Frontline Labour leader and Vice President, Industrial Global Union, Comrade Issa Aremu, has said that the ongoing #EndSARS protest, is as a result of youths exclusion in the governance of Nigeria.
He, however said, that the development offers a timely opportunity for Nigerian governments to integrate the youths back into the socio-economic development of the country.
Speaking at a press conference in Kaduna on Tuesday, Aremu argued that, for too long through youth mass unemployment, prolonged closures of universities due to ASSU strikes, income poverty and Police criminalization, Nigerian youths have been pushed on the margins of the Society.
According to him, “the crisis at hand is nothing but the price for youth exclusion. If you don’t keep them busy in schools as students, in factories for those with decent jobs, if you don’t stop harassing and criminalizing them on the streets, what you have is what we are seeing on our streets.”
The labour leader said the protest is “a legitimate clarion call” on the part of the youths for “inclusive development” which must be harnessed by various authorities adding that the 5-point agenda offers the basis for government-youth engagement.
He commended some of the state Governors for constituting the judicial panels to unravel the atrocities of the defunct SARS adding that the Federal government should also hit the ground running by having a truce with ASUU, reopen the universities and getting the students off the streets back to the classrooms. The government he also said should launch its much expected 777,000 jobs to creatively keep the youths engaged.
The labour leader observed that it was time Nigeria reaped the “demographic dividend” with a positive impact on economic growth, political stability, by allowing for inclusivity in all aspects of development, adding that “we must replace state capture by the few with mass state democratization that must involve the youths and women”.
Comrade Aremu who was also the Chairman of the Youth and Labour sub-Committee of 2014 National Conference said “a youth bulge” offers an opportunity for development, not a threat.
However, comrade Aremu advised the protesting youths to urgently diversify their strategy from the streets already vulnerable to violence to negotiating tables and meaningful results. “To the extent that the streets draw attention to your plights, streets protest have their value. But the youths must also realize that it was on the streets many of them were brutalized by some police. So the earlier they get off the streets to meaningful discussions with the authorities to punish police brutalities, get them sustainable jobs and return them back to classrooms. The streets have their limitations including providing covers for violent opportunists”!
While acknowledging the trust deficit between the police and the protesters, the labour leader urged the protesting youths to give the current Inspector General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, the necessary support to realize the implementation of the new Police Tactical Team, SWAT, launched in lieu of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).