Pan-Yoruba sociocultural group, Afenifere has added its voice to the ongoing nationwide #EndSARS protests, saying restructuring remains the only solution to the current struggle.
It called for the devolution of more powers to states while asking the Executive and the National Assembly to reduce the cost of governance.
Afenifere hailed Nigerian youth whom it noted “have risen to say enough to the excesses of the Nigerian state symbolized by the crimes of SARS at this period in history.”
“This is not the time for long speeches. The message is clear: Let us now rescue Nigeria from imminent disintegration and destruction. Let us restructure our country into a fairer, more just and equitable polity now,” said Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti in a statement.
The group said in order to enhance nationwide security, there was the need to create state police now.
“To enhance nationwide development and progress return control of resources to states now
“To ensure peaceful and harmonious co-existence devolve more power to the states now.
“To reduce corruption and cost of governance reduce the size of government now. Now is the time. Tomorrow may be too late,” Fasoranti added.
Afenifere bemoaned the plundering of the nation’s commonwealth “in a mindless frenzy of corruption, bigotry, injustice and social decadence, perpetrated with disdain and impunity, selfishly unmindful of dissipating our assets and wealth; without any compunction in leaving massive Infrastructural deficit and mounting indebtedness for the younger generation.”
According to it, the demands contained in the #ENDSARS are all reasonable demands for good governance, better security for life and property and a stable economy.
It called on the President, the National and State Assembly and Governors “to heed to the patriotic demands of our youth and be willing to absorb the financial consequences by reducing their own salaries and expenses; as well as the costs of running government.”
“The economic implications will boost employment, stimulate demand and pull our country out of depression. The government has to act now, tomorrow may be too late,” it said.
The group appealed to the protesters to avert a breakdown of law and order even as it warned the government “to avoid any precipitate action that can escalate the tense situation.”
“No amount of threats and unleashing of violence will get these young people off demanding a better deal.
It is not helpful blackmailing the protesters instead of looking into their demands and establishing a better livable polity.
Running old ways
“The spirit behind these protests will rise again and again to demand a better and fairer deal.
“We cannot afford to continue running Nigeria in the old ways,” Afenifere said.
It added that for decades the Nigerian youth have always shown “indignation against state irresponsibility at critical stages over decades.”
It recalled that in 1961, they shot down the Anglo-Nigerian defend pact. In1978, they took over the streets of Nigeria in the “Ali Must Go” crisis.
In 1986, they had a showdown over the killings of four ABU students by the police and in 1992, it was the anti – SAP revolt.
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The statement added: “And at a time the government was thinking that it had removed the spark of protests in Nigeria with organized labor compromise over the hike in fuel prices and electricity tariff, the young people woke up again over the extra – judicial killings and other brutalities of SARS.
“For decades, and more stridently in recent times, patriotic citizens have ceaselessly clamoured for a new constitutional order to arrest the downward spiral of our country into the abyss of political destruction.
“We have witnessed, over the years, the systematic savaging and plundering of our collective well-being in a mindless frenzy of corruption, bigotry, injustice and social decadence, perpetrated with disdain and impunity.
“The signs have been clear for some time, that we were approaching the tipping point. Events of the past few days, will appear to suggest that the last straw is nigh.
“As proud forebears of the struggle for the emancipation of Nigeria from the clutches of oppression and injustice, we salute the courage and responsible initiative of the youth in peacefully pressing for justice and social reforms as encapsulated in the #ENDSARS protests. This is the culmination of a lifelong struggle by devoted patriots to bring about a new social and constitutional order in our polity, to institute a new dawn of peace and progress embedded in social justice.”