EndSars: Nigerian youths should channel protest to Political Movement – Dr. Wilson Ikubese -Describes protest as a spontaneous reaction from fr
EndSars: Nigerian youths should channel protest to Political Movement
– Dr. Wilson Ikubese
-Describes protest as a spontaneous reaction from frustrated Nigerians
Few weeks ago, Nigerian youths embarked on peaceful protest tagged #EndSARS to demand the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit over police brutality and the incessant harassments and extortions of innocent Nigerians, as well as, other reforms in the Nigerian Police Force (NPF).
The #EndSARS movement dates back to 2017, where Nigerian youths used the hash tag to share their experiences on violence and assault perpetrated by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad. However, the movement only revived in early October, after a video emerged of police officers alleged to be members of the SARS unit, killing an unarmed young man.
Two forms of drawing attention have been adopted by Nigerians. One is through the use of social media platforms where the #EndSARS and #EndPoliceBrutality hash tags have been trending across the country and worldwide for days now and secondly, through peaceful protests which started in Lagos and later spread across the country.
What started out as a peaceful demonstration by thousands of youths, degenerated into chaos after the protests were hijacked by hoodlums and this was followed by vandalization of both public and private properties, looting of houses and most especially warehouses where Covid 19 palliatives were kept in some states, and subsequently the attacks on peaceful protesters in Lekki tollgate, Lagos state.
However, so many reactions have trailed the aftermaths and fallout of the protests, as individuals have voiced out their opinions on issues surrounding the EndSARS protest and some other points to take home. Out of the numerous reactions, Dr. Thomas Wilson Ikubese, the Chief Medical Director, Sckye Hospital, gave kudos to the youth for speaking out and for showing the entire world and the president of the country that they aren’t lazy as supposed to what he said about them.
The 2019 Nigeria Presidential Aspirant in a chat with the Chronicle crew also advised the youths to take up the gains of the protest into a political movement, in other to salvage the country from the illness she is facing.
Can we know some other things about you sir?
Like I said earlier, I am the Medical Director of Sckye Hospital, a former Nigeria Presidential Aspirant and the convener, “Yes We Fit” Revolutionary Movement. I was born and also spent the first twenty- one (21) years of my life in Lagos State; I proceeded afterwards to the University of Benin, in Edo state to study Medicine. Upon graduation, I came to Akure, Ondo State to set up a practice which is Sckye Hospitals Limited with interest in maternal care; mother and child affairs and we have been running free antenatal care in the hospital since 2004 up till date. I see that as my little contribution to the society.
Women who are pregnant come in here; their registration card is free, all of their blood tests; HIV, PCV, blood group, genotype is free, all the scanning is done free for them, the urine tests are done free and when they also deliver their baby, they go home free without paying any Kobo. We’ve been the only private hospital doing that as far as I know for years. So, I see that as my own little contribution to the society.
I also have interest in not necessarily politics, but in governance. I believe that Nigeria can be far better; I believe that we have everything it takes to be the best Nation in the World. But we are backward, we are where we are today because of poor leadership and bad governance and that was why I declared to run for the presidential seat in the build up to the 2019 general elections using the book I wrote in 2011 as my manifesto. I wrote the book in 2011 which I titled “My prescription for Nigeria” basically because as a medical doctor, I believe that Nigeria is sick. And when you have a patient that is sick, to make the patient get well you have to issue prescriptions.
So that is the reason I titled the book my prescription for Nigeria. And all the twenty-one (21) recommendations that I put in the book then was sent to the then President of the country, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who didn’t act on it and I also sent it to the incumbent, President Muhamadu Buhari, who didn’t act on it too. So I used that as my template and my manifesto. But here we are, a lot of waters have gone underneath and I am delighted that the youths are beginning to wake up to demand for good governance. I happened to be the first youth in the country to come out and declare to run for the office of the president, after that many other youths started coming out to declare and I was encouraged about that. So I am glad that they are beginning to wake up and I have no doubt that if that tempo is sustained, sooner or later we have the Nigeria of our dream.
What were the challenges you faced when you contested the seat of the president and what led to your decision to back out of the race?
Like I said, I was the first young man in Nigeria to declare to run for the office of the president and some weeks shortly after I declared, some other young people began to show interest. The likes of Omoyele Sowore declared after that, Fela Durotoye declared, Kingsley Moghalu also declared after that. So I reached out to all of them, and I told them that only one person can be president. I suggested that we come together and have some sorts of internal arrangements amongst ourselves and have something like an in – house election and the person who wins the election will become our touch bearer and the rest of us would set down for that person and collapse our structure for such candidate, they agreed to this and we all came together in Abuja and we had the election, although, some of them dropped along the line because they felt that they might not emerge as the consensus candidate and they went behind to twist the narrative to their gullible followers.
