Alhaji Salihu Lukman, Director General, Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), has said that the lack of visibly identified leadership for the EndSARS protesters was capable of forestalling any negotiations with the Federal Government.
He said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, adding that the lack of visible leadership was not advantageous to the protest as it made it vulnerable to takeover by hoodlums, who caused mayhem in several parts of the country.
“The disadvantage of protests with undercover or virtual leadership, especially by young people in an emerging democracy like Nigeria, is that potentials for leadership recruitment is blocked.
“The second disadvantage is that the prospect for negotiation, especially with the genuine leaders of the protest, is remote.
“Thirdly, capacity of the organizers to control the protest and ensure that desired outcomes were achieved is also weakened.
“All these contributed to making the protest vulnerable, which resulted in the sad hijack by criminal elements and the widespread destructions and looting that followed in parts of the country,” he said.
Lukman noted that the nation’s democracy was imperiled where there was no capacity to negotiate interests and broker compromises, explaining that both the citizens and political leaders must seek common grounds to “transform all political structures into active platforms for interest negotiations.”
He stressed that our democratic development should be about the significant compromises brokered and the extent to which citizens, on account of the compromises, were able to feel a sense of belonging.
“Any democracy can be adjudged to be working well if, through the different compromises it produces, citizens are able to feel a sense of belonging.
He added: “A major requirement needed may have to do with the task of aligning the vision of political leaders with the hopes and aspirations of citizens.
“Interestingly, it is always much easier for citizens to align themselves with the views of political leaders, but such views may or may not necessarily equate to visions.
“However, citizens can simply hope that their interests are represented in the views of leaders.”
Lukman appealed to political party leaders at all levels to liberate themselves and shed off any fear of citizens’ engagement, internal disagreements, political negotiations and the possible compromises that may emerge both within the party and in the country.
“Fear of citizens’ engagement and political negotiations is largely what is emboldening political opponents, whose credentials on this score are anything but attractive,” he said.
He added that the structures of political parties must be open and broadened to accommodate everyone, otherwise the country’s democracy would remain stagnant and limited to electoral contests with the risk of vicious circles for the current leadership.
PGF director general said this was critical for our democracy to develop to the level of producing compromises on a permanent basis, and with Nigerians across all sectors based on corresponding respect for every interest in the country,
He noted that at this critical point of our development as an emerging democracy, the priority should be producing political comprises through debate and negotiations.
It was reported that the #EndSars protests, which were about alleged police brutality in the country, extended to other issues before it was hijacked by hoodlums who wreaked havoc in some parts of the country, killing, looting and burning of both public and private property.