The #ENDSARS movement highlighted upon the incompetence of the Nigerian government and the power of the Nigerian people..
Nigeria has been a severe victim of democratic backsliding. Recently the #EndSars movement received massive international coverage and attention.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad was established in 1992 as a unit that would overlook theft crimes however that changed quickly and it turned into an institution spreading terror and murdering innocent civilians. The #ENDSARS movement isn’t a new concept in Nigeria, it’s been an ongoing effort for years to dissolve the institute however the momentum it has received this time around seems promising enough to bring some sort of systemic change. Mass protests all across Nigeria as well as on social media have been effective to get worldwide attention. The #EndSars movement is initiated by the Nigerian civilians against police brutality and the abuse of power by SARS actors.
Key principles of democracy are the ‘right to protest’ and ‘freedom of press, association and expression’ and with the ignition of #EndSars protests across the country have once again reveled the dictatorial nature of Buhari’s administration and how it has constantly been encouraging and supporting violence and aiding in the decline of democracy in Nigeria.
I believe this movement is stronger than ever before because the youth is now beyond frustrated with the incompetence of the administration and the constant violence they have to become victims of at the hands of SARS. Although the consequences protesters are having to face at the hands of the government are undemocratic and unjust; “Freezing bank accounts of protesters, placing them on travel ban or arresting them in their homes, and in the process terrifying their family members” are some examples of what civilians using their democratic right to protest have to endure. The perseverance and determination of civilians is commendable, it’s due to their collective effort that the protests have been able to gather momentum. It’s also worth noting the role women have played in maintaining the movement. In a country like Nigeria where women aren’t as much of a part of political life as men its amazing to see organizations like the The Feminist Coalition a women rights organization crowdfunded more than 147 million Naira (nearly $400,000) that was used to redistributed “with unprecedented transparency, to provide protest clusters with food, water, medical care, security, legal aid, and relief for victims of police brutality and their families”.
#EndSars protests have been reflective of the democratic decline in Nigeria and the authoritarians masked as democratic leaders as well as the abuse of power by everyone associated with SARS. On the other side it also shows the potential the Nigerian people have when they come together and it’s up to them to remain headstrong and eventually change will have to follow.