LAGOS – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), on Sunday lamented that #EndSARS protest has complicated matters for him politically as many Nigerians are blaming him for an incident he knows nothing about.
In a statement made available to Daily Independent, Tinubu denied knowledge of the invitation of soldiers to the #EndSARS protests in Lekki, Lagos, saying he has no powers to do so as a private citizen.
According to him, having participated in protests during the June 12 struggle, it will be unfair for him to suppress the rights of young Nigerians who are demanding for a better and just society.
He also said it is erroneous for people to believe he has interests in the revenues generated at the Lekki Toll Gate, noting that it is a public property whose revenue does not affect his income in any way.
He said having registered their grievances on the streets, the youths should sheathe their swords and move to the negotiation table with the Federal Government.
He also appealed to them to give President Muhammadu Buhari the time needed to fulfill his pledge on the reforms.
According to him, “The present situation clearly does nothing to profit me politically or otherwise.
It has complicated matters for me because many people now wrongfully blame me for a violent incident in which I played no part. Still, I stand strongly behind the people of Nigeria and affirm their right to protest peacefully.
“Along with all well-meaning, patriotic Nigerians, I want to see an end to all forms of institutionalised brutality and I shall do my utmost to see that this humane objective is realised. “For, if these protests can generate meaningful reform, our youth will have achieved a compound national success.
“First, they would have ended the terrible matter of institutionalised police brutality. Second, Nigeria would have made an important accretion to our political culture whereby government listened to and acted on the recom- mendations of ordinary people protesting against the wrongs done them.
“This would establish a healthy precedent.
Yet such durable progress can be made only if government respects the protesters and protesters actively negotiate with government.
No steps should be taken by government to curtail protest activity as the people have chosen this vehicle as their preferred way to interface with government on this issue. “Yes, protest leaders too must appreciate the concrete realities of this situation.
Street protests cannot last indefinitely without degenerating into other serious problems that no one wants. You have gotten government’s ear and attention, use this moment to press your case.
“The right to protest should be pacifically exercised and never abused; neither should it be feared nor unduly curtailed.
It is essential because it lends greater depth to the relationship between government and the governed.
“If we are to attain parity with older, more established democracies, we must accept protests as part of our national development. It is important that Nigeria gets this situation right.
The direction and pace of our democratic progress weighs in the balance as the entire world watches to see how we manage ourselves at this delicate moment”, he said.
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