#ENDSARS: Capacity development, youth inclusiveness as panacea to societal unrest

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Foreclosing the possibilities of youths returning to the streets to commemorate the #ENDSARS protest has become a national discourse, particularly as mobilisation from some quarters over the last few days began to gather momentum. The tales of the protest which turned sour at the heels of the alleged Lekki Toll-plaza shootings purchased for the protest a dynamic narrative which brought unappealing coloration to a protest that started peacefully with prospects of positive intervention. Many Nigerians at the onset of the protest had looked forward to the protest as a possible omen to birthing new realities for national reorientation unto responsiveness and accountability on the part of the Government.

However, the upturn of events to assume violent dimension – a development that charlatans optimised to mete out their escapades – graduated the protests to assume a character clouded with the narratives of controversial definitions. The colossal losses that greeted the Country, particularly Lagos which was a strategic centre for the movement, were unfortunate happenings that grounded economic activities. Lootings of warehouses in search of COVID-19 palliatives, attacks on societal institutions, including security formations, courts, police stations and security units, correctional centres and traditional formations, among others, were events that upturned the protest many were believing would initiate the process for reformation unto the desideratum of a better government. The violence hence, was a cheap hold for criticisms to be meted out against the protest and thus a classification of same as an uncoordinated movement against peace and security.

While the deed has been done, it is only rational the protest serves as a rod of instruction for the Government that it cannot always have it all without accountability. Although the protest was hijacked by mischief makers, it is good enough a flag of thought for the Government to pay attention to the spurring factors of the protest. Hence, giving attention to perusing the patterns of the formative strings through the parameters of hindsight with impact assessment viz-a-viz the realities of the present, towards making rounds of interventions while looking forward to the future, is paramount. It is noteworthy that only when interventions are effected to address the spurring factors that inspired the unrest that a repeat would be avoided.

The need for Government at all levels to constitute, by deliberate approach, strategic measures and interventions that appeal to the senses of satisfying the yearnings of present realities to give to the youths the sense of belongingness is sacrosanct. It has been argued that expecting and demanding patriotism from the youths without giving attention to their development course is an irreconcilable demand. As observed, the pronounced profile of socio-economic and political deficiencies have only left conditions to ample the voice of distrust, dissents, and feelings of disconnect from the Government.

The prevailing realities have called for the significance of broad engagement and inclusiveness with the youths to breach the gap of disconnect and thus, develop a sense and psychology of belongingness needed for patriotism which at the end is paramount for nation building. In a setting that conveys reflections of such engagement, the Lagos State Government, through its Ministry of Youth and Social Development on Tuesday convened a symposium where youths and their ambassadors converged  to discuss parameters of building a better and stronger society, where keen engagement with Government were recorded to take productive dimensions. At the symposium, such assertions as human capacity development, good parentage, conflict resolution, investment in conformity, intergenerational dialogue, documentation of the #ENDSARS panel resolution, impact evaluation, more representation of the youth in decision making processes, emotional intelligence, ‘not taking peace for silence and silence for peace’ among others, were salient points of emphasis noted by the youths as antidote to forestall a repeat of youth unrest as experienced during the #ENDSARS protests.

In the view of Professor of Sociology, and  Debuty Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University, while speaking on the theme, “Rebuilding For Greatness (Peaceful Conflict Resolution)” though rivalry, conflict and competition are imminently and inevitablly a part of every society, what is required is peaceful resolution of conflicts, given the dynamic nature of society which is never static. In his argument,  given the link of economic realities as endogenous factors to conflict, creating employment opportunities for youths is part of the ways to reducing conflicts in the Country. He submitted that compensation for damages, monitoring and impact evaluation over a five year period are paramount to avoiding a repeat of the #ENDSARS. In his own assertions, Prof. Adedeji Oyenuga, Lagos State University, said keeping in view the substantive, procedural, and psychological components of conflict,  listening to all sides remains important, stressing it is significant to be proactive to address latent issues before they degenerate into conflicts.

The clogging of violence and regressive conflicts are largely undesirable for growth and development. Engendering disturbances, insecurity, mayhem and resultant impacts of poverty, it is paramount for the Government to employ the strategic measures of broad engagement, socio-economic interventions and human capacity development courses to establish a climate favourable to growth and development. This is just as it has become important for all stakeholders to give attention to broad commitment towards courses of youth capacity development.