It is not the first time youths would be massively campaigning towards changing a particularly negative condition in the polity, but most if not all of the previous youth-spread protests had occurred in the social media space, and not on land. The past four to five days have brought the usually harmless anger of the youths merely exercised on social media into visible forms, and on physical ground. what is left to say?
It seems we have entered into a new political life as a society, with the youth as a stratum playing bigger roles and having stronger voices, but the #EndSARS movement which morphed from a mere twitter hashtag into physical megaphone activism has its suspicions too from many quarters. Some of the doubters of the cause have deemed a Reform SARS campaign as more socially profitable than our demand to #EndSARS.
They have asked whether kidnapping and robbery would not simply brandish their ugly heads even in uglier forms if SARS is disbanded without a readily available replacement.
When we asked them why the kidnapping market has continued to fester and expand despite the existence of SARS, they replied that it could have expanded much more if SARS was not in existence and would become uncontainable if anyone dare end it.
Another side of the unexpressed alternative protests argue in favour of Police reform, a scheme which roughly equals to entirely overhauling the police force’s machinery. We have showed lesser disagreement with these ones while to the Reform and don’t End SARS sentiments we have found no form of accommodation.
Now it seems we are winning. the obstinately self-deafened government machinery has started showing signs of yielding. It seems the administration is now showing visible fear of a potential sub-Saharan Spring of revolts rising from the mist of the fight against police brutality.
SARS has been officially disbanded, announced the Inspector General of Police, though it is not the first time such an announcement has been made. But it looks sure this time around, any armed man in mufti who goes about hunting dreadlocks, crazy-jeans or iphone wearers in order to harass, exploit or even mutilate them, shall be surely picked as a thief, an armed robber or assassin rather than suspected as an employee of some covert police units.
What is more? the first time youths have openly protested on a cause they have not gone back empty-handed, a precausor to saying that we now have the password of the only language the Nigerian government understands. and one we should rely upon to speak our demands at future times.
Despite the implicit comedy of the narrative there are dark shadows still lurking in some corners of thought, casting the #EndSARS agitation and apparent victory in the light of a moral dilemma.
What if the rumours are true that most of the members of the now defunct SARS Police unit were ex-kidnappers, ritualists, assassins etc. and that having been apprehended and caged in prisons, government seeing the certain problem of insufficient prison facilities to contain them, it transformed them by arming them to fight their own former selves.
What if there are no spaces in the remnant police units to absorb these disengaged SARS officers, coupled with the fact that they would not all be fully disarmed.
What if the extortion and brutality SARS had meted on the aggrieved Nigerian youths have shot them into higher standards of living, which in the face of approaching joblessness, they would not wish to relinquish?
If no spaces are found for the absorption of the disengaged SARS corporals and sergeants, and government get lazy in announcing a replacement unit to specifically battle kidnapping and robbery, who will stop the armed now jobless SARS thugs from turning criminals and expanding the market of robbery and kidnapping around the country?
If this becomes our fate, and touch the wood that it does, then the doubters of just anger, the ReformSARS geng rise to gnash their cynical teeth at us, claiming they were right and we were wrong after all.
By then won’t the medicine of #EndSARS not prove to be worse than the disease of SARS brutality itself? For the disbandment of SARS as an institution will certainly not end Police brutality, and its culture of deep-seated corruption.
In a final analysis it seems the wars upfront against Police extortion and brutality will be more decisive for our eventual future and the final justification or otherwise of our EndSARS campaign. On the other hand, it is safe to remind all of us not to sleep with fully shut eyes yet. We must double our efforts with the spirit and will to protest anew, we must be vigilant against higher rates of kidnapping and robbery than any we have ever witnessed, as we must also pressure the Federal Government to announce a better trained, not less armed but more accountable and monitored new unit of the Police Force which will carry on and actually do the good works the defunct SARS was commissioned to do.