WEEKEND ARENA

All these SARS-es in every organisation must end

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Any leader who takes the current EndSARS protests, raging across the country (and in some cities of the world) for granted, does so at his or her peril. It is ominous. So our leaders, across board, should begin to appreciate the fact that those acts of theirs, which have dogged the Nigerian state, leading to untold hardships and misery are coming home to roost. Nigerian youths have been called all sorts: lazy, criminal, incompetent, half-baked and unprepared, when in actual sense, it is the callousness of the present crop of leadership that caged them into this seemingly quiescent state. But they are waking up. And the ongoing protest is a confirmation that when one pushes a goat to the wall, it could bare its omnivorous dentition like any typical canine. That is exactly what is happening.

Of course, our politicians are crookedly smart and one can notice them jumping on the media opportunity the protest is offering; the reality is that the demonstration is beyond the menace the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, constituted themselves into. What we are seeing is plugged anger, which has been stored over the years, but suddenly, the SARS misdemeanor is acting like a detonator. If you listen to the protesters, their anger against the state is beyond SARS. They are yearning for good governance. I listened to one of them, Bolatito Oduala during a phone-in programme on a national TV, and she made it unequivocally clear that the protest is beyond SARS. When she was asked why the protests were continuing after the government had started addressing the issues raised by the protesters, she confirmed that the youths have lost faith in the government!

According to her, “How many times will the government make a promise without fulfilling it?” If the followership loses faith in their leadership, then the society is inches away from anarchy. I am afraid to think of Nigeria in this light but we may not be far from it, if urgent redemptive steps are not taken. I hear some politicians lending their voices in support of what the youths are doing, and I get amused that the same generation of politicians who plunged the youths into this abyss of economic strangulation is saying so.

We have heard stories of what their generation enjoyed as youths. Some of them have been depending on state resources since the 1960s till date. Some of them attended choice schools free of any charges, graduated into waiting plum jobs, apartments and cars. Some of them were fed in the universities by the government, but today, with leadership bequeathed on them, they have made a 360-degree turnaround to impose frivolous fees as tuitions in the universities as state governors. Many of them, who did not have rich parents, could not have gone to school had the government then, treated them the way they are treating the youths of today. With the youths bearing the full brunt of the bad governance by this group of leaders, it is time youths used their numbers to redefine the country and take their collective destiny in their hands. This is pertinent because these leaders in charge of the country are not keen on their progress. Their interest lies in primitive accumulation of wealth to equip their children sufficiently to be able to weather the impending economic storm they caused in the country. That is why they run job succession schemes in the choice FG departments where generations of children from the ruling class keep replacing their retiring parents. That is why recruitment into agencies like NNPC, NIMASA, FIRS, etc are never advertised or thrown open for the best to compete, emerge and get hired, but clogged by quota system and recommendation letters from members of the executive, legislators and their cronies. The youths must tighten their grip on the present calls for reforms and realise that the menace of SARS also exist beyond the police.

After ending the SARS in the police, there needs to be an end to the SARS in the National Assembly where allowances and salaries for individual members run into millions in an economy that refused to pay decent wages to the average workers. There is need to end the SARS in the electricity sector, where consumers are forced to pay for darkness. There should be an end to the SARS in Godfatherism, where some politicians have appropriated the country and its resources to themselves by ensuring their puppets emerge as governors and house of assembly members. The SARS in NNPC should also be ended for ‘killing’ Nigerians with malfeasance that has engendered soaring petrol prices, where we import what we should be exporting. All these other kinds of SARS are ‘brutalising’ the youths in an indescribable manner, causing them endless years of unemployment and misery after leaving school; delaying their journey to parenthood. All these ‘SARSes’, must end!