#EndSARS Protesters Sponsored By Politicians — Tanko Yakassai

95-year old elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai in this interview with Vanguard's Chioma Gabriel, on Editor Special Features has said #EndSARS protesters where actually sponsored.

The questions and answers;

What’s your take on the recent EndSARS protests across many states in Nigeria and even outside Nigeria? 

I saw what happened and I saw it coming and I know some people incited the youths to do what they did. At this stage, I think it is not proper to engage in activities as inciting people against their motherland. If there is anything that is not going the way it should, the youths should be educated about it so they can agitate but not to revolt. 

I don’t know if you read a pamphlet State and Revolution, a meaningful revolution is one that is based on ideology, which is on an objective, a practical objective. Even that is useless if it is led by a political party. A political party should be committed to transforming the society for the better, not a meaningless objective that will end up with nobody winning anything. 

We have seen this kind of thing happen in the Arab Springs. It started with Tunisia and went round the whole Arab world. In the end, Egypt which was moving towards democracy ended up bringing back military rule and sacked the democratically elected government in that country. I know how long it took to get back again. So, I feel strange about what happened in Nigeria. 

I was once a young man, I’m 95 years now and I know what I can do correctly or not. But when I was 19, 20, 22, I was really ready to do anything. Now, what I find strange is that the people who are inciting the youths are around my age. One day, all of us will die and leave the country in the hands of our children, who are probably better than us. We should not be inciting our children and grandchildren to do what they are not clear about. It is wrong. 

So, you believe the youths were incited?

How can you ask this question? I saw the handwriting on the wall a long time ago. I believe you were not around at the time around 1965 in the South-West during an election when something similar happened. People who were travelling on the road were stopped and massacred. I knew somebody who was thoroughly beaten and they thought he was dead and they left him but he was discovered to be alive later and taken to hospital for treatment. It was around 1965 and it happened in Lagos and the South-West. I was quite young then. 

It is believed the protesters acted independently, they had no leaders

They had leaders. In any case, what was the complaint of the youths? They started with #EndSARS and police brutality. Immediately they started the protest, marching on the streets, Buhari said he has dissolved that arm of the police, which means the demands of the protesters had been achieved and he brought in a new one, SWAT. There must be police in Nigeria as they have all over the world. We cannot live without the police. That would be dangerous. 

The government listened to the protest against police brutality and took action. But the leaders who were using the youths continued to incite them and the youths started changing from one thing to another. I was a revolutionist but I realised there is a limit to what you can do, otherwise, it would be counter-productive. If people are in their 90s, then the best they can hope for is to live for another 10 years. Even if you survive over 100 years, you can hardly get up by or do things by yourself. 

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Posted By On 12:00 Mon, 23 Nov 2020

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