By Tanko Mohammed
In response to the on-going crisis arising from the ENDSARS protests, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed shock and deep sadness at the tragic loss of lives and properties.
President Buhari who made an official statement during a live television broadcast at 7pm on Thursday, stated that he acknowledges the genuine concerns and agitations of members of the public regarding the excessive use of force by some members of SARS.
According to him, “Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country. The choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of our Constitution and other enactments”
“As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.”
“On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.”
Speaking further on police reforms the President said, “With regard to the welfare of police personnel, the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission has been directed to expedite action on the finalization of the new salary structure of members of the Nigeria Police Force. The emoluments of other paramilitary services are also being reviewed upwards.
The President also highlighted various palliative structures set up for the youth. He said, “Our deeds and words have shown how committed this administration has been to the wellbeing and welfare of citizens, even with the steadily dwindling revenues, and the added responsibilities and restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.”
“Government has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted at youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in our society. These included our broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years; the creation of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund,
“Through these, the government is paying three months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small – and medium – enterprises, paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission, giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans; and guaranteeing market for the products of traders.”
“No Nigerian Government in the past has methodically and seriously approached poverty-alleviation like we have done.”
The President added, “In the circumstances, I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better”
“Let me at this point reaffirm the Federal Government’s commitment to preserving the unity of this country. We will continue to improve good governance and our democratic process, including through sustained engagement. We shall continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens are protected.”
“I therefore call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions. Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.”