“My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress #EndSARS Protesters”- Buhari
NEWSMAN, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has told youths who have been embarking on #EndSARS protests across the country that the time has come for them to leave the streets and approach negotiation table.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President represented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello, spoke at the maiden National Youth Day programme with the theme “Invest in the youth, secure our future” held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President was quoted as saying that after the protests, what the Federal Government wants to hear now are “concrete and practical ideas” from the youths.
Although Buhari acknowledged the constitutional right of the youth to peaceful protests, he said they needed to stop the protests before “forces and actors” will take over the protests in order to redirect them in ways the youth did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.
“You must realise that protests cannot last indefinitely. My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you. However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.
“Every successful protest movement the world over has understood that there comes a time when activity must move from the street to the negotiation table. That time for you has come. Do not be afraid of this reality. You should welcome it.
“It is important that we all strive to use this moment constructively. Too many people have already sacrificed too dearly. It is our duty to use this fateful situation to move ourselves to a more just and caring society.
“As youths, you have a nation and a future to build. My government will always be your faithful partner in this essential and patriotic endeavour.”
Buhari reiterated his position that it is wrong to use violence to disperse peaceful protesters.
He warned against using security agents to brutalise such peaceful protesters, PUNCH reported.
The President argued that to allow protests is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and belief in democracy.
“No one who is obeying the law, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalized by law enforcement agencies.
“It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish SARS and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.
“To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people.
“This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people toward a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge,” the President added.
Describing Nigerian youths as agents for social change, economic growth and sustainable development, Buhari said his regime has established no fewer than 25 initiatives aimed at empowering youths across the country.
He noted that the initiatives were aimed at placing Nigerian youths on the path of career development, entrepreneurship, skills development and direct employment.
“Today, we will unveil the official logo of the N75bn Nigeria Youth Investment Fund for the period of 2020–2023.
“This novel fund is dedicated to investing in the innovative ideas, skills and talents of Nigerian Youths and to provide our youths with a special window to access much-needed financing, business management skills and other inputs critical for sustainable enterprise,” the President said.
Buhari announced that over one million applications have already been received since the Youth Investment Fund Portal went live on October 12, 2020.
Restating his call for national unity, Buhari said Nigerian youths are better positioned to drive the indivisibility of Nigeria and collectively overcome whatever challenges bedevilling the nation.
He added, “On this special occasion, we affirm our faith and confidence in the indivisible entity called Nigeria and in its future.
“We face many challenges but, in you, this nation has the collective ability and drive to overcome that which confronts us.”