#ENDSARS: President Buhari, you’re missing it, again

Your Excellency,

That you haven’t seen the urgency to address the nation over the outcry regarding police brutality is most unfortunate. You have missed opportunities in the past to show that you’re a leader we can look up to at critical moments. You’re missing it, again. Yes, we read your tweet but it didn’t say much. There was no shared meaning because it sharply contrasted with the yearnings of several thousands of youth across the country who had had enough of police brutality. The protests were a firm and unfaltering evidence that the youth, indeed Nigerians, are tired of being ‘Do-Nothingists’. “There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over…”. This is unmistakably one of such a time when Nigerians would rather sleep on the streets, be tear-gassed and shot at, than to continue putting up with indignities in their own country.

The youth have power. And for the first time in a long time, we used it. No violence; no political motivations; no pecuniary interests; just a consistent, untiring, and unyielding desire to be heard and an unquenchable passion to reject an entrenched social disorder in the name of ‘SARS’. The world got the message, and proudly joined in solidarity. For some reason, I'll like to believe that something was born in the Nigerian youth. No one should be mistaken; this is only the beginning of creative resistance to tyranny and injustice. You should be happy with this development. You have urged the nation with the 'Change-begins-with-me' message. The youth have just increased the volume of that message.

I must add that the #ENDSARS campaign must never be seen as an effort to condone crime. On the contrary, it is a struggle for the recognition of every Nigerian’s somebodiness; that every Nigerian has worth. It is a struggle for a Nigeria where innocent Nigerians don’t have to live in perpetual fear of the very institutions in which they should find solace and security. It is a struggle for a Nigeria that treats its future leaders with dignity and respect. By extension, it is the beginning of a youth-centric struggle for a Nigeria that the youth play an active part in. There is still a long way on this journey but I believe that the patriotic youth are concerned enough to understand the enormity of the tasks ahead.

To the pleasure of history, you are the man in charge now. By the time the story of this historic moment is written, those of us that witnessed, and contributed in some way, would glowingly remember the heroes. It’s not too late to etch your name in the council of those Nigerians. Your actions over the next few days may well guarantee that. Your people have asked you to address them. We shouldn’t be begging you to speak to us like some god we are trying to appease. We are asking you to do so as a public servant who enjoys the public mandate at this time. I have used 'we' because I am confident I speak the minds of many Nigerians on this issue. There are many times when your silence may be golden; this is not one of them.

As we go through this third week into our 61st year, I'll like to share a conviction. I believe 2020 is the year that many of us prayed about and looked forward to. Perhaps, this is a perfect independence gift: that the youth actually led. Before you is a great opportunity to rekindle the hope of many, empathize with the victims of police brutality (painfully, some are no longer here with us), and build a solid support of Nigerian youth for the Police Reform Act, and other institutional reforms, of your government. The youth are watching. The world is watching. I wish you the very best. And kindly accept this as another voice calling for an end to police brutality. Nigerian lives matter.

May God bless Nigeria.

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© 2020 Samuel Akinnuga.