By Jare Tiamiyu
The ugly incident that characterized the Saturday’s #EndSARS protest in Osogbo has continued to generate reactions. All right-thinking persons have condemned the attack on Governor Gboyega Oyetola and also the untimely deaths of two young minds.
Governor Oyetola in his statewide address on Sunday has declared that his attackers were not protesters but political thugs, whom he failed to mention. The public acceptance of that fact by the Governor is commendable and he has received commendation on that even from the opposition People’s Democratic Party members.
However, it’s pertinent to look beyond the attack in other to be able to make an informed decisions, as stakeholders. Roles of every actors should be analysed, not to apportion blame but to get clearer picture of violence or better put, political thuggery grooming in our state.
EndSARS protest in Osun was made popular by those whom some present actors have described as “street urchins” and “Yahoo boys”. They were the ones who stormed all police divisions in Osogbo on Friday, October 9th. I witnessed them at one of the police stations in the northeastern part of Osogbo. Their presence at the station was threatening as some were angered beyond control. Some visibly drunk. The DPO of the station and some of the “leaders” did very well to calm them and they left. Before they left, let me state here that my attempt to video them was met with an attack on my phone and myself. Thanks to my loud voice and intervention of one of them before my phone was not smashed.
However, these people have displayed what they have and left the scene. The present set of protesters, especially, those I saw on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday are not in that level. Many of them have shown capacity, ideology and focus. I can say that many have participated in several struggles.
The crisis started with what the government described as “public disturbance” at government secretariat, Abere on Wednesday. As a person, I condemned the damage on some public and private properties. The banner of the governor at the secretariat entrance was torn by some of the protesters. That’s bad!
This was followed by an attack on protesters on Thursday at Nelson Mandela Freedom Park. Yes, this is the beginning of the climax witnessed on Saturday.
After the attack, government people attributed it on a leadership tussle within the protesters. A claim that was debunked by the agitators during a press conference later on that day.
After debunking the claim of crack within the group, those who spoke at the conference made a very important statement that Asiri Eniba was sponsored by the government to attack them. Alas, it had been made earlier by some of them on social media shortly after the attack. One begins to wonder what the state government stand to gain in that as the protest was not against Oyetola but the police brutality.
Instead of the government to address this and provide protection for protesters to demonstrate peacefully, our leaders went haywire and started trading words with protesters. Even though, it’s understood that the governor was not around, but his deputy and others were available, what did they do? Accusing protesters of cultism and other unnecessary accusations, all towards dodging of responsibility.
After that, on Saturday protest started peacefully as usual, but thugs wielding cutlasses, axes and even guns stormed Olaiya and attack them again. They were said to be Asiri Eniba boys again. The government looked somewhere else, no condemnation from the spokespersons or anyone from the government. Even a Commissioner, who is known for his bellicosity was allegedly fingered as the sponsor of the thugs but nothing concerns Osun leaders.
The presence of Mr Governor at the scene is symbolic of his leadership. He reportedly got to the state about an hour before he joined the protesters. To completely identify with them, he put on #EndSARS face cap. Trekked with them for minutes before he started his aborted speech. That shows maybe, if he had been around, he might have addressed them before Saturday.
Another angle that I think we should learn from is the security intelligence of Mr Governor. It’s expected that before Mr Governor would go to a public event, an advance team would have gone. Yes. As a private citizen, I didn’t expect the governor to go to the protest ground again on Saturday, considering the morning attack where weapons were displayed freely at Olaiya like Fortunate breads. Another day would have been okay. The security should know that those who attacked the protesters in the morning have not been arrested and they are still some meters away. More so, the regrouped protesters who stormed the streets again must have prepared for the worst. Are all those fierce looking guys around our governor lacking adequate information? Who knows maybe they only brag at ordinary persons who only wish to have a glance at the governor.
Away from that, to respect the dead souls, I’ll like to skip comment on them. The controversy trailing their deaths is to me unnecessary. May their souls rest in peace. I believe their death will not be vain. My condolences to their families.
Back to the speech of the governor, he said the attack was carried out by “political thugs”. This statement is loaded and to expand it, many people have identified with Oyetola since this incident happened. From Senator Ajibola Basiru to Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to Oriolowo and others, his predecessor has not said anything. What happened? Any link? Anyway the two have continued to deny rift between them and their boys are saying the same. All I know is that Godwin Obaseki and Adams Oshiomhole managed their crisis for three years but what later happened is in the public domain. But Mr Governor too would have done better if he told us those behind the attack.
At this juncture, I hope the Government will not heed to ill-advisers who are saying the protest must be stopped. That will be suicidal. The best thing is to provide security for the agitators. Any attempt to stop it by force will be met with national outcry. Wike’s situation in Rivers is a perfect example. Oyetola would not want the headquarters of the protest relocated to Olaiya junction.
As the protest continues, I think the protesters should shun the idea of no leader. No ship without captain. Someone must be responsible for something. The message I received after a story on our platform (InsightMedia) referred to Ayo Ologun as one of the leaders of the protest revealed that protesters are finding it difficult to trust anybody. This must change at this time.
Lastly, another lesson we should learn is the volatility of Osun State. Political thuggery sector of our economy that was built in yesteryears has grown and everyone is having his share.
God bless Osun State
God bless Nigeria