But those who stayed signed a memorandum that they would step down if they lose out in the election. So, someone like Professor Kingsley Moghalu who missed out by a vote refused to step down and he went ahead to contest at the polls. So, for me it was a very disappointing time seeing that we called fresh blood, new faces who even behave worst than the older politicians who we are trying to take away from the scene. So I want to believe that in 2023, a lot of lessons which had been learnt will be put into action.
Do you think the #ENDSARS protest has any political Influence?
ENDSARS is more than ending SARS (police brutality and extra judicial killings of the force), it is a spontaneous reaction from a people who are frustrated, and from a people that wants a system that works. So for anyone to say that it has a political coloration, it means that person is just been mischievous because for the first time, we realized that we could have a nationwide massive protest and we don’t even have a particular person we can say is the leader, so those who are saying that it has a political coloration are mainly persons from the ruling party. ENDSARS protest is not a political thing; it is a thing that is birthed by Nigerians that want a new nation.
Different reports followed the Lekki toll gate massacre, what is your point of view on the issues that ensued?
What happened at Lekki is very unfortunate. For quite a while I couldn’t sleep after that incident because I never would have believed in my wildest imagination that Nigerian military men would pick up their arms and aim at defenseless citizens who are sitting on the floor, singing the national anthem and waving the Nigerian nation flag. Shortly before then, people started circulating information that once you hold a Nigerian flag, they can’t shoot at you because it is a sign of loyalty to the Nation. But we saw a total deviation from that. So it is very unfortunate that it happened.
The army came up after the incident and said they didn’t go there, that those people who went to shoot are unknown soldiers, the same soldiers that burnt down the house of Fela Anikulapo Kuti? The same unknown soldiers came to Lekki and fired shots at the citizens. But shortly after then, they twisted the story when evidences began to emerge and they said; they were invited by the Lagos State government, and all of a sudden, Babatunde Fashola discovered a mysterious camera even after tollgate was burnt and the remnants had been swept, but he still discovered a strange camera.
Just recently, it was reported that the Lagos state panel of inquiry went visiting mortuaries and they were denied access into the military hospital because it was also recorded that about 20 corpses were moved from the Lekki tollgate to the military mortuary in their truck because it was mentioned that as they were killing those people. They were moving them into their trucks, this was also the same patterns that was used to attack the SHIITES, they killed them, moved them to their trucks, we also saw that same pattern when they attacked the IPOB, they killed them, moved them to a truck and destroyed the evidence and moved them away. So, the same thing was done at the Lekki tollgate, so it is unjust for anybody to come out and say that there was no killing, even the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwoolu that said there was no killing is beginning to go back on his words. It is just a matter of time, the truth will be revealed, though some of us already know the truth, that indeed, there was a massacre.
One of the aftermaths of the ENDSARS protest was the looting of Covid – 19 palliatives in the warehouses where they was kept in some States. Do you think the action is justifiable?
There is no criminality that is justified. Criminality begins when you go into political office and you loot what belongs to the people and you are taking salaries in millions and the people working in the civil service and other aspects of the economy are taking peanuts. That is criminality itself. So you don’t have to go burn house, you don’t have to go and break down a store for you to be deemed as a criminal. A criminal is someone that commits crime against the people; it is when you take what ordinary belongs to them. Therefore, the first sets of criminals are those politicians who went into office with the mindset of defrauding the people which they have been doing since 1999.
Now the people felt that they can’t continue along this part, they are hungry, they are dying and there are some palliatives kept somewhere which they have refused to distribute and the people went there, broke into the place and started packing the palliatives. Have they stolen? Are they thieves? Can you steal your property? I think these are rhetorical questions really… can you steal what ordinary belongs to you? But those who go attacking private properties like going into Shoprites, those are the ones I have reservations about. But those ones who broke into big warehouses where palliatives were kept… I don’t think I will call them criminals, it’s like they have taken what belongs to them by force because they are hungry and they are angry.
What advice do you have for the youths who are trying to take over the political sphere?
Firstly, I will like to give the youths kudos because they have shown that they are not lazy like Mr. President once said that Nigerian youths are lazy. I don’t want them to fell dejected, they shouldn’t feel like they have lost the battle, they shouldn’t feel like they have been defeated, they shouldn’t feel that this is the end of the struggle; this is the beginning of the struggle. They should build on the gains of ENDSARS protest and build it into a political movement. I want to see the youths coming together to form a political party (the youth party) where all the youths will contest within that party, and with that they will be able to gain political power.
Or they can go into an existing political party and take over the leadership of the party, contest elections and win on the platform of those political parties. These are the two options that they have. But the bottom line is that they must channel the gains of the ENDSARS campaign into a political gain by contesting election, winning election and taking over the government.