THE INFLUENCE OF ENDSARS PROTEST ON POLITICAL INTEREST OF NIGERIAN YOUTHS
The project on the influence of endsars protest on political interest of Nigerian youths. The project aimed at investigating the influence of endsars protest on political interest of Nigerian youths, determining the relationship between endsars protest and political interest of youths and finding out if the political interest of youths is gender-based. A total of 134 respondents were selected from the population figure out of which the sample size was determined. Data was collected by means of structured questionnaires administered randomly to some selected youths in Oshodi-Isolo local government area, Lagos state, Nigeria. Findings from the study revealed that majority of the respondents were of the opinion that there is a significant influence of endsars protest on political interest of Nigerian youths, there is a significant relationship between endsars protest and the political interest of youths is gender-based.
1.1 Background of the Study
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, popularly known as SARS, was established as a special police unit in 1992 to tackle increasing incidents of armed robberies and kidnappings for ransom by criminal elements operating across Nigeria (Vanguard, 23 December 2017). Originally set up to operate independently in order to target criminal groups, the unitâ€™s success hinged on its anonymity and mode of operation. SARS operatives conducted covert operations in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles to support police operations responding to community distress calls on armed robberies and other serious crimes. Over the years, however, SARS officials have been implicated in widespread human rights violations and have garnered a reputation for arbitrary arrests, torture, rape, extortion, unlawful detention, and extrajudicial killings.
Nigeria is one of the African countries with huge population size, high population density, and great social diversity. The number of youths in Nigeria is higher than the population of some African countries. Over the years, youths have enormously contributed towards the development of Nigeria through various facets such as democracy, governance, politics, economy, security, and community development (Yusuf, 2019). Also, youths have been deeply involved in self-help projects in Nigeria. As a progressive force for development, youthsