END SARS Protests: What Buhari Did Not Say In His Speech

By Lateef Lawal

 Babagana Munguno, a retired Army Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA, may have raised the hope of Nigerians,  when he said that what President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General,  would say  in his speech on Thursday, October, 22, 202,  would be   agreeable to all.

As a prelude to addressing  the  nation on the END SARS Protests, which had entered its third week,  the Katsina born Nigerian President was said to have  had held various levels of Consultations including holding meetings with the  National Security Council, NSC,members, which include Gabriel Olonisakin, an Army General an Chief of Defense  Staff, CDS, who was said to have  led the Service Chiefs to the meeting. 

Based on the briefing on the security situation in the country and the END SARS  protests, by the security Chiefs of the various security agencies including Yusuf  Magaji Bichi, Director General, Department of State Security and Mohammed Adamu, Inspector General of Police, IGP, he had finally  broken his silence on the evening of  Wednesday, October 21, 2020.  Given the importance attached to the speech, many people had  remained glued to their televisions to listen to the Commander –In – Chief, C-IN-C, of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, leadership, were disappointed that the Katsina state born Nigerian President  did not allude   to the soldiers that had shot at the crowd of over 1,000, END  Special Anti-robbery Squad, SARS, Protesters at Lekki Toll Gate allegedly killing over 10  persons and injuring many. Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos state governor, who is still making efforts to warm himself back to the  heart of the Youths   because  of the way he had handled the crisis, had said confirmed  that 28 protesters who received bullet wounds  were rushed to three different  Hospitals in the state .

Buhar And Jonathan At The Villa

 The question on the  lips of the PDP Nationall Executive Council , NEC,  members,was: where did the soldiers  who shot at protesters at  Lekki Toll Gate come from and   who gave them the  order to shoot at the Innocent protesters carrying the Green White Green Flag of the country  singing at their Converging point at the Lekki  Toll Gate.  

The worry of the PDP NEC, was that he had paid  tribute  to the officers of the Nigerian Police Force , NPF, who were said to  have tragically lost their lives  in the END SARS protests but failed to acknowledge the  proters  gunned down by  armed uniform men. ‘’ Let  me pay  tribute   to  officers of the NPF, who had lost their lives in the line of duty, he had said.

 In apparent reaction  to  the  much expected Presidential speech, some of the protesters  had tweeted  had individually  that  the President’s speech  had clearly shown that he does not care about what happens to them.

But  the  retired Army General would not agree with them.    He may have  told the Youths, going by  his speech , if we don’t , care for you, we could not have looked at your demands, let alone give Concessions.’’ We listened  to and carefully  evaluated  the five-point demand of   the protesters’, he had said ‘’.  He had cited  the  scrapping of SARS and measures put in place  to address  other demands of the aggrieved Youths.  He was said  to  have  reiterated  his  Administration  Commitment   ‘’to the implementing  of  an extensive police reforms and improved Welfare for the officers.

True to his words, improving police welfare, he was said to have already directed the National  Salaries, come  and Wages Commission, NSIWC,  ‘’to expedite  action  on the finalization  of the new  salary  structure  of members of the NPF, which had been in the cooler over the years.

  Many believe that without the protesting Youths making improved police welfare as one of their demands, the President  may  not have remembered to do so. This is the more reason, why security experts  had said that Adamu, the IGP and his officers had to be grateful t the protests for achieving the feat for them with little or no effort on their part.

The Buhari led All Progressive Congress, APC, governmentmay have  also initiated  measures to accommodate the Youths, including  the women  and the most vulnerable groups in the society as a way to bring to the END SARS protests to an end.

END SARS Protesters With Security Operatives

According to him,  these included the broad  plan to lift  100 million Nigerians   out of poverty in the next 10 years, the creation of  a N75  billion  Youth Investment Fund , YIF, to provide  opportunities  for the Youths  and the  Micro, Small and Medium  Scale Enterprises, MSME, Survival Fund.. He had said that with the Fund, the government  would be able to pay three month –salaries  of the Staff  of 100,000 MSME.

He may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians  when he said the government would undertake the  payment of the Registration  of 250,000 businesses  at the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, and given a grant of N30,000.00  to  artisans  and guaranteeing  market  for the products of the traders. Other initiatives of the government to bring the country out of the wood include  Farmermoni, Tradermoni, Marketmoni, N-Power,  N-Tech and N-Agro.

Good as the Poverty-Alleviation measures could be, there are fears that it may be sabotaged by those who  may not want the APC  government to succeed. They cited the COVID 19, palliatives of money,  rice and other food items which ought to be shared to the poor by was diverted by a few individuals.

 With the END of  SARS protests, a 60 x60 warehouse had been discovered around Maza area of Lagos state where the COVID 19 food provided by the government for the poor in the state had been hidden. The speed at which desperate Nigerians were said to have   rushed the warehouse t when it was thrown open to park the food items speaks volume: hunger in the land.  This is where the Nigerian President may have to engage the services of CONSULTs to handle the disbursement of the Support Funds to the Youths and MSMEs instead of allowing the governors to handle it as it would  not get to the real people it was meant for.

Aware of the turn of events in the country that hoodlums had hijacked the protest, the END SARS protesters may have agreed to be Calm in their various  Converging  point  and monitor how the government is responding to their demands.

Following  the unfolding  the END of SARS  Protests which had claimed many lives and property worth billions of naira,  a group of  Patriotic Nigerians had made  some  demands which must be met by the government  in order to end the crisis that had engulfed the country over the last three weeks.

Anti-riot Policemen

One of such demands for the government to identify  and arrest   the persons  that gave instructions  for the soldiers  to shoot at protesting  Youths at Lekki Toll Gate, on Tuesday, October 20, 2020,  Institute  an Independent  Inquiry  on  the events  at Lekki Toll  Gate leading to the use of live bullets and lethal weapons  on protesters and the apparent use  thugs or hoodlums by  security operatives  to infiltrate  and break the peaceful protests. The group had said that  ‘’all  those  identified    to be responsible  for this must  be  held  to account  and prosecuted’’.   

Take  immediate action  as spelt out in the Youth Charter  of Demands including  the  release  of all arrested  protesters , justice  and Compensation  for the Families  of victims  and an Independent  body  to oversee  the prosecution  of the guilty officers.

They would  also want him   to  relieve the Heads of the various  security agencies as they have failed the nation.   The Group who are not happy over  what is  happening in the country were said to have asked the Daura Politician  to address  perennial  insecurity  and killings in the country, particular ,  in the north east and north west.

Perhaps, given his desire to find a lasting solution to END SARS protests across the country which had persisted  despite the curfew declared by the governors, in their respective states, Buhari was said to initiated a virtual meeting with former Presidents and Heads of States: Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, Earnest Shonekan, and Abdulsalami Abubakar, a retired Army General and former military Head of State at the Council chambers at the Presidential  Villa, Friday, October 23, 202020.

The government who were said o be physically present with him at Council Chambers were Yemi Osinbajo, Vice Presidnt, Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the government of the Federation, Ibrahim Gambari, a Professor and Chief of Staff to the President, and Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA.

Also at the meeting were Gabriel Olonisakin, a General and Chief of Denfense Staff, Mohammed Adamu, Inspector Geneal of police, IGP,Yusuf Magaji Bichi, Director General, Department of State Security, DSS, Director General , and National Intelligence Agency, NIA.


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