THE INFLUENCE OF ENDSARS PROTEST ON POLITICAL INTEREST OF NIGERIA YOUTH
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Background of the Study
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, is a special police team that was established in 1992 to counteract the escalating number of armed robberies and kidnappings for ransom carried out by criminal organizations operating across Nigeria (Vanguard, 23 December 2017). When it was originally founded, the unit’s effectiveness was predicated on its capacity to stay secret as well as the manner in which it carried out its operations in order to target criminal groups. SARS operatives conducted clandestine operations while disguised in regular clothing and drove unmarked automobiles in response to community distress calls about armed robberies and other violent crimes. These activities were carried out in addition to police actions. However, throughout its history, SARS has been connected to a wide variety of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, torture, rape, extortion, wrongful detention, and extrajudicial killings.
Nigeria is one of the African countries with a huge total population, a high population density, and a wide range of social diversity. There are more Nigerian youths than inhabitants in numerous other African countries combined. Nigeria’s youngsters have made major contributions to the nation’s advancement in a number of sectors throughout its history, including democracy, governance, politics, the economy, community development, and safety and security (Yusuf, 2019).
In addition, youths in Nigeria have been very involved in self-help activities. When teenagers are given the knowledge and opportunities they need to thrive, their social and psychological dispositions, as well as their level of productivity, may emerge as a progressive force for development. This is contingent on society’s intention to empower youngsters in social, economic, political, and legal aspects, which are some of the difficulties that adolescents confront. Omoju and Abraham (2019) found other young obstacles in Nigeria, such as youth unemployment and underemployment, restricted access to education and a lack of economic prospects, a lack of access to basic education, a high HIV prevalence rate, and a high poverty rate, among other issues. More than a hundred youth groups in Nigeria rallied in 2016 under the hashtag #Not-Too-Young-To-Run for a constitutional amendment in the nation that would decrease the eligibility age to run for political office from 35 to 18 years old. This was done to encourage young leadership and more inclusive politics. The purpose of this proposal is to decrease the minimum age for running for political office in order to enhance responsible management and increased political participation among adolescents (Krook and Nugent, 2018).
Although the Nigerian Youths Organization has existed for a long time, the first structured form of the organization was created in 1934 under the name Nigerian Youths Movement (NYM), with its headquarters in Lagos. Its main aims were to build an united Nigeria from the aggregation of people who already lived in Nigeria and to develop perfect comprehension as well as a sense of common nationality among the various sections of the country. Politically, it focused on expanding the number of indigenous Nigerians working in government and public service, with the ultimate goal of obtaining self-governance. Furthermore, in order to improve communication and cooperation across various tribes, the movement established local chapters in a number of urban areas around the country (Kamarudeen, 2020).
Youth movements may be beneficial or negative; but, in the eyes of the government, any kind of youth movement, whether positive or negative, will affect the government of the day. Because it draws to the government’s notice the fact that certain initiatives, such as the EndSARS youngsters movement, were not fully implemented or carried out, the government is reminded of this fact. Members of the New Nigerian Youths Movement (NNYM), a movement that represents Nigerian youths, are protesting the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit as well as other changes in the Nigerian Police Force. This broader group includes EndSARS protestors (NPF).
Their demands were incredibly clear and crystal clear from the start of the EndSARS campaign. They demanded the government to eliminate SARS, compensate victims of police abuse, and reform the police. The video footage showing police officers, thought to be members of the SARS squad, allegedly killing an unarmed young man sparked the protest (Ukpe, 2020). When hoodlums took over the protests, they converted what had been a peaceful gathering of thousands of youngsters in a few Nigerian states into a chaotic scene. In contravention of the law, a handful of disloyal adolescents took control of the rally and misrepresented the movement’s narrative in order to pursue their own self-centered aims. Youths’ rights were violated, and among other things, lives were lost, property worth billions of naira was seized and damaged, and so on. Other reasons for the protest against EndSARS include Nigeria’s political and economic structures, which did not adequately address the needs of youths. As a result, Kamorudeen came to the conclusion that “political elites’ manipulation of the political and economic structure has endangered high rates of youth unemployment and underemployment, poverty, poor access to quality education, and poor access to political opportunities, thereby influencing Nigerian youths to engage in a series of agitations and violent acts reflected in political thuggery, armed robbery, ethno-religious crises, kidnapping, and so on.” (The high rate of young unemployment and underemployment, poverty, and bad living conditions) (Kamarudeen, 2020).
As a result, the incidence of juvenile violence in modern-day Nigeria is increasing, causing considerable alarm among the general population. This is due to the perception that violence is incompatible with both individual and national growth. Youths are at the core of the majority of the country’s violent episodes, contributing to Nigeria’s decline into a violent nation. There is no area in Nigeria that is immune to some kind of violence. The Boko Haram insurgency, the herdsmen problem, farmer ethno-religious disputes, kidnapping, armed robbery, terrorism, and the SARS protest are examples of these types of violence. In light of this backdrop, the goal of this research is to look at the youth movement, namely the EndSARS protest, as well as the difficulties that youngsters in the country are now dealing with.
As a consequence, the paper has been divided into seven sections. The first part provides a broad introduction, while the second section discusses the conceptual framework. The third piece is an empirical review, and the fourth section looks at youths and Nigerian police in connection to the EndSARS march. This may explain the worsening of the relationship between Nigerian youths and the NPF. Section five of this paper discusses the issues that Nigerian youngsters are now facing. Section six offers ideas, and Section seven concludes. Therefore, this study seeks to examine the influence of endsars protest on political interest of Nigeria youth.
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