END SARS PROTEST: PROS AND CONS; THE WAY FORWARD.
Without mincing words, the #EndSARS protest and its aftermath was a powerful force that really shook the table of the country Nigeria. Nigerian leaders ordinarily would have thought it will just be a flash in the pan, not knowing that a strong, dedicated and united youth would stop at nothing to let their voices be heard and their demands met.
The protest may have come and gone, however the amazing youths of the Global Youth Network Lagos state chapter during its monthly E-learning Program for October had varying opinions about it.
Starting with a health webinar titled “ENDSARS Protest: Status of Nigerian Youth Mental Health Amid This Horror”, the state’s Coordinator 2 in person of Mr. Aborode Abdullahi had lamented saying “I am more concerned about the mental health of these youths. One of the characteristics of the Z generation is that they are easily stressed and depressed. Already, the Coalition of Mental Health Professionals in Nigeria is circulating contact details of counsellors and therapists that youths could reach to protect their mental health.
Many of these youths are probably in their mid 20s and early 30s. They haven’t seen a major uprising against government before. Their idea of protest is most likely what they see in organised countries. And since they don’t see these countries killing their youths, they can’t imagine that their own government sending soldiers to kill them. One can only imagine the mental stress many of these youths are going through now, especially with stories like that of a Computer Science undergraduate of a federal university killed in this melee.”
And even though the protest may have ended on a bad note with the killing of unarmed flag wavering protesters, which subsequently brought with it chaos, carnage and havoc; hoodlums/thugs attacking security operatives, destruction and vandalism of public and private properties/business, looting of palliatives in warehouses and so on. Knowing fully well that the protest was never a movement to support or an excuse to partake in illegal activities, one is left with one salient question. Who do we think is responsible for the high level of a criminal and illegal act committed by the youths and why?
- Is it the government?
- The media
- Parents or
- We as an individual
Answering this germane question, Global Youth Network Lagos state chapter Coordinator 1 Mr. Zakariyau Ajia had this to say “for me, I’ll say everybody, everyone played a part. But largely, the government appear to be the biggest culprits. Followed by the media and then parents. We the youths too could have acted better in some instances.
One major thing to note is that there’s no single strand of trust that exists between the government, a large majority of whom are politicians and the governed. Hence, every perceived progressive move by the government is met with a lot of distrust and scrutiny. In an environment where there’s sanity and government officials are not kings in their own rights, the response of the government should have been sufficient enough to call of the protest going into the second week. But this is Nigeria. And we all know it’s more or less a tales by moon light scenario over here.
That said, the reluctance of the media to cover without fear of sanctions by the government sent a wrong signal to already agitated youths who saw anybody not joining in the protest or lending in their voices as an enemy of a survival movement. Our parents came under this category as most of them either completely thought we didn’t need to protest or continued to peddle the “Don’t join them since you’re not a fraudster” thoughts. That pitched two generations that has a history of differing opinions due to a stark difference in technological advancement and a complete change of way of life and thought pattern.
Finally, the youths brought into the protests some level of exorbitance that characterizes youthful movements. Although understandable, it at some point undermined the seriousness, but never the credibility of the protest.”
Another member of the network Miss Mistura Oyebode gave her opinion saying “I think it boils down to us as a people in a way. The truth is most of these people in power are direct representations of our norms and values as a society.
Now before you crucify me, several times you see people before getting to a position of privilege, even in their daily lives are not straightforward. When they get to the position, they worsen. These people we’ve elected we’re once in the society as normal people before they got there and we still elected them anyway. Most Nigerians (Not all) when they get an opportunity to lead or govern, see it as an opportunity to rob. For example, after the palliative was shared, why wasn’t it distributed to the masses by the governors or let me say people in charge. That’s not the federal govt fault. It just goes to (show the deep the rot is in our nation. To see any real change, it’s not by electing youth, but looking inward and seeing what we value as a people and start from there.”
One thing we can all say for sure is that the EndSARS protest gave a recognition to voice of the youths and the government have come to realise that the youths are here to stay. This can be seen in how demands of the protest are being met, judicial panel being set up to investigate the extrajudicial killings by members of the dissolved Special Anti-robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police Force. Also, families of victims and dead police officers are being compensated by the Lagos state government.
Members of the network also gave their opinion as to where to go from here. One member named Yusuf Fathia asserted that “the society in general has to learn to speak with one voice. There is also need for a positive mindset and the keyed thought of not stopping low to join the bad guys”. Another member simply identified as Lillian also said “we need to begin massive enlightenment at the grass-root level, especially on voter education, good governance, human rights and if a petition can be raised to revamp the constitution, total revamping and not the one they do anytime they like. It will be great because so many flaws lies within the constitution which was made by the military men ruling us now”.
The EndSARS protest may have left certain youths in a state of depression and that necessitated another health-related webinar with the topic, “DEPRESSION: A Mental illness common in youths”. Tips on how to help oneself, a friend or relative when depressed was also given “If you know someone who is depressed, it affects you too. The facilitator of the webinar, Ms. Regina Okoko had this to say among other things; “The first and most important thing you can do to help a friend or relative who has depression is to help him or her get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make an appointment on behalf of your friend or relative and go with him or her to see the doctor. Other ways include: Offer emotional support, understanding, patience and encouragement. Engage your friend or relative in conversation, and listen carefully. Never disparage feelings your friend or relative expresses, but point out realities and offer hope. Never ignore comments about suicide, and report them to your friend’s or relative’s therapist or doctor. Invite your friend or relative out for walks, outings and other activities. Keep trying if he or she declines, but don’t push him or her to take on too much too soon. Although diversions and company are needed, too many demands may increase feelings of failure. Remind your friend or relative that with time and treatment, the depression will lift”.
Also, to help oneself out of depression, here is a suiting recommendation “If you have depression, you may feel exhausted, helpless and hopeless. It may be extremely difficult to take any action to help yourself. But it is important to realize that these feelings are part of the depression and do not accurately reflect actual circumstances. As you begin to recognize your depression and begin treatment, negative thinking will fade. Other ways would include:
Engage in mild activity or exercise. Go to a movie, a ballgame, or another event or activity that you once enjoyed. Participate in religious, social or other activities. Set realistic goals for yourself. Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities and do what you can as you can. Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you. Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Do not expect to suddenly “snap out of” your depression. Often during treatment for depression, sleep and appetite will begin to improve before your depressed mood lifts. Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced or changing jobs, until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation. Remember that positive thinking will replace negative thoughts as your depression responds to treatment.
Last but not the least PRAY! God is always there to listen to you. While you pray, believe. If you don’t believe in what you pray for then it’s like filling a basket with water. And don’t just pray, work towards your prayer intention”.
On the way forward, it high time we youths realised that we have to take decisive steps and actions towards achieving good governance, it will be good for us to realise that the process to achieving good governance may be tasking and there’s need for patience and strong desire for victory. It is highly advised that every youth gets his/herself properly registered for their PVC as this is the sure avenue for us to vote out bad governance and vote in the right leadership that we truly desire, and the best, peaceful and most effective way to effect change is through voting. Youths are advised to start getting involved in politics and are encouraged to participate actively in governance most especially from the grass-root level. It is advisable that youths effectively utilise whatever position they are opportuned to occupy by making positive impact in the society and having a clean record in order to be able contest for any position.