The Nigerian government seems bent on worsening the situation of young Nigerians following the #EndSARS protest, despite their genuine effort to drive positive change.
As young people with a progressive mindset who have come to terms with the fact that the desired change is achievable even in the face of stiff opposition, Nigerian youths decided to organise a meeting to discuss the way forward after their peaceful protest was hijacked by government-sponsored hoodlums.
Quite unfortunately, the government promptly swung into action, as usual, to deny them of their constitutional right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
Seun Kuti, son of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the late Afro Beat pioneer, had planned on hosting a mass meeting of youths at the Afrika Shrine, tagged “#EndSARS Movement: Lessons and Tasks.” But the police reportedly issued a warning in a letter to the Anikulapo family; asking that the meeting be suspended. The Federal Government also threatened to close down the shrine.
As at Tuesday, heavy security was reportedly deployed around the shrine to ensure that the meeting does not hold.
It’s appalling to many Nigerians, the length the government can go to stop a peaceful assembly but such things don’t come as a surprise to them anymore as the current administration is known for denying Nigerians their rights, with impunity. It is also unfortunate that we live in a democracy where citizens are denied their fundamental right to peaceful assembly with stringent punishment for seeking to better their fate.
The government is not only making life difficult for young Nigerians, they are also denying them opportunities for growth.
On Monday, one of the #EndSARS promoters who had his account frozen shared his ordeal on social media, following the freezing of his account. Not only has it been difficult for him to survive, since his account got frozen, he has also missed out on opportunities that would have contributed to his growth.
His tweet reads:
Situations such as these, are part of the reasons why the government needs to reconsider its approach to handling issues that concern young Nigerians. Pushing the youth against the wall will only serve to worsen the situation of the country. Stagnation among the youth is counter-productive to the individual and the State, as it impacts negatively on national development too.
The government needs to be reminded that the youths (#EndSARS protesters or not) are citizens with rights that should be respected. They are also major contributors to socio-economic growth and only an empowered youth can contribute to nation-building.