#EndSARS Protest: The Aftermath and Hope for the Future, By Clement D. Ebri

My Beloved Cross Riverians,

It is with much sadness that I call out to you today. I am devastated by the aftermath of the initial articulate and legitimate #EndSARS protests, led by our youths who were demanding an end to Police brutality and the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), and for good governance across all tiers of government. It is most unfortunate that in the pursuit of a legitimate demand, we have suffered serious unintended collateral damage. For several decades, the citizens of our dear State have exhibited endearing fortitude, patriotic self-abnegation and invincible determination to excel within the comity of states of the federation. With this age-long abiding commitment to the growth and development of our State, I am hopeful that we cannot allow the ugly and uncharacteristic incident that occurred in Calabar between Friday, October 23rd through Sunday, the 25th, define us as a people. We are so much better than that!

While the wanton destruction of both public and private property is condemnable, in no uncertain terms, one cannot afford to be negligent about the plight of our teeming youths across the state and indeed the nation, but I strongly maintain that there is a better way to air grievances, foster dialogue and resolve such grievances in a peaceful manner. We should not burn down the barn in order to kill the rats.

Let me use this opportunity to commiserate with the Cross River State government, the federal government, other state governments, corporate entities and individuals who have lost property and in some cases their sources of livelihood. Importantly, I empathise with the security agencies across the nation, particularly the Police, those who may have lost friends and loved ones or sustained varying degrees of injuries during this dark page of our history.

I therefore call on us all to rethink our actions and inactions, pre- and post- #EndSARS, and we may find that we all share varying degrees of passive and active culpability. Thankfully, the federal government has acceded to the demands of the protestors. The state governments are equally keying into the federal plan of action. Let’s sheathe our swords while the modalities for the implementation of the demands are being worked out.

I believe that the present situation, as sad as it is, presents us an opportunity as a collective to come together and reason together, for a people cannot walk together, nor indeed can they evolve an effective pathway to inclusive development and a desired future, if they are not in agreement.

We must therefore, as a people, agree that:

● We have a shared responsibility to protect our common wealth;
● We shall commit to expressing our grievances in ways that will not offend the law;
● We shall commit to seeking legal and lawful means to address perceived or actual injustices against us;
● We have a common responsibility to protecting our good name as a peaceful, forward-looking and accommodating people.

Above all, we must commit to loving our neighbours as ourselves, for only in love can we forgive one another for our direct and indirect, intentional and unintentional, offences against each other.

If we commit to do this then, indeed, there is hope for the future.

About the Author: Clement D. Ebri is a former governor of Cross River State.

Source: Premium Times

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