Political economist and former presidential candidate Professor Pat Utomi described the #EndSRAS protests as an event marking the arrival of citizenship in Nigeria.
He added that Nigeria did not yet have a democracy.
Utomi spoke on Tuesday at the memorial conference and public presentation of a book edited by Chido Onumah titled “Remaking Nigeria: Sixty Years, Sixty Voices”, in Alausa, Ikeja.
The event on the theme “One year later #EndSRAS, 35 years after Dele Giwa and the quest to remake Nigeria, âtook place to reflect on the assassination of the former Newswatch editor and youth activism.
Utomi said, âWe need to build citizenship and uplift citizens – people passionate about a shared humanity. At the bottom of the society ladder are the idiots, the people who just care about themselves, and at the next level, the tribalists who only care about people who share the same blood or language. For tribalists, anyone who does not share their parish base is an enemy.
âWhen these people evolve and become citizens, a shared humanity will push them to do things that are for the common good of all. This is why the #EndSRAS the protests, for me, marked the arrival of citizenship in Nigeria.
The former presidential candidate added that the practice of democracy in Nigeria had been disrupted.
âDemocracy is supposed to be people holding government to account. But the kind of democracy that we run here is that the people fear the government instead of the government fear the people. Until we can make the government fear the people, we will not have democracy, âhe said.
Human rights activist Femi Falana, SAN, urged young people not to fear peaceful protests, saying they “are backed by the law”.
âThe murder of Dele Giwa marked the beginning of government bondage in Nigeria. Before the Boko Haram sect launched into the bombings, the military junta led by General Ibrahim Babangida decided to launch bombings against Nigerians. His murderers wanted to make a point, they wanted to scare the people into engaging in the wildest and brutal nature of murder, âhe said.
The Director of the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said: âYoung people will be the ones who will liberate Nigeria, which is why we need to invest in young people.
The Director of the African Media and Information Center, Mr. Chido Onumah, said: âThe #EndSRAS The 2020 protests highlighted the disaffection Nigerians feel towards the Nigerian police force and the country’s leadership. It showed the power of youth advocacy and the dimension of the state of corruption in Nigeria and the determination of our young people to build themselves up and stand up in the face of bullying.
All rights reserved. This material and any other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without the express prior written permission of PUNCH.
Contact: [emailÂ protected]