Presiding Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church (formerly Latter Rain Assembly), Pastor Tunde Bakare, on Sunday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to fish out those who ordered armed soldiers to shoot at peaceful #EndSARS protesters in Lekki, Lagos.
Bakare made this call in his state of the nation address, even as he condemned the looting and destruction of properties in the aftermath of the Lekki shootings while lamenting outright the situation the country had found itself.
“Those who ordered armed soldiers to shoot at protesters should be fished out to face the full wrath of the law while those soldiers too should be prosecuted,” he said.
Bakare, however, said every Nigerian should seek divine intervention and ask the God Almighty to judge and uproot the wicked people.
The cleric, while decrying the arsons on media houses including the Television Continental and The Nation Newspapers, saying some people had been indirectly denied their sources of livelihood, declared that the burning down of public and private properties would only worsen the matter.
He, however, described the nationwide protest against police brutality codenamed #EndSARS as a reflection of the systemic government failure, noting that the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) can be aptly captured as state-aided robbery squad.
According to him, at the root of the issues that confront the Nigerian nation is a foundational problem of nationhood that has persisted from one administration to another and provided a conducive environment for what he termed the State-Aided Robbery Squad (SARS)
Until this foundational problem of nationhood is addressed, the call to End SARS will persist long after the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. No degree of brutal repression of protesters can quench the flame of protests in the hearts and minds of the Nigerian people.
“Your bullets may drive them off the streets, but your bullets cannot pierce their spirits or puncture their resilience. This speech is about how to disband the State-Aided Robbery Squad (SARS) and rebuild the foundations of our nation from the current undesirable state to the Nigeria of our dreams.
“Any attempt to resolve the issues must go beyond the surface to excavate underlying factors. Our overarching challenge is systemic governance failure which, over the decades, has worsened the living conditions of Nigerians. As a result, although the Special Anti-Robbery Squad has been disbanded, the spirit of SARS continues to prowl unchecked,” he said.
Speaking further, the cleric said the #EndSARS protest which was widespread nationwide had shown that the youth had finally woken up, stating that the older generation had failed the younger generation.
Bakare, while saying he was “heartbroken” by the current happenings in the country, said the nation must not pitch generation against each other.
“The hindsight of the younger generation must propel the foresight of the older generation. There must be a unity of purpose across generation,” he advised
This was just as he apologise on behalf of the older generation, who he said had failed the present generation.
“One can understand why the younger generation would so heavily indict preceding generations. At independence, we inherited a promising nation, but we are bequeathing a predatory nation to the young generation. We inherited a nation whose structural foundations were built on principles of true federalism, a nation in which the diverse groups had the freedom to determine their destinies, but we are bequeathing a unitary nation, federal only in name, in which subnational expressions are suppressed by an overbearing centre.
“We inherited a nation in which free and functional basic education, as well as affordable and quality tertiary education, guaranteed the path from penury to prominence, but we are bequeathing a nation whose educational system is lying-in-state. We inherited a nation where a young graduate was guaranteed immediate employment with housing and a car loan, but we have bequeathed a nation in which our youth are largely underemployed, unemployed or Yahoo-employed. We inherited a relatively secure nation characterised by a thriving nightlife and a peaceful village life, but we have bequeathed to the younger generation a society grappling with kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, and police brutality. We inherited a banner without stain, but we have introduced a new colour to our green-white-green: blood red.
“This is why there has been a definite generational spin to the protests. It is why we hear rallying cries like ‘You messed with the wrong generation.’
“It is why young people are telling stories of how they went out to protest in spite of the warnings of their parents. It is why you hear the indicting lamentation: ‘If before I was born the generation that were there had fought for a great Nigeria, I won’t be here doing this.’
“It is why some protesters have asked why the likes of Prof. Soyinka, Tunde Bakare, Oby Ezekwesili, Pat Utomi, Femi Falana, the so-called ‘senior activists in Nigeria,’ are not on the streets.
“To citizens of the young generation who are disappointed in the older generation; to those young freedom fighters who believe that the generation of their fathers and mothers has failed them; to those young Nigerians who have stood up to oppression; permit me to stand in the gap to apologise on behalf of my generation and the older
generation for the undesirable state of the nation you were born into.