#EndSARS: National Assembly, Buhari’s Relationship Goes Sour?

#EndSARS: National Assembly, Buhari’s Relationship Goes Sour?

Abdul Lateef Taiwo Bamgbose

On Thursday, October 22 when President MuhammaduBuhari  seized the opportunity to address the nation after days of pressure from both the international community and concerned Nigerians on the protests by Nigerian youths on the #EndSARS  and the invasion of the Lekki Toll plaza, in Lagos , the broadcast has been received with mixed feelings.

AljazirahNigeria gathered that political observers of the event of the last two weeks have continued to express their disappointment over the failure of the President to address the critical issues of the killing of the protesters at the Lekki Toll plaza by yet to be identified soldiers.

“It has become necessary for me to address you having heard from many concerned Nigerians and having concluded a meeting with all the Security Chiefs”.

Buhari stated in his broadcast, what he failed to mention in his earlier meeting with President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, and Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila in the villa, Nigeria seat of power, to discuss the #Endsars protests.

Few days after the shuttle to the Presidential Villa, the leadership of the National Assembly, perhaps disappointed by President Buhari’s delay in addressing the nation, went further to issue statements which subtly expressed their frustrations.

Short of calling President  Buhari’s bluff, Hon. Gbajabiamila says he would not sign the 2021 Appropriation Bill if compensation for victims of police brutality was not captured in it.

Gbajabiamila said this while addressing Members of the House at plenary in Abuja, Tuesday, October 20.

Mr. Speaker also said that the budget must meet the reasonable demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) before he signs it.

He also said that there is no better time to rethink the system of funding for higher education in Nigeria than now as the current system does a great disservice to the country.

Gbajabiamila promised to visit some of the families of those who lost loved ones to police brutality and to honour the memory of the deceased.

He pledged that the House of Representatives will pass an Electoral Reform Bill in time for the next general elections to continue to improve the process of electing political representatives at all levels.

The lawmaker said that he supports the amendment of the Constitution to ensure that the provisions on fundamental human rights have teeth.

He said that he supports an amendment that will ensure resource control is dealt with equitably so that the next generation of Nigerians does not inherit evident dysfunctions of the current system.

Gbajabiamila urged the youths protesting against police brutality to partner the government for a new Nigeria.

He commended the dexterity of the young people across Nigeria who had called for change as midwives of national rebirth.

According to him, “you have moved a nation to action, and now you must join in doing the hard work of making real the vision of a more just, more prosperous, and more resilient nation.

“We see your true cause, please do not allow your righteous cause to be hijacked by those with bias motives, who see this moment as an opportunity to pursue vendetta, to spread division, exploit the many existing fissures that exist in our society and bring our nation to its knees.

“You have raised your voices and marched to demand a better Nigeria, from Abuja to Washington, to Calgary and London; your voices have been heard.”

AljazirahNigeria gathered that the leadership of the National Assembly had come under pressure to discuss the #EndSARS protest on the floors of the two Chambers , but wary of the implications of the tension, the President of the Senate on  the same Tuesday urged President MuhammaduBuhari to immediately address the nation on the raging #EndSARS protests . There appears to be some point of departure by the President and the National Assembly on the handling of the #EndSARS imbroglio.

Most Senators including the Deputy President of the Senate, OvieOmo-Agege, testified that they had witnessed cases of police brutality in the past.

Explaining the motion, Senator Olujimi said most of the prayers adopted should serve as wake up calls to the government.

She lamented that the government had not been proactive in addressing issues pointing out that this government is worse in that regard.

According to her, ignoring the issues raised by the protesters could push the country into more difficult times.

The specific prayers of the motion tagged “#ENDSARS protest: Need for comprehensive and holistic reform” are:

*That all tiers of government put in place and sustain policies and programmes of socio-economic reforms that raise the standard and quality of life of our people, particularly youths who are leaders of tomorrow;

*That the police and other security agencies operate strictly in accordance with the rules of engagement appropriate to a democratic environment that abjures the use of aggressive and brutal force against peaceful protesters;

*That the Inspector General of Police ensures a holistic, comprehensive reforms of the police to include the overhaul of the welfare, training and medical insurance of all members of the Nigerian Police Force;

*That all Nigerians should resort to use of legal and institutional channels of resolving conflicts and disputes instead of misusing security agencies to secure undue advantages;

That Nigerian youths and the Nigerian citizens should approach the National Assembly Committees on Constitutional Reforms in order to secure far-reaching and holistic amendments that are vital to the restructuring and re-shaping our Federation to make it an inclusive and viable polity;

That the Federal Government should faithfully and comprehensively implement all the five demands of the #EndSARS movement and protesters;

*That the #EndSARS movement and protesters stop their actions and embrace genuine dialogue in order to give the government the time and space to meet their demands.

Meanwhile, the Senate has suspended the plenary for two weeks to enable it to engage Nigerian officials for the budget defence. But many of the Lawmakers believe the decision to suspend the plenary by the leadership was to wade off the pressure from the Lawmakers who were angling for a show down following the alleged refusal of President Buhari to rein in on the protesters.

A lawmaker from the South-west, who does not want his name published told AljazirahNigeria that, “ We are just coming from a recess, when we were to resume, to avoid the debate on the hike in fuel price and increment in electricity tariff, the Leadership decided to extend the resumptions date and since we resume no lawmaker was allowed to discuss this issues that affects Nigerians”.

At least Thirty-five members of the National Assembly have called on President MuhammaduBuhari to identify and prosecute for murder, all the officers who participated in the Lekki killings.

Some soldiers were caught on camera opening fire at unarmed protesters who sang the national anthem as they waved the Nigerian flag.

The lawmakers, 4 Senators and 31 members of the House of Representatives issued a joint statement on Wednesday asking that the perpetrators of this massacre be brought to justice. The lawmakers condemned this action by government and security agencies. Further, they said that the massacre was totally unwarranted and therefore, inexcusable. They further said that there is no justification whatsoever for security officials who are paid with taxpayers’ money to kill unarmed protesters.

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