A political economist and former presidential candidate, Prof. Pat Utomi, has called the #EndSARS protests as a watershed moment in Nigerian citizenship.
“Nigeria does not have a democracy yet”, Utomi said during the commemorative lecture and public presentation of a book edited by Chido Onumah titled, ‘Remaking Nigeria: Sixty Years, Sixty Voices,’ at Alausa, Ikeja in Lagos State.
The event, titled “One Year After #EndSARS, 35 Years After Dele Giwa and the Quest to Remake Nigeria,” was staged to commemorate the former Newswatch editor-in-chief’s assassination as well as youth activism.
According to Utomi:
We need to build citizenship and raise citizens – people who have a passion for a shared humanity. At the bottom of society’s ladder are idiots, people who care just about themselves, and at the next level are tribalists who care only about people who share the same blood or language. For tribalists, everyone who does not share in their parochial base is an enemy.
When these people move up and become citizens, a shared humanity will drive them to do things that are for the common good of all. This is why the #EndSARS protests, for me, marked the arrival of citizenship in Nigeria.
The former presidential contender added that Nigerian democracy has been turned upside down.
Democracy is mea;nt to entail citizens holding government officials accountable. However, the type of democracy we have here is one in which the people fear the government rather than the government fearing the people. We won’t have democracy until we can make government fear the people.
A human right activist, Femi Falana, SAN, urged the youths not to be afraid of non-violent protests, adding that they are “supported by the law.”
He claimed that the government’s assassination of Dele Giwa marked the beginning of bondage in Nigeria. The military junta led by General Ibrahim Babangida determined to conduct bomb strikes on Nigerians before the Boko Haram gang began bombing people. His assassins wanted to make a point, to shock the public by killing him in the most violent and brutal manner possible.