Bola Tinubu: Why There Was No ENDSARS Level Protest
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Opinions - April 11, 2023

Bola Tinubu: Why There Was No ENDSARS Level Protest

The 25th of February elections which ushered in Bola Tinubu as the president-elect was one reportedly marred by electoral violence and malpractices. The results of the elections have been largely contested by political contenders who suffered defeat at the polls. Leading the fight is the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi who submitted a 5 prayer petition at the Tribunal against Tinubu.

Recall that Nigerian youths played a significant role in Obi’s rise to prominence in the just concluded election. As Nigerians anticipate the ruling of the election tribunal and the inaugural ceremony of the president-elect, it is important to question why there was no ENDSARS-level protest against Tinubu’s win. Why did the teeming supporters of Peter Obi — largely youths who led the #ENDSARS protest — not organise a nationwide protest to convey their displeasure as predicted by many? What could be sponsoring the silence of the Obidients? Let’s quickly examine the following reason.

Obidients are mourning their loss

Peter Obi’s supporters were positive that the election was going to be free, fair and credible as promised by the nation’s electoral commission, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). According to Chimamanda’s Letter to the US, Nigerians went out to vote holding in their hearts a new sense of trust. They hoped that the 2022 Electoral Act, which gave legal backing to the electronic accreditation of voters and the electronic transmission of results will help voters elect leaders of their choice.

Ahead of the election, Obidients took to social media to advise Nigerians to get their voter cards, they also went ahead to sensitise them on the need to come out en masse and vote. They reassured themselves that it was time to take back their country through their votes cast. However, things didn’t go as planned. The electoral umpire did not stay true to its promise and the election was reportedly rigged. 

The anticipated victory eluded the Obidients and they cringed in sorrow at their defeat. Crushed in spirit, a lot of them have retreated to their cubicles vowing never to participate in elections. This was evident in the low turnout recorded in some states during the gubernatorial and state assembly elections.

Nigerians have lost hope in the country

Protests are driven by the demonstrators’ hope for change. Nigerians started the  ENDSARS protest against the now-disbanded special anti-robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigeria Police Force because they were displeased with their operations. They hoped that the government will look into their demands and dissolve the unit which was associated with harassment, extortion and extrajudicial killings of suspects. 

While SARS was disbanded, other demands were left unattended. Some youths who used the protest as a conduit to vent their anger against their leaders were shot in Lagos on the 20th of October, 2020. The reaction of the Nigerian government to the protest and the killings made many Nigerians lose hope in the country. Most of them concluded it was time to leave the country as their last chance of a positive change was the 2023 general elections. Their hopelessness made them result to other means of expressing themselves rather than organising an ENDSARS-level protest.

Because the ENDSARS protest didn’t achieve its desired result

Reports say protesters demanded the immediate release of all arrested protesters, psychological evaluation and retraining of all disbanded SARS officers prior to their redeployment, compensation for all victims of police brutality, investigation and prosecution of errant police officers, and increased police salary. A close examination of these demands and what is happening today reveals that the protest, though groundbreaking, was largely not successful.

This could be one of the reasons why there was no ENDSARS-level protest in reaction to Tinubu’s win.

Due to fear that it will be hijacked by hoodlums 

The ENDSARS protest which started on a peaceful note was hijacked by hoodlums allegedly sponsored by the government. The hoodlums, undisturbed by security agents, carried out attacks in different parts of the state. Newsmen report that no fewer than 27 buildings, including police stations, media houses, government secretariats, and the court were attacked and left in ruins. These attacks which heightened the state of insecurity in the nation cost the nation more harm than good. 

Nigerians didn’t stage an ENDSARS-level protest because they didn’t want a repeat of what happened in 2020. They may have considered how political thugs could take advantage of the protests to wreak havoc in society. 

Peter Obi kicked against it

Obi who had the support of most Nigerian youths was not in support of a nationwide protest. He repeatedly vowed to challenge both the process and outcome of the poll in court. Obi insisted that as a believer in the rule of law, he was going to follow all legally allowed processes to reclaim his “mandate.” 

He said, “As a firm believer in the separation of powers between the three arms of government, I am conscious that every so often, the Judiciary is called upon to vindicate itself on epochal national public-interest issues. The matter presently before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) is one such litmus test case.”

His no-protest stance was also one of the reasons why an ENDSARS-level protest was not organised to challenge Tinubu’s win.

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