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Today, the police are stationed everywhere in many cities where the youths had plans to stage a commemorative protest in memory of those who lost their lives and assets during the 2020 #EndSARS protest staged by Nigerian youths across the country to resist police brutality and their use of state power with impunity.

In my humble opinion, where we are afraid the youths approach to issues of general concern to the welfare of the people will threaten peace and tranquility; then the leadership with all sincerity of purpose should always take the lead in addressing those issues through intentional (not reactionary action as we have it now) and strategic national conversation that will yield resolutions that can inform and drive positive change in the polity.

Long before today, #EndSARS protest being such a huge phenomenon that shook the foundation of the country like no other one before it should have taken the centre stage of a genuine national conversation for months or weeks to forestall in a civil way what we are afraid undesirable may hijack the youths commemorative initiative to achieve.

A non partisan national conversation on the matter involving the youths, the Nigerian police and other security units of the country, academics, thought leaders and opinion moulders etc at the instance of both the executive and legislative arms of the Nigerian government at all levels would have made another round of protest by the youths and show of power by the government unnecessary.

However since nothing serious seems to be happening from official quarters, the youths are justified to come up with their commemorative programme. We pray that nothing untoward will happen as a result of that step but if it does happen, certainly it is as a result of leaders who have all the time to bicker over 2023 general elections but have no plan to govern with sincerity of purpose.

If we may ask, what has happened to the grievances and the five-point demands took to Mr President on behalf of the Nigerian youths by the Governor of Lagos State at the heat of the 2020 protest and what has happened to the findings of the panels set up across the states of the country?

Have the victims of police brutality that were established before the panels got justice and has any significant reform took place in the Nigerian police since after the unprecedented protest?

The authority cannot continue to take the people for granted for all eternity and not expect unpleasant consequences. When it will reach that crescendo is what nobody can tell; except we change our ways and become not only responsive but also responsible in the use of state power and resources we are “toying with the head of a serpent held close to our nose”.

In any society where leadership is not purposeful, sincere and proactive, the people does whatever is pleasing to them and on most occasions such do turn out as things detrimental to the general welfare of the society where the leadership too will have no hiding place when the evil day arrives.

To sum it up, permit me to seize the moral authority of my priestly office to appeal to Nigerian youths to be orderly in all that they may plan to do to express their grievances. Their anger against those that have enjoyed the juicy part of Nigeria should not make them turn the country to a land with nothing left to rebuild the ruins foisted on the nation by the avarice of greedy leaders.

If 2023 is their (leaders) only matter of concern, let us use that to also begin the process of changing the narrative by electing people that have both the capacity and the sincerity of purpose to lead the country out of the woods.

COS Fawenu, the Pastor of Oasis of Wisdom Bible Church, President Leadersguide International and former Assistant General Secretary, CAN 19 Northern States and Abuja writes from Ilorin.

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