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#EndSARS Protests: Patriotic Elders Rally Support For Buhari, Say Nigeria Must Come First Before Other Interests

The Patriotic Elders Council (PEC) have thrown their weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that the country comes first before other interests.

The group’s backing, contained in a statement signed by Alhaji Ari Gwaska on Friday, follows public reactions that trailed the EndSARS protests across the country.

Recall that some governors had expressed maximum support for President Buhari amidst pressure from Nigerians and the international community.

The Northern States Governors’ Forum called on all Nigerians to resist what they described as enemies of the nation by supporting the president

And according to PEC, the arson, crime and violent dimension that accompanied the mass action is “condemnable, absurd and unacceptable to every sane and sensible Nigerian”.

The group said, ” there is no need to set the country on fire because the interests of a few elites are endangered or in jeopardy”.

The PEC further said elder statesmen such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo cheering the youths towards the path of destruction will face judgement someday.

The patriotic elders noted that youths are the emblem of the strength of any country and a symbol of its heritage.

The group, however, urged them to maintain total loyalty to Nigeria; protect and defend their only country as it is their only worthy asset.

Read the full statement below:

The ugly dimension of the on-going #EndSARS protests in some parts of the country over the unlawful acts of the Nigeria Police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) should disturb every patriotic Nigerian. We acknowledge the intricate abuses and unprofessional conducts of SARS over the years, precipitating the protests.

The Patriotic Elders Council (PEC) also immensely appreciates the endurance of Nigerians, particularly youths who constitute the bulk of our agile population, worse hit by the unlawful acts of Police brutality and extrajudicial killings as signposted by SARS operatives. Nigerians deserve empathy and the anger is justified. We align with President Muhammadu Buhari and the youths that there is every need to address the abnormalities, restructure and reform the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) entirely.

By it, in the last few days, President Buhari has taken active steps in this direction in the wake of the #EndSARS to assuage the protesters and Nigerians in respect to the demands placed before the government. These include the immediate disbandment of SARS, the dismissal and commencement of prosecution of suspected erring SARS operatives and a directive to State Governors to constitute Judicial Panels of Inquiry for aggrieved Nigerians to make submissions of the rights abuses by SARS officials, with a promise to restructure and reform the NPF immediately.

However, despite these measures, the #EndSARS protests have refused to abate and unfortunately have become violent and bloody, especially in some Southern states. The killings, arsons, destructions, breach of the public peace, law and order, the brigandage and carnages have posed a serious threat to national cohesion and security.

The metamorphosis of the #EndSARS protests into areas alien and incompatible with the original reasons instigating the protests signifies a bad omen. It shows some vested political interests are sponsoring and fueling the mayhem in the country for devious reasons to achieve ulterior motives.

Nigeria generally has been volatile in the period preceding the 2019 general elections, and we all know, some non-state actors secretly plotted to inflict heavy violence and bloodshed on Nigerians. But God averted the doomsday and President Buhari acted proactively to maintain public peace, safety and security throughout the conduct of the elections.

We are conscious of the fact that some political actors defeated in the general elections have nursed a permanent grudge against the victors. It is also undeniable that several underground failed plots have been orchestrated by some political undertakers to make Nigeria ungovernable. It is stating the obvious.

Therefore, the transmutation of #EndSARS protests into violence and bloodshed, in apparent abuse of democratic liberties is gleaned from this prism. And the refusal of the protesters to listen to the voice of reason, in preference for killings and destructions of public and private assets of Nigerians have a strong cord to the existing disenchantments by unjustifiably disgruntled elements in the country.

There is no need to set the country on fire because the interests of a few elites are endangered or in jeopardy. The happenings in the country now are condemnable, absurd and unacceptable to every sane and sensible Nigerian. The fire we have ignited in the country and on ourselves cannot be left for government alone to extinguish. It is our collective responsibility to calm frayed nerves, right the perceived wrongs and ensure peace and security returns to our country.

This is not the right time to sit on the fence, make public inflammatory and inciting statements to embolden the protesters, hoodlums, hooligans and criminal elements to cause more harm and destructions. It smacks of beating the drums of war which will do no one any good. At such trying times, people look unto leaders, serving or past for direction and solace.

To this end, we find the public statements credited to former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and other elder statemen reckless, inciting and wayward. We are particularly piqued at Obasanjo’s irreligious fabrication of lies against President Buhari by accusing it of neglecting the youths, which has led to the agitations. Buhari is a youth-friendly President and there is abundant evidence everywhere in the various subsisting national youth empowerment schemes in the country.

Nothing can be so dishonest as that claim by a former Nigerian leader like Obasanjo. If Nigeria has found itself at the crossroads now because of massive youth unemployment and frustrations, Obasanjo is a major culprit. When he served, the ex-President dubiously sold all public companies, industries and national assets to himself and cronies. He callously squandered Nigeria’s treasures and mortgaged the future. It is uncharitable for the same leader to berate President Buhari who is struggling very hard to re-fix Nigeria and repair the destructions he caused while in office. To now incite protesting youths with such reckless and callous comments is an indication of a mockery of the same compatriots he feigns to speak for their interest. Obasanjo has the reputation of a spoiler and destroyer, but tacitly seeking to bolster youths to compromise national security is very unpatriotic and senseless.

Elder statesmen like Obasanjo and his likes, who are delightfully cheering the youths towards the path of destruction will face God’s judgement someday. And we believe the verdict would be harsh and history can never forgive them.

The incensed elders calling for war should have a rethink. And youths persuaded and goaded into destructive acts against their country and people should remember, they have no other country than Nigeria. PEC makes bold to reiterate that no nation survives a civil war twice. Nigerian youths must rise above the instincts of self-destruction.

PEC calls on protesting youths to sheathe the sword and embrace dialogue at all levels. We are pleading with our children to quit the streets. Youths are the emblem of the strength of any country and a symbol of its heritage.

Therefore, Nigerian youths must maintain total loyalty to Nigeria; protect and defend their only country. It is their only worthy asset. War can never be a substitute for peace or any magnitude of frustration. Those who are out to destroy Nigeria will be put to shame.

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