President Muhammadu Buhari has asked youths who have been embarking on #EndSARS protests across the country to consider leaving the streets and approach the negotiation table with government, stating that it was important for the protesting youths to realise protests can’t last indefinitely.
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant to Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President, represented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello, spoke at the maiden National Youth Day programme with the theme “Invest in the youth, secure our future” held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The statement was titled “President Buhari to Nigeria youths: End street protests, dialogue with government on police reforms.”
Buhari said; “You must realise that protests cannot last indefinitely. My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you.
“However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.
“Every successful protest movement the world over has understood that there comes a time when activity must move from the street to the negotiation table. That time for you has come. Do not be afraid of this reality. You should welcome it.
“It is important that we all strive to use this moment constructively. Too many people have already sacrificed too dearly. It is our duty to use this fateful situation to move ourselves to a more just and caring society.
“As youths, you have a nation and a future to build. My government will always be your faithful partner in this essential and patriotic endeavour.”
The president while reiterating his position that youths have the right to peaceful protests, warned against using security agents to brutalise such peaceful protesters.
“It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish SARS and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.
“To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people.
“This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people toward a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge,” the President added.
Describing young Nigerians as agents for social change, economic growth and sustainable development, President Buhari said his administration has established no fewer than 25 initiatives aimed at empowering youths across the country.
Buhari said; “Today, we will unveil the official logo of the N75bn Nigeria Youth Investment Fund for the period of 2020–2023.
“This novel fund is dedicated to investing in the innovative ideas, skills and talents of Nigerian Youths and to provide our youths with a special window to access much-needed financing, business management skills and other inputs critical for sustainable enterprise.”