On 22 October 2020, in the aftermath of the Nigerian Army shooting and killing of peaceful youths protesting at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, the leadership and members of Nigerians In Diaspora Organization World Wide (NIDOWW) invited other Nigerian Diaspora organizations to an emergency town hall meeting to discuss and take a stance on the events that unfolded in the homeland.
Welcoming participants, who represented numerous countries of North and South Americas, Asia, Oceania, Africa and Europe, the Chairman of Nigerians In Diaspora Organization (NIDO) Europe, Kenneth Gbandi, said it was important that the Diaspora took a position on the unfortunate incident.
After exhaustive an elaborate on the #EndSARS protests in particular and the situation in Nigeria in general, the meeting expressed its solidarity with the peaceful youth protesters, who were voicing out the issues confronting them in Nigeria with regards to SARS and other law enforcement abuses. The meeting condemned the brutal killings of some youths during the protests, describing them as appalling and unjustified.
NIDOWW condemned the path of the Lagos State Governor and the Military toed which culminated in the killings of the innocent youths.
Nigerians in Diaspora see the shootings at the Lekki Toll Gate and other parts of the country as one too many from the hands of those who should be protecting the lives of its citizens.
The town hall meeting also condemned the wanton destruction of properties and facilities by hoodlums, who infiltrated the peaceful demonstration, resulting in the destruction of many economic assets.
“We shall continue to monitor the situation. We shall use all peaceful/legal avenues open to us, locally and internationally, to demand and ensure that whoever is involved in the killing of unarmed peaceful protesters in Nigeria, would henceforth be held accountable
“The Nigerians in Diaspora Worldwide therefore unitedly join the peaceful youths of #EndSARS in demanding for:
a. increase in the salary of police officers
b. payment of compensation to each of the families of those killed by SARS/Police
c. the setting up of judicial panel to investigate all cases of SARS/Police brutality and to recommend appropriate punishments for all erring officers
d. unconditional release of all #EndSARS or #EndSWAT protesters detained by the Nigerian Police
e. reduction in the salary and allowances (total package) of all members of the legislative and executive arms of the Government at both the state and national levels, to align with other countries in socia-economic situation similar to Nigeria’s.”
Furthermore, the Diaspora exchanged ideas in search of the root causes of the youth outcry, the shootings, and the aftermath thereof and wondered how we arrived at this point. Youth unemployment was identified as one of the causes, noting that according to Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigerian unemployment rate as at August 2020 stood at 27.1% with the youth being the majorly unemployed.
Moreover, the Diaspora think tank identified security challenges as another cause of the crisis in the country.
The rootcause of the current crisis in Nigeria was partly identified to be the current Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It was pointed out that youth unemployment results from absence of investment in services and industries which in turn results from absence of adequate infrastructure and stable electricity both of which are controlled by the central government through the 68 items in the “Exclusive List” and 32 items in a rather unusable “Concurrent List” of the 1999 Constitution.
In effect no state government or private enterprise can, for example, effectively build a power plant to power investments for local creation of jobs for the youth.
Furthermore, in the same exclusive list are Security and Police. The youth outcry against police brutality and the ensuing shootings and killings by the security outfits, are primarily the direct effects of a missing regional policing. To help root out the cause of these social and criminal malaises, the meeting made an urgent and bold call to dismantling of the 1999 Constitution and go back to the regional constitutions which were the basis of the Federation that Nigerians signed into at independence.
“This is a necessary and inevitable bold step solution which majority has strongly sought for over 5 decades.”
It was further emphasized that constructive competition is very healthy for development. Application of the suggested solution to the root cause of this crisis will bring about healthy competition through regional activation alongside decentralization. The suggested solution will eliminate several contradictions that have bugged citizens’ minds and troubled developmental partners away from investment.
Security agencies are reminded to take a leaf from the management of similar protests around the world. The case of yellow vest protests in France can be cited, which lasted for over 54 weeks whereby the security forces were there principally to protect the protesters and not kill them. Killing of peaceful protesters ignites anarchy as observed in the aftermath of Lekki toll gate and other parts of Nigeria.
“The Diaspora urges our youths to dissociate themselves from rioters, vandalizers and looters. When Nigeria burns, Africa burns. African sister countries want Nigerians to engage our Governments for good governance.”
The worldwide family of Nigerians in Diaspora used the moment to remind the Federal Government to constitute without further delay the Board of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission in accordance with the extant gazette/law. NIDCOM board should be more actively felt in a situation such as has emerged.
The place of the youth in collaborative nation building should not be overlooked. To this end the Nigerians in diaspora, under the leadership of NIDO, urge the federal government and private sector establishments, especially international companies doing business in Nigeria, to involve the youths. Furthermore, Nigerians in Diaspora should be included in all levels of government; local, state and federal.
Concluding the town hall meeting, Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDOWW) called for 20 October to be declared Nigerian Youths’ Day to mark the day Nigerian youths stood up peacefully against oppression with the hashtag #EndSARS.
Hon. Kenneth Gbandi (Chairman, NIDO Europe)
Dr. Obinna Kingsman (Chairman, NIDO Africa)
Engr. Obed Monago (Chairman, NIDO Americas)
Engr. Prof. E. C. Ejiogu (Chairman, NIDO Asia)
Hon. Gary Linus Unamadu (Chairman, NIDO Oceania)