Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of failing to explore all opportunities for dialogue before soldiers were brought in to disperse the #ENDSARS protesters.
Chief Obasanjo in a letter to the President expressed concern about the use of force on the protesters.
He noted that “the shooting and murder of unarmed protesters, no matter the level of provocation has never been effective in suppressing public anger and frustration. Instead, such actions only reinforce the anger and frustration of the populace and close the window of dialogue and peaceful resolution.
“It is clear that Mr. President and his lieutenants did not exhaust the opportunities for dialogue with the protesters before resulting to use of force. It is worse that there is denial of wrongdoing in spite of overwhelming visual evidence. Great harm has been done but it can be stopped before it completely spirals out of control”.
He also observed that “we are at a critical moment in this crisis and Mr. President must act before it is too late. This time demands leadership and mature leadership at such”.
While appealing for calm on all sides, he said “I particularly appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, in capacities as President of Nigeria, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, and a parent of youth like the ones who have in the last week come out in peaceful protest against police brutality and for improvement in their lives and their living conditions, to restrain the military and other security agencies from using brute force as a way of ending the crisis”.
He also noted that the demands made by the #ENDSARS protesters were not unreasonable.
“Most of the demands of the protesting youth, which Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State swiftly took to the President, are not unreasonable and can be met without anyone’s political interest or ambition being threatened. It is imperative that leaders at all levels, starting from Mr. President, must demonstrate meekness, humanity and sincerity in meeting the legitimate demands of the protesters and ensuring that justice is served where it must be served. These are the most potent ways of ending this crisis now.
“The youth too must give peace a chance while making their legitimate demands. They must be mindful of miscreants who will infiltrate their ranks and give the protests a bad name only so that trigger-happy forces will kill them.
“The destruction and looting of public and private properties will hurt all of us and set us back. The targeting of individuals and groups for attacks and reprisal attacks will only further widen our divisions, escalate the crisis and threaten our fragile unity.
“This is yet another moment when our nation is on the edge of cliff. Our individual and collective actions now and in the next few days will determine where we will go as a nation. May God help us in taking the right steps in the right direction”, he added.