Retired military officer, Capt. Aliyu Umar Babangida has warned the federal government to resist the temptation of deploying soldiers to quell ongoing nationwide protests against operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, saying the boomerang effect will be difficult to manage. Rather, the protesters should be engaged in genuine negotiations that will convince them of the seriousness on the part of the government to address the issues, he said.
Capt. Umar gave the advice in an exclusive chat with Vanguard on Tuesday, saying the originators of the protests are young enlightened minds that will stand their ground if the government chooses to unleash military might against them.
While noting that dialogue will bring about peace between the protesters and government, Umar called for the use of some influencers who understand the peculiarities of the youths, rather than the old model of sending “high powered delegation,” to act as an interface.
He said: “If you look at the original #EndSARS protesters, they are not riffraff and miscreants but well educated middle age graduates. They are not like when politicians are campaigning, you see thugs and okada (motorcycle) riders. This is one protest in Nigeria that has class. What government doesn’t understand is this: If you chase those educated young minds off the streets, they will go back to their homes and protest on their phones with data.
If they protest online, it will have a more global outreach than what they are doing here now. COVID-19 taught us how to work from home and so, these enlightened minds will protest from homes and form platforms that will have a global outreach.
“The dynamics and demography of this protest are what our politicians are probably too old to see. There is no connection between the generational politician and that generational youth. The reason is simple: The youths are people we call millennia. Millennia are born from 1980 to date. Millennia’s technology and economy are different from mine.
I belong to the generation next. Before my generation, there was the baby boomer generation and before it, there was a generation industrial age. Most of our leaders and politicians fall between the industrial age generation and the baby boomer generation.”
He continued: “The technology, socio-cultural, political and economic trends in their most formative years are different from ours. These youths you see on the streets are not people who are used to hearing “high powered delegation” and “we are on top of the situation” stuff. No! Right from when they were in schools, they were used to touching buttons and getting responses instantly. When I was in school, for instance, we used to copy notes but today, they don’t copy notes.
The download books into their phones unlike us that used to carry big bags with big books. Now, the average millennia have up to 70 books on his phone. He can sleep during lectures and record the lecture live. He will play it later and listen to it. In my time, it’s either I was present or absent.
“To communicate with these people, you have to look for influencers, facilitators and coordinators and some kind of interface that can convert your old ideas to what is palatable to them.”
If I were the IGP
To bring an end to the protests which have since turned violent, Capt. Umar advised Inspector General of Police, Muhammad Adamu to look out for influencers that speak the language of the youths to the interface for peace to reign.
“If I were the IGP, I will first go for the officers that killed that innocent boy, Isiaq Jimoh, and tell the youths that I have the culprits. Having done that, I will go for Olamilekan Moshood Agbeleshe, popularly known as Laycon, winner of the 2020 Big Brother Nigeria. Laycon will become the interface. This is a small problem.
APC to pay a heavy price if…
“What the North-East insurgency was to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in 2015, if care is not taken, is what #ENDSARS will do to the All Progressives Congress, APC in 2023. Just as Boko Haram was PDP’s albatross and they paid dearly for it, APC may also end up paying dearly for #ENDSARS because 102 million Nigerians are millennia,” he added.