A former Nigerian presidential candidate, Professor Kingsley Moghalu has said demonstrations for an end to police brutality and the #EndSARS protests across the country are a manifestation of a broader problem of bad governance in Nigeria and it’s one instance of a state that is marked by impunity, authoritarianism, and corruption.
Prof. Moghalu was a guest on ARISE News and said the issues that gave rise to the protests are just a phase of a character of the Nigerian state.
“There are from other parts of the spectrum demands for the constitutional restructuring of Nigeria and these are very fundamental issues because the question of whether there is good governance depends on the fundamental and structural nature of the Nigerian state.
“The Nigerian state is not structured today to be efficiently and effectively governed and that reflects itself in all sorts of things, impunity, we have a police force that is a machine of corruption, you have a police force whose only duty is to protect the regime and not the people, so we see a lot of foundational issues. They may not all be solved overnight but I think the young people are in control of their protest and I think they are doing something that is good for them and good for Nigeria,” said Moghalu, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He said the now-disbanded Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) was just a trigger to something much bigger and acknowledged that the protests have been peaceful so far, but there were attempts to hijack the demonstrations.
“The youths have kept it peaceful so far, I am aware of attempts to disrupt them using violence and thugs, and we must condemn that and to the extent, they keep their protests peaceful and focused I think it’s a good thing they have done for Nigeria and for themselves,”
Observers of the protests have said the demonstrations may lose steam if the demonstrating youths don’t choose leaders who will articulate and present their demands on the negotiating table with the federal government. Moghalu however believes the timing of such negotiations should be decided by the protesting youths.
“We should avoid thinking we know better than them, of always looking down on them, they know what they are doing. if you look at how organised this protest has been, they have made provisions for everything including charging their phones with solar-powered panels, for food, water. In just a week they have done what many parts of the Nigerian state have not been able to achieve for many years,” he said.
According to Moghalu, the protesters still don’t trust the government to meet their demands and want to see concrete steps taken at ensuring that those demands are met.
“There have been many panels of inquiry and commissions led by former Inspector-generals of police like M.D Yusuf and many other distinguished people that have investigated the problems of the Nigerian police and recommended systemic reforms of the force. What have we seen? Instead, we have seen SARS killing, brutalizing, and abusing these young people.
“Its long past time for these rote assurances, the young people want to see concrete steps, the government needs to be seen to be acting in good faith by meeting those demands and even going beyond them,” Moghalu said.
By Abel Ejikeme