#EndSARS: Time For Strategic Retreat – By Gbemiga Ogunleye

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Who can say that the youth who have been on the streets in the last 13 days have no genuine grievances?
Even the President, the Vice President and the leaders of the National Assembly have publicly acknowledged that leaders past and present have failed the nation.
Although the government has granted some concessions: disbanding the discredited SARS , setting up judicial panels of enquiry to investigate the atrocities of the disbanded SARS and giving compensation to victims of SARS’ atrocities, the Youth have refused to leave the streets, insisting that government can not be trusted.
I concede that it’s difficult to fault the argument of our children.
But in the circumstances where schools are being shut as a result of the protests, where public servants and self-employed citizens are unable to go in search of their daily bread, where some Nigerians have invaded the prisons and freed prisoners; where some people have taken advantage of the situation to molest and harrass policemen and innocent citizens, it’s time the brilliant and patriotic young men and women behind the protests , took a second look at their strategy.
They should elect their leaders, meet with government and reach a consensus.
The pain of those they are fighting for is becoming unbearable.
In canvassing this position, I am reminded of the story of the tortoise and his in-laws.
Tortoise went to the farm of his in-laws and stole some tubers of yam. The in-laws were so angry that they tied Tortoise and dragged him to the market square where those going to the market early in the morning would see him and mock him.
At dawn people going to the market were shocked to see Tortoise in that state. Upon being told what crime Tortoise had committed, they all joined hands in abusing Tortoise, describing him as a shameless in-law.
However, when they were returning in the evening, they couldn’t believe their eyes that Tortoise remained tied to the same spot they saw him in the morning.
In unison, they all turned to face Tortoise’s in-laws: “Do you want to kill him?”
“Is he not your in-law?”
“Because of ordinary yam.”
“How much is the yam sef?”
I can’t remember in recent memory any protest that has the kind of support and acceptance as the current protests.
I don’t want our youth to squander the enormous goodwill they are enjoying.
This protest, should be the first in the series in the efforts to change our country for the better.
The next phase should be for the youths to ask INEC to commence the voter registration exercise so that our young people can register in large numbers and seek to influence the electoral process by either joining enmass the parties of their choice or influencing the choice of candidates to be presented by the political parties.
This is the finest hour of our youth.
Only a foolish General says ‘no retreat, no surrender’.
A wise General knows when to retreat and go back to the drawing table.
Long live Nigerian youth!
Solidarity forever!

– Ogunleye is a respected journalist and former Provost, Nigerian Institute of Journalism

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