By Olumide Olugbemi-Gabriel
It’s clear from the events of yesterday that police and policing in Nigeria need more than reforms. In fact, heightened and virulent cases of bad policing and police brutality (and extortion) since EndSARS protest, 2020 have only reinforced the popular belief that Nigeria Police as presently structured and manned are beyond redemption.
Nigeria needs a brand new police. The country urgently needs the police that’s structured to be decent and trained to respect the rights of every citizens, including the vilest of humans, under all conditions.
What we have right now is the equivalent of banditry (apologies to all decent and conscientious policeman/woman out there). You need to see some of the videos from yesterday’s EndSARS memorial with regards to the conduct of the police.
I saw brutish force, savagery, beastiality and criminality on display as responses to mere dissent by young people. I feel thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed. To see police men and women resort to the tactics of street thugs and alleyway urchins in addressing popular civil disobedience broke my heart and spirit.
For how long shall we continue to demonize being young and criminalize their energy, their headiness, their insouciance, their boisterousness? Shouldn’t we listen to them, understand them and guide them alright and harness their budding energy? After all, we’re once like them. We also had abused our elders. We locked up Vice Chancellors in the toilet. We shut down varsity campuses on some flimsy excuses. We challenged military rule and demanded democratic. We didn’t listen too. We’re idealistic and thought we need it all. We’re Sorosoke too.
Yes! Yesterday’s youths are today’s adults. So if we’re once like them, shouldn’t we show more understanding, empathy and subtle solidarity?
Most of our present leaders were students activist like many of the police officers who brutalize our youths yesterday. A serving AIG was President, University of Ibadan Students’ Union Government; at least I know him.
So why is it difficult to leverage on our yesterday to understand why today is the way it is? Why? Are we like the proverbial drunkard who in a moment of inebriation uses his drinking bowl as an ill-fitting cap?
I ask: What’s the cost of listening to young people? Is it a cost we cannot afford or pay?
What shall it profit us to keep Nigeria in her present form and lose our youths together with the future?
Sadly, in our defiance and arrogance, we fail to see what a bleak future we have without a positively galvanised youth population.
On the impacts of 20-10-20 and related matters on our fate as a beleaguered country,, time will surely tell.
I refuse to join the pretension party. I was once like the young people voicing dissent and discontent.
For now, I hide my head in shame over the way and manner we have treated the Nigerian youth.