President Muhammadu Buhari, has warned security agents against the use of force on the protesting youths, saying, it was wrong to use violence to disperse peaceful protesters.
While he warned against using security agents to brutalise peaceful protesters, he also appealed to #EndSARS youthful protesters across the country to leave the streets and come to the negotiation table.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclose the president’s message to the youth in a statement on Sunday.
He said, Buhari, represented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello, had addressed the youths at the maiden National Youth Day programme which held in Abuja.
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Speaking on the theme, “Invest in the youth, secure our future” held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the President said to allow protests is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and belief in democracy.
“No one who is obeying the law, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalised by law enforcement agencies.
“It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish SARS and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.
“To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people.
“This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people toward a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge,” the President added.
The president who also told the youth that it was important for them to realise that protests could not last indefinitely, said, “You must realise that protests cannot last indefinitely. My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you.
“However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.
“Every successful protest movement the world over has understood that there comes a time when activity must move from the street to the negotiation table. That time has come. Do not be afraid of this reality. You should welcome it,” the President said.
At the event, Buhari, also recognised and celebrated the accomplishments of some youth innovators in Nigeria including the 20-year-old Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, engineering student Usman Dalhatu, who built a portable automatic ventilator to help people with breathing problems.
Dalhatu was among the five Youth Innovators in different fields showcased by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development at the occasion of the maiden National Youth Day Celebration, observed on November 1, which also coincides with the African Youth Day Celebration.
The Ministry also organised a 60 Day App Challenge competition in which 10 winners emerged across the country.
At the maiden National Youth Day Celebration, held at the State House Conference Centre, President Buhari, who was represented by the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, congratulated the young innovators on making the nation proud, assuring them that his government will continue to invest in entrepreneurship, skills and career development.
Other Youth Innovators, who received cash donations of N500,000 each from the Federal Government are:
Intissar Bashir Kurfi, Managing Partner, Ifrique Eco Solutions, a green Architect and environmentalist.
Kurfi, in her late twenties, established a factory for up cycling plastic waste in Abuja. The factory would upcycle Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) such as pure water sachets, plastic bottles, polythene bags and others into Interlocking Tiles.
Surajo Ismaila, 23-year old indigene of Rubochi in Kuje Area Council in Abuja, is a tractor, toys, vending machines and remote control inventor.
Adejoke Lasisi, founder of Planet 3R and Jokelinks Weaving School, an African fabric designer and environmentalist.
She is the founder of Planet 3R and Jokelinks Weaving School – the first of their kinds in Nigeria.
Idris Bashir, 28, is the founder of Midrish Technologies Nigeria, credited to have developed an application to help farmers, small, medium and large businesses to reach out to their customers.
In the 60 Day App Challenge competition, 10 young Nigerians emerged winners including Anasiudu Ikechukwu, Elioenal Yomi-Agbajor, Adegoke Oluwatosin Amos, Daniel Osi, Isaac Isaac Ozioma, Yushau El-Sunais Sani, Adeniji Oluwaferanmi, Solomon Yakubu Zamba, Andrew Mogbolu and Olukayode Fadairo.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, said thousands of entries were received for the App Challenge and after detailed process by technical partners, 10 entries were selected to receive cash prizes of N1 million each , while a number of others won laptops.