Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to restrain the military and other security agencies from using brute force as a way of quelling the current #ENDSARS crisis but embrace dialogue.
He made this call in a statement released in Abeokuta on Wednesday titled ‘Statement on violence against protesters in Nigeria: An appeal for calm.’
It came on the heels of the killings of unarmed #ENDSARS protesters allegedly by the military at the Lekki Tollgate, Lagos on Wednesday around 7pm.
The military had denied deploying any troops to the Lekki Tollgate.
The former president who said his heart was heavy, and expressed sense of concern about the ongoing violence in the country, advised President Buhari, as a father to also attend to the demands of the Nigerian youths through dialogue.
He added that most of the demands of the protesting youth, which Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State swiftly took to the President, “are not unreasonable and can be met without anyone’s political interest or arnbition being threatened.”
He said the shooting and murder of unarmed protesters, no matter the level of provocation, had never been effective in supressing public anger and frustration.
Instead, he warned that such actions would only reinforce the anger and frustration of the populace and close the window of dialogue and peaceful resolution.
He said it was clear that President Buhari and his lieutenants did not exhaust the opportunities for dialogue with the protesters before resorting to use of force.
Obasanjo who said it was worse that there was denial of wrongdoing in spite of overwhelming visual evidence, added that a great harm had been done but it could be stopped before it completely spirals out of control.
He noted that the nation was at a critical moment in this crisis and the President must act now before it is too late, stressing that “this time demands leadership and mature leadership at such.”
While he appealed to the youths to give peace a chance while making their legitimate demands, he said it was imperative that leaders at all levels, starting with the President, must demonstrate meekness, humanity, and sincerity in meeting the legitimate demands of the protesters and ensuring that justice was served where it must be served.
He described these as the most potent ways of ending the crisis, adding that the youths must be mindful of miscreants who would infiltrate their ranks and give the protests a bad name only so that trigger-happy forces would kill them.
He said this was yet another moment when the nation was on the edge of a cliff, warning that “Our individual and collective actions now and in the next few days will determine where we will go as a nation.”