to only one out of the alleged nine listed as ‘deceased’, which showed that the JPI itself had doubts as to the deaths of eight”. An explanation by a member that the employment of the word ‘massacre’ was supported by its dictionary meaning and not by evidence only brought more obfuscation.
Again our youths have some lesson to learn from the EndSARS debacle. First, Buhari is not responsible for the misery of our youths. Soludo back in 2013 had warned that whoever took over from Jonathan would face the current crisis. The challenge before Buhari in 2015 therefore was to resolve our political crisis, the source of our economic woes. For frittering such a unique opportunity, he has a date with history.
Those egging on the youths to fight Buhari on the basis of his credibility deficit and those manufacturing ‘massacre’ to take over Lagos are jointly responsible for our youths’ misery. It was they who in the name of Babangida’s commercialization policy sold public enterprises that once guaranteed jobs for our young graduates to their cronies. The same privileged group during Obasanjo’s presidency jettisoned both the World Bank recommendations and example of privatisation in France and Britain and sold government interest in the banks, communication, media, hospitality business, airlines, insurance oil companies to themselves. Driven only by greed, the new owners today pay their workers who are mostly casual workers slave wages. Like in other business concerns seized from the state, the privileged elite, who are today exploiting Buhari’s mismanagement of our crisis of nation building to divert attention from their criminal conspiracy against our youths, are the same people that live like princes spending billions that should have been spent on workers welfare including gratuities in the name of profit.
Secondly, the youths who cannot give what they don’t have must study hard to understand the nature of our problems. The federal system the country eventually adopted was the brainchild of 20 Nigerian law students in 1920. Those who carried out the revolution in the West were youths who did not only understudy how their forbears managed society by becoming chiefs, they were involved in intensive intellectual engagement to come up with alternative policy thrusts in order to outwit NCNC, the dominant party in the West and to convince the colonial powers they were ready for self-government.