I am compelled to write this open letter after watching and analysing the #EndSars protests all over the nation, the reactions, the feedbacks and the ripple effects of the violent turn in the last few days.
The death of some in few parts of the country is truly regrettable but I can’t blame the men of the Nigerian Police Force for defending their police station and their lives too. However, it is expedient to state categorically that this struggle is not against the Nigerian Police men or the security officers because we have many of you as friends, relations and neighbors; we know what you go through and can identify with your pains and regular humiliations.
I am a son of a late retired police officer and I knew how my Dad hated the organization because of the rottenness, inhumane circumstances and very unpleasant working environments. If they were that bad in 1978 when he voluntarily retired, I can only imagine what you guys are going through now.
What the protesters are doing were ignited by what very few of you did but I believe strongly that the good men of the Forces (military inclusive) are the major beneficiaries of this protest because until the welfare of the men of the Forces are well reformed and executed, there can’t be peace again. Yes, that is the way the mind of youths works; this protest may be suppressed but mark my words, it can erupt any moment again and with greater torrent.
I want to appeal to the men of the Forces that even as you are ordered to take actions against your brothers and sisters, please remember they are not the real enemies here, our leaders have left us impoverished for too long. The conditions in your barracks, the state of your uniforms, the illegal cuts from your salaries and allowances, many of you can only put your children in public schools, still with the inability to pay bills at home and in the neighborhood.
We identify with you in all these and we believe a new Nigeria will see you doing your job with great dignity. The soldiers will no longer go to war with obsolete armoury and allowances meant for battles not paid. The sabotage in the fight against internal terrorists will be something of the past and together, we can sigh for relief as the country takes true steps of progress.
I appeal to you to do your duties but with utmost compassion, even as we keep engaging the youths never to see the men of the Force and military as their enemies. The systemic rot is pathetic but it’s the agitation for #EndSars that has lent voice to the pains of many decades.
The hatred is not against the Police Force or our patriotic military personnel but against the systemic decay and institutional bastardization we all suffer. When you guys are not putting on your uniform, we know what you go through, when you put it on, we also know the humiliations and risks you endure. However, this is your fight and the birth of a new Nigeria is for us all and the generations to come.
This is time to let the men of the Police Force know they are our friends, the military is doing their best to keep our territorial integrity but our leaders must stop wasting the lives of our security personnel and do the needful to all the ranks and files of the Forces.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria, if our leaders allow it to live.
Rotimi Johnson -Ojasope
*Please distribute on all social media platforms, particularly to the uniform men you know.*