We the Igbo Ekunie Initiative, IEI, comprising individuals in Nigeria and the Diaspora; have observed with keen interest, the unprecedented “EndSars” protests across the nation. We have also observed the criminal and cowardly killing of peaceful protesters at Lekki toll gates by members of the armed forces which unfortunately nudged the hitherto peaceful protests into sporadic violence.
For decades, rather than protect the citizenry, the Nigerian police engaged in massive extortion and wanton extrajudicial killings. It’s reputed to be the most corrupt and dysfunctional police organisation in the world. There is thus, no doubt, that the protests were in the first instance engendered by police brutality and abuses, but an incisive reading of the state of the nation would indicate that undercurrents such as mass poverty, youth unemployment, absence of infrastructure, injustice, exclusion, a flawed structure and overall systemic failure of governance contributed in inciting the protests.
Whereas Muhammadu Buhari had campaigned on promises of nation-building and effective restructuring of the nation for optimal governance; once in power, the administration has acted in reverse of these ideals, at levels never before been seen.
Apart from failing to reduce poverty, provide infrastructure and refusing to undertake police and other structural reforms, Buhari has incrementally violated the federal character principles in the constitution and by consequence negated the existential necessity of nation-building by constituting an unprecedented government of exclusion.
To put it in perspective; the United Nations organisation has a total membership of 193 nations while Nigeria has more than 250 ethnic nations. By implication, Nigeria is more diverse than the constituent members of the United Nations Organisation. Can anyone imagine a diverse organisation like the UN being dominated and led exclusively by people from just a few nations? Can the UN still be legitimate and effective if it’s led in such an opaque and exclusionist way?
Yet that is exactly what the Muhammadu Buhari has done since coming to power. In a nation more diverse than the constituent membership of the UN, Buhari deliberately chose to constitute his government in all boards, parastatals, agencies and security organisations of only people from a select few ethnic nationalities to the exclusion of others. These unconstitutional, unpatriotic, undemocratic and indeed treasonable acts, denied him the national loyalty, legitimacy and expertise needed to run an effective government capable of addressing the nations critical challenges.
Democracy is not war, nor is it a zero-sum game. As the oath of office and constitution dictates, a president; once elected presides for all without discrimination or favour to any group above the other. A president must also govern to meet the needs of the people. Not only has President Buhari failed in both fundamental benchmarks, but he has also wrought unprecedented destruction on our democracy and endangered national unity like no other president in the nations chequered history.
In light of all of the above; we wish to state as follows:
That the protesters should cease all forms of violent protests and revert to peaceful protests to press home their legitimate demands.
That the president should immediately restore professionalism and loyalty to the armed forces, police, security services, boards, parastatals and agencies by immediately removing all the long-overdue service chiefs and police IG and replace them with a deliberate balance that reflects the 6 geopolitical zones.
That a sizable youth fund should be set up to address the training needs, poverty and mass unemployment of youths across the nation.
That a circular should urgently be sent to all agencies, boards and security agencies to review all recent appointments in view of reflecting federal character in all such appointments.
That the president should publicly commit and begin the transitional period of restructuring the nation which should include far-reaching police reforms, administrative reforms, judicial reforms, constitutional reforms and overall structural reforms.
That an all-inclusive government of national unity should be constituted in view of beginning an aggressive process of nation-building.
In conclusion: we submit that nations such as Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, USSR, Sudan and others around the globe disintegrated because successive leaders ignored the need for nation-building and systemic good governance. Those nations allowed tribalism, ethnoreligious bias, exclusion, injustice and bad governance to become the dominant ethos in their societies. Needless to say, they paid the price for those failings.
Nigeria once fought a civil war, but learnt no lessons from it, despite the colossal sacrifices made to keep the country one. If we continue on this trajectory, it’s a definite conclusion that Nigeria will suffer the same fate as the above-named nations. The protests might come to an end, but it will only be a temporary peace of the graveyard. Therefore refusing or delaying to act will only postpone the evil day. We call therefore on the president to act on our recommendations and to do so urgently before it’s too late.
Maazi Tochukwu Ezeoke
President Igbo Ekunie Initiative
Mr Lawrence Nwobu
Secretary Igbo Ekunie Initiative