Why the End-SARS Movement Still Represents a Sign of Hope

Why the End-SARS Movement Still Represents a Sign of Hope

The #EndSARS protest is an unprecedented point in Nigeria’s history. One of the most beautiful traditions of Nigerian culture is how much elders are respected and their opinions are valued.

Unfortunately, age discrimination is promoted, and young people are often excluded from important conversations or decisions.

That young people are making such an inspiring, massive resistance to corrupt authorities is unique in Nigeria’s history. No other struggle has produced tens of thousands of people in all geopolitical regions of the country who resist weapons, risk their freedom and lives, and declare that they are ready to die for freedom and future generations.

In a country that houses so many different ethnic groups, it is often difficult to find a common voice. However, with the outbreak of the #EndSARS movement, the divisions along ethnic and religious lines have largely disappeared. The protests have promoted a national character in almost all states and made the population aware of how much power they possess as a mass. If someone had predicted ten years ago that Nigeria would move to such an extent, such a person would have been ignored or stamped as a dreamer. Young people around the world organized themselves with great success through social media. Donations were collected to provide protesters with food, water, and medicine. There was also extensive worldwide support from human rights organizations, international media and personalities, especially from the film, sports, and music industries, and from numerous politicians.

The Catholic Church and the bishops of the country also call for dialogue on the margins of the protests of young people against the police, in the spirit of the encyclical “Fratelli Tutti.” In this social encyclical, Pope Francis explains that the best policy can be described as a form of charity because it serves the common good (180) and has an open dialogical concept of the people (160). Thus, Pope Francis opposes populism, which abuses the entirely legitimate concept of “people” for instrumentalization for their own interests (159) (from Vatican News, “Encyclical ‘Fratelli Tutti’ – A Summary”).

After initial denial, the Nigerian government had to acknowledge the #EndSARS protest’s #5 demands:

The protesters demand:

  • The immediate release of all arrested protesters;
  • Compensation for all victims of the SARS unit;
  • An independent commission to investigate the SARS unit and prosecute SARS unit crimes; A psychological examination and retraining of the SARS unit;
  • A more appropriate salary for Nigerian police officers.

However, it remains to be seen whether the current government concession and implementation of the demands will occur.