By Akpos Oghenetage
An activist former labour leader in Delta State, Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay has expressed concern over the degeneration of the peaceful youth protest nationwide into violence.
Macaulay, a former Chairman of the State council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said that the #ENDSARS protest was valiant, a noble cause that was birthing a new Nigeria.
The labour activist who also chaired the Delta State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), said that he believed and supported the ideals of the youth protest noting that all through his years in the labour movement, he stood for similar principles that were geared towards a better Nigeria.
“All my years in the Labour movement, this crave for a better Nigerian society was my motivation. So seeing our youths organizing themselves in civil protest they should be encouraged and protected,” he stated.
Accordingly, he urged the leadership of the National Assembly (NASS) and the Nigeria’s Governors Forum (NGF) to come together and dialogue with the leadership of the #ENDSARS to find amicable solution to the demands of the youths, arguing that it was beyond SARS as the entire nation was now aggrieved.
“The deployment of the military to the streets is not the answer because they are dealing with an aggrieved society. It’s not just about those who are on the street protesting, the country is aggrieved; the military is not trained to handle civil matters and this protest is a civil protest not a criminal case.
“What happened in Lekki has given a new dimension to this protest that the government should be wary of moving the army to the street; and it will not augur well for our image at the level of international relations with other countries.
“Drafting soldiers to the streets will not help us. The Lekki incident is enough for us to keep off the soldiers because until the Lekki shooting there was no violence, lekki shooting triggered off the violence so why draft more soldiers to the streets. So the army should be withdrawn.
“The meeting between the IGP and the Senate president is not the answer because the IGP is an accused person in this matter and you do not expect him to find a solution to the matter in which he is being accused.
“In every civilized society and democracy police provide security for the protesters, they guard them to make sure that miscreants don’t infiltrate them and that they don’t also do anything silly, so any where the ENDSARS are situated, the police must provide them security so that when anything happens outside that gathering, they will know that these people are hoodlums and should be handled as criminals.
“As an activist and a former labour leader, after spending the greater part of my adult life protesting I cannot fold my hands or keep quiet seeing my younger ones being killed without speaking out
“Let the government know that the democracy we are enjoying today is the outcome of the protest by some of us at a younger age. So they cannot afford to silence civil protesters.”
Macaulay, a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), however condemned the attendant violence especially the killings and destruction of government property noting that it was contrary to the objective of the quest for growth and development of the society.