One year after #EndSARS: Taking the struggle from streets to polls

EndSARS Protesters

File Photo: EndSARS Protesters

By Titilope T. Anifowoshe

When COVID-19 rocked the world, Nigerians didn’t know that it won’t be the last of an unusual phenomenon that would reshape and shift the paradigm of Nigeria’s political temperature. When #EndSARS started in December 2017 as an advocacy against police brutality, no one knew that it would transform into a movement that would later lead to a bigger revolution for the rebirth of Nigeria.

From social media to the streets of Nigeria and beyond, youths staged the biggest demonstration in the history of 21st century Nigeria.

With nothing but an internet connection, skills, unity, mutuality of purpose, and a burning passion for a better Nigeria, youths shut down the nation and forced the Nigerian Government to order the immediate disbandment of the notorious SARS unit and pledge reforms for officers of the Nigerian Police Force. With a purely
egalitarian structure, youths provided security, legal and health services, entertainment, and funds for the protest.

One year after the historic #EndSARS, none of the reforms promised by President Muhammadu Buhari has been implemented; police officers still abuse and brutalize Nigerians, hundreds of #EndSARS protesters are still locked up illegally in prisons across the nation, and Nigeria’s economy is at its lowest.

Despite these unkept promises and anomalies, the youths of Nigeria have never before shown as much interest in politics as they do post-#EndSARS protest.

However, there seems to be a misplaced priority on the part of the youths. Can the #EndSARS lead Nigeria to its desired development? How far can #EndSARS take Nigerian youths?

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When INEC instituted online voter registration, one would have thought that Nigerian youths would be the pioneer of the process and occupy INEC with the same organization they gave the #EndSARS protest. Alas, my fellow Nigerian youths seem to be content with tweeting and ranting on Twitter spaces and Club House. Beyond random Voters’ registration social media posts, there is little or no organization for a concrete strategy for youth takeover of Nigeria’s political space.

It’s 365 days after the Lekki Toll Gate killings and all that I still read on my #EndSARSwitter are insults and criticism of the APC-led administration and talks about how PDP failed us. Like the Squid Game, youths are failing to realize that we are in a race with the current leadership of our nation. After we scared them with the #EndSARS protest, and they bullied us with the nation’s security apparatus, they are working hard to hinder youthful participation and representation in politics by making elections expensive.

If Nigerian youths want to take over from these same old faces and rebuild Nigeria, we must learn to not just bark but also bite and realize that there are no polling units on social media. We must take a cue from our strength and unity during the #EndSARS protest, and must never be skeptical of the political and economic powers that we wield. We must be resilient in demanding a change of government with our votes and active participation in the 2023 election polls and beyond.

We must recognize that our unity is a huge threat to the current crop of politicians who are ruining our nation. We must see the #EndSARS as a test of our power and capacity to rebirth Nigeria. We must penetrate existing political parties and infuse the innovations and energy of youths to attain a political system filled with genuine service to the people and integrity.

The numerous panel sessions and symposiums organized in memorial of the #EndSARS should be more than criticisms and identification of the failures of the President Buhari-led administration. It should be for reflection and strategizing for a complete youth takeover in Nigeria.

Don’t call me a dreamer! I am Titilope Anifowoshe and my belief in the power and possibilities of Nigerian
youths are unlimited.

Barr. Titilope T. Anifowoshe is an active Nigerian citizen. She is the Publicity Secretary of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Kwara State. She can be reached via [email protected]

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