The October 2020 #EndSARS protests started out in Lagos. As with previous protests against SARS activities, not many people expected a large turnout. Days later it transformed into a nationwide protest, holding in several states of the federation. It also evolved into a general demand for an end to bad leadership in the country.
On October 20, 2020, men of the Nigerian Army massacred unarmed protesters singing the National Anthem and waving the Nigerian flag at the Lekki Toll gate, Lagos. Lives were lost and many other protesters sustained injured. It is a sad event that saw the end of the peaceful nature of the protests across the country.
While the ultimate purpose of the #EndSARS protests may not have been achieved, yet, there are some notable takeaways from this collective demand to #EndSARS and bring change to Nigeria. Here are four of them:
1. Nigerians Are Mostly Peaceful People.
The #EndSARS protests proved beyond doubt that Nigerians are peaceful people. Evidence shows that the protests were peaceful until the government started tampering with the whole process by infiltrating thugs into it. None of the actual protest locations witnessed damage or violence by the protesters.
2. Nigeria is Not Hard to Govern.
Secondly, the country is not hard to govern. Sixty years of bad leadership has convinced us that the country is difficult to lead. 60 years of independence; yet the country still has its people in abject poverty. However, it is clear Nigerians only require accountability and the way the leaders of the #EndSARS protests conducted their activities showed that accountability is not rocket science.
3. Nigerians are Good People Broken by Bad Leadership.
Nigerians are largely good people. However, they have been broken by bad leadership. During the #EndSARS protests, there were many cases of protesters returning missing items, donating money to help people that they did not know before the protests and generally looking out for each other.
4. With Sensitization, Nigeria Can change in 2023
Nigerians can change Nigeria in 2023 by building on the #EndSARS protests which gathered momentum due to the wide usage of social media, Twitter especially. The way forward is for everyone to utilize this effective social media to sensitize fellow Nigerians. People must be encouraged to vote leaders with proven integrity and refused to be moved by financial inducements. If this is done, by 2023, everyone will be ready to vote for a credible leader who is not above 55 years old.
Even though the physical protests have ended in most parts of Nigeria, the zeal of the people has not been quenched and the labor of the #EndSARS protesters will not be in vain. October 2020 will remain a remarkable month in the history of Nigeria, for more reasons than one.
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About the author: Blessing Ese Enenaite is a Nigerian writer and fashion entrepreneur. She is the author of the self-help book ‘9 Keys to Successful Living’. Blessing is presently a content writer for a Lagos-based media firm.