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Samuel Akinnuga: An Open Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari

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Your Excellency,

You have missed opportunities in the past to show that you’re a leader we can look up to at critical moments. You’re missing it, again.

Yes, we read your tweet. But it didn’t say much. Your tweets were in contrast to the yearnings of several thousands of youth across the country who have had enough of police brutality. The protests are a firm and unfaltering evidence that the youth, indeed Nigerians, are tired of being ‘do-nothingists’. “There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over…” This is unmistakably one of such times, when Nigerians would rather sleep on the streets, be tear-gassed and shot at, than to continue putting up with indignities in their own country.

The youth have power, and for the first time in a long while, we’re using it. No violence, no political motivations, no pecuniary interests; just a consistent, untiring, an unyielding desire to be heard, and an unquenchable passion to reject an entrenched social disorder in the name of SARS. The world got the message and proudly joined in solidarity. For some reason, I’ll like to believe that something was born in the Nigerian youth, and this is only the beginning of the resistance to tyranny and injustice. The government should be happy with this development; you have urged the nation with the ‘change-begins-with-me’ message, and the youth have just increased the volume of that message.

The #EndSARS campaign must never be seen as an effort to condone crime. On the contrary, it is a struggle for the recognition of every Nigerian’s somebodiness – that every Nigerian has worth. It is a struggle for a Nigeria where people don’t have to live in perpetual fear of the very institutions in which they should find solace and security. It is a struggle for a Nigeria that treats its future leaders with dignity and respect. By extension, it is the beginning of a youth-centric struggle for a Nigeria that the youth play an active part in. There is still a long way to go on this journey, but I believe that the patriotic youth are concerned enough to understand the enormity of the tasks ahead.

To the pleasure of history, you are the man in charge now. By the time the story of this historic moment is written, those of us that witnessed, and contributed in some way, will remember the heroes. It’s not too late to etch your name in the council of those Nigerians. Your actions over the next few days may well guarantee that. Your people have asked you to address them. We shouldn’t be begging you to speak to us or address our issues like some god we are trying to appease. We are asking you to do so as a public servant who enjoys the public mandate at this time. There are many times when your silence may be golden, this is not one of them.

Let me share a conviction: I believe 2020 is the year that many of us prayed about and looked forward to. Perhaps, this is a perfect independence gift – that the youth are actually leading. Before you is a great opportunity to rekindle the hope of many, empathize with the victims of police brutality (painfully, some are no longer here with us), and build solid support of the Nigerian youth for the Police Reform Act, and other institutional reforms, of your government. The youth are watching. The world is watching. I wish you the very best. And kindly accept this as another voice calling for an end to police brutality. Nigerian lives matter.

God bless Nigeria.


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