The President, Muhammadu Buhari has on Sunday urged the #EndSARS protesters across the country to leave the streets and dialogue instead.
According to the president, it is imperative for the protesting youths to realise that protests cannot last indefinitely.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello who represented the president spoke at the maiden National Youth Day programme with the theme “Invest in the youth, secure our future” held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Titled, “President Buhari to Nigeria youths: End street protests, dialogue with government on police reforms”, Buhari said that after the protests, what the Federal Government wants to hear now are “concrete and practical ideas” from the youths.
Speaking on the constitutional right of the youth to peaceful protests, Buhari said the youth needed to stop the protests before forces and actors would take over the protests in order to redirect them in ways the youth did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.
Part of the statement read, “You must realise that protests cannot last indefinitely. My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you.
“However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.”
Continuing, the president added that every successful protest movement the world over has understood that there comes a time when activity must move from the street to the negotiation table. “That time for you has come. Do not be afraid of this reality. You should welcome it.”
“It is important that we all strive to use this moment constructively. Too many people have already sacrificed too dearly. It is our duty to use this fateful situation to move ourselves to a more just and caring society,” says the President.
As youths, Buhari hinted, you have a nation and a future to build. My government will always be your faithful partner in this essential and patriotic endeavour.
While maintaining that it is wrong to use violence to disperse peaceful protesters, the president further warned against using security agents to brutalise such peaceful protesters.
Accordingly, the President hinted that to allow protests is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and belief in democracy.
He emphasised, “To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people.
“This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people toward a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge,” he was quoted saying.
No one who is obeying the law, Buhari stressed, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalised by law enforcement agencies.
He noted that it is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that they moved with dispatch to abolish SARS and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.
In the words of the president, Nigerian youths are agents for social change, economic growth and sustainable development. He added that his regime has established no fewer than 25 initiatives aimed at empowering youths across the country.
While outlining that the initiatives aimed at placing Nigerian youths on the path of career development, entrepreneurship, skills development and direct employment, he emphasised, “Today, we will unveil the official logo of the N75bn Nigeria Youth Investment Fund for the period of 2020–2023”.
He said, “This novel fund is dedicated to investing in the innovative ideas, skills and talents of Nigerian Youths and to provide our youths with a special window to access much-needed financing, business management skills and other inputs critical for sustainable enterprise.”
As stated in the release, the president disclosed that over one million applications have already been received since the Youth Investment Fund Portal went live on October 12 this year.
The president, however, reiterated his call for national unity, adding that Nigerian youths are better positioned to drive the indivisibility of Nigeria and collectively overcome whatever challenges bedeviling the nation.
“On this special occasion, we affirm our faith and confidence in the indivisible entity called Nigeria and in its future.
We face many challenges but, in you, this nation has the collective ability and drive to overcome that which confronts us,” he encouraged.Follow us on social media