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Here's why young people aren't buying Sanwo-Olu's Peace Walk [Pulse Editor's Opinion]

December 7th 2021, 8:21:29 am

A peace walk announcement by the governor appeared performative. Other things should have preceded it.

Retired Justice Doris Okuwobi submitting the Lagos EndSARS panel report to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu (BusinessDay)

"Dear Lagosians, this month of December, I will be leading a walk of peace to herald the healing of our land.

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"Let me therefore use this occasion to extend an open invitation to all of our youths, members of the diplomatic corps, civil society groups, students, gentlemen of the press, media and other stakeholders to join me," Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu chimed on live TV on November 30, 2021, a year and a couple of weeks after soldiers and police officers shot into a crowd of peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate.

The immediate reaction from majority of the young people who had been invited to this peace walk was predictable. Cue outrage and disbelief.

"This suggestion of a 'walk of peace' sounds like a joke and a very disrespectful one at that.

"People were murdered in cold blood and absolutely no iota of justice has been served more than a year after. How can there be peace without justice?," bellowed rapper Folarin Falana aka Falz, who was one of the young persons name-checked and invited by the governor for this walk.

"I humbly decline the Invitation of Mr. Governor," rebuked popular comedian and skit maker, Debo Adedayo (Mr. Macaroni).

"The government themselves set up a panel. The panel has made recommendations. I believe that genuine peacemaking will begin by first implementing the recommendations of the panel. Then we can begin to trust the government," he added.

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And therein lies the problem with Sanwo-Olu's peace walk announcement. Not enough consultation was done, very few stakeholders were carried along. It all seemed dishonest, artificial or superficial.

It was all like a showman's therapy. Like playing to the gallery, if you would. It was akin to applying a band aid to a deeper sore, at a time a surgical operation would have sufficed.

The idea of a peace walk is inherently a good one, on the surface that is. The walk will symbolize peace, a closing of the ranks to fight a common enemy--which in this case could be police brutality and human rights abuses by law enforcement personnel.

It could signal a new dawn. It could even herald a new way of doing things. It is also good optics in these parts to walk hand-in-hand with government officials for a common cause.

But this issue is beyond optics and good public relations.

You shouldn't be commencing a peace walk until you have orchestrated the arrests and dismissals of police officers who routinely extort, maim and kill for sport.

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You shouldn't announce one until you have told the world who ordered the shooting of unarmed, peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll on October 20, 2020.

You shouldn't announce a peace walk until you have accepted responsibility for a massacre that was caught on phone cameras and beamed live to the world.

You shouldn't be announcing a peace walk at a time government officials and government talking heads are gaslighting the people and telling the world that a massacre never happened.

You shouldn't announce a peace walk until you've orchestrated genuine reconciliation behind the scenes.

Heck, you shouldn't be announcing a peace walk at a time when you have banned all peaceful protests in the city, you shouldn't be announcing a peace walk just weeks after you ordered police to clamp down on peaceful protesters who were commemorating the one year anniversary of the Lekki massacre.

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You really shouldn't be announcing a peace walk while cherry-picking and denying the report of a probe panel you commissioned and inaugurated.

Young Nigerians have been lied to by government for far too long. There's decades of distrust at the core of the breakdown of the social contract between the government and the governed.

One way of repairing this broken contract is to swing into action and display good intention. Show these young people that you are the genuine article just this once. Be proactive, solve problems. Like, actually govern.

Sanwo-Olu did admit that no one believes government these days because of decades of bad governance. He is right on the money there.

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  • Pulse Editor's Opinion is the viewpoint of an Editor at Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the Organisation Pulse.

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Jude Egbas

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