Alhaji Salihu Lukman, Director-General, Progressive Governors’ Forum, has called on the political class and leaders to view the #EndSARS protests as a clarion call for the improvement of welfare of Nigerians.
He made the call in a statement on Monday in Abuja, adding that the Federal Government and sub-national entities could not afford to ignore the demands by the youth.
Lukman stated that the protest should be seen as an opportunity to enthrone radical policies defined by commitment to principles of social change as a panacea to the ongoing #EndSARS protests in parts of the country.
He said: “The protest and its popularity among our young people are indication of the urgency for our politics to become more responsive and oriented to attract wider citizen’s participation.
“It is a proof that Nigerian youths are troubled and are at the receiving end of all the troubles faced by the country.
“In many respect, the protests highlighted deficit in terms of government initiatives to meet the expectations of Nigerian young people.
“Such deficit could have emanated from poor communication strategy.”
He noted that to address the problems, there was the need for the government to immediately review the implementation of its welfare initiatives.
Lukman said government should ensure the provision of specific packages targeted at young people in addition to meeting the specific demands of the #EndSARS protesters.
The PGF D-G noted that Nigerian youths had woken up to the challenge of political engagement to address problems affecting them and had taken over the streets of major cities in the country and the airwaves.
He identified the protest as very popular, adding that its leadership appeared to be very determined to continue with it.
According to him, the protest is taking advantage of all the modern technology to earn the trust and confidence of all Nigerian youth.
This trust and confidence, he said, had enabled the protesters’ leadership to mobilise funding and deploy such fund to provide welfare services to the protesters.
Lukman said the protest was an indication that Nigerian youths had found themselves stranded and unable to effectively negotiate their demands with the government.
He explained that some of the conventional leaders of the protest had been chased away by the protesters and one wondered how government could engage or negotiate with the protesters in the absence of recognised leaders.
He said: “As a party, we should take steps to harvest all the goodwill that we have, this is in fact the point when APC should be able to demonstrate its political sophistication.
“If there has been any point where our national reality has presented APC and our leaders with an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to bring about change in the country, this protest by our young people presents such an opportunity.
“It is such a defining opportunity that must be handled with caution as it can potentially consolidate or completely erode APC’s electoral advantages especially with 2023 in the horizon.”
He added that the APC must resist seeing the #EndSARS protest as being influenced by political opponents.
Lukman, however, said the Federal Government should be commended for affirming the inalienable rights of Nigerians to freely protest as provided in the 1999 Constitution.
He further added that Nigerian youths should similarly be commended for successfully exercising their rights as guaranteed by the laws.