The Serving Overseer of Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare said Sunday that the leaders of the nation “cannot afford to keep sinful silence when the youth of our nation are being oppressed by a Nigerian state that is supposed to protect them”
Bakare had weeks ago said that the #EndSARS protest was a tip of an iceberg saying any attempt to resolve the issues must go beyond the surface to excavate the underlying factors that led to the protest.
In a series of Tweets where he addressed crucial issue of national importance, Bakare said there’s need to channel the tremendous energy of the Nigerian youth towards building the Nigeria of our dreams, a nation of which generations yet unborn will be proud.
He said “I have chosen as a theme the evergreen words of Benjamin Disraeli: ‘The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.’ This has become all the more necessary because of the backlash being meted out on some of the young Nigerians who participated in the #EndSARS protests.
“My mother, who I describe as the woman who saw the future, was a disciplinarian who groomed me into a respectful but audacious young man with big dreams. She infused into me an uncompromising sense of justice and an enormous dose of courage and confidence to back it up.
“That sense of justice was what inspired me as a student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) to join other students in the Ali Must Go protests against a military government whose draconian policies made living conditions difficult for students. #EndSARS
“That same sense of justice was what gave me the boldness as a student leader in the University of Lagos to stand face-to-face with the then military head of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo…and to declare within earshot of the Nigerian head of state that.
“This government possesses power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight’ (paraphrasing Martin Luther King Jnr). I would later be told by an official of the SSS that it was that day in 1978 a file was opened with my name on it.
“I must say that such a sense of justice was what I saw in action as young Nigerians rallied the nation last month in peaceful protests against police brutality.
“As I reminisced on the unfortunate incident of the shooting of unarmed protesters by Nigerian soldiers, I recalled with solemnity how I almost lost my life in the Ali Must Go protests as armed policemen fired live bullets into a crowd of students protesting peacefully.
“Unfortunately, the bullet that narrowly missed me gunned down the young man who was beside me, Akintunde Ojo, after whom a library in UNILAG was subsequently named…it is painful that the younger generation has had to face the same beasts we fought in my generation. #EndSARS
“We cannot afford to keep sinful silence when the youth of our nation are being oppressed by a Nigerian state that is supposed to protect them.
“As our nation returns to the drawing board in the wake of the EndSARS protests, I have observed with keen interest the policy actions and positions taken by national and subnational governments to address the broader issues of youth development in Nigeria from the prompt disbandment of SARS, to the N75B Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (N-YIF) launched by the federal government, as well as the appointment of young Nigerians on panels of inquiry set up by various state governments.
Some of the actions recently taken by the government on the heels of the #EndSARS protests may need to be reversed sooner rather than later in our collective best interest so that they do not trigger further protests.
“Among such policy actions is the freezing of the accounts of young Nigerians who reportedly sponsored the protests. While I admit that, under our extant laws, banks may freeze an account upon an ex parte order granted to a law enforcement agency by a court of competent jurisdiction for the purpose of investigation, these provisions of our Law should not be used to intimidate Nigerian youth simply because they engaged in and promoted protests against the inactions of government.
“Targeting and arresting citizens on trumped-up charges, deploying court probes as a tool of intimidation, and generally eroding our fragile peace, are deeply worrisome signs of regression.
“To extend the olive branch to the youth in one breath, and to deprive the youth of the right to freedom of movement and property as enshrined in our constitution in another breath, will send confusing signals and cast doubts in their minds regarding the sincerity of the govt.
“The immediate reversal of these actions, therefore, will calm raw nerves and fast track peace in our land. And if there are serious or fundamental security breaches that necessitated the freezing of bank accounts and the confiscation of a passport, these should be made known.
“In the absence of any security breaches, citizens’ rights should never be trampled upon. #EndSARS
“In the words of Robert Green Ingersoll, ‘I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot. Men are not superior by reason of the accidents of race or color.