President Muhammadu Buhari has again urged young people to end their street demonstrations and work with the government to find solutions to problems that stir up their minds.
The President, who spoke yesterday in Abuja at the inaugural National Youth Day, which took place on 1 November and coincided with the African Youth Day celebration, urged young people to participate in constructive dialogue with the government in order to carry out substantive changes to police brutality.
The President, who was represented by the Minister for the Federal Capital Region (FCT), Muhammed Bello, told the gathering that his administration had listened carefully to the appeals of Nigerian youth and had begun work on their protest.
President Buhari also announced that more than 1 million applications had been received since the Youth Investment Fund portal launched on 12 October 2020.
A statement by his Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the President added that the Federal Government “now wants to hear concrete and practical ideas” from youths while acknowledging their constitutional right to peaceful protests.
“You must realise that protests cannot last indefinitely. My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you.
“However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.
“Every successful protest movement the world over has understood that there comes a time when activity must move from the street to the negotiation table. That time for you has come. Do not be afraid of this reality. You should welcome it.
“It is important that we all strive to use this moment constructively. Too many people have already sacrificed too dearly. It is our duty to use this fateful situation to move ourselves to a more just and caring society.
“As youths, you have a nation and a future to build. My government will always be your faithful partner in this essential and patriotic endeavour,” he said.
President Buhari expressed his opposition to the wrongful use and imposition of violent force against innocent, law-abiding persons, particularly young people.
“No one, who is obeying the law, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalised by law enforcement agencies.
“It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.
“To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people.
“This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people towards a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge,” he said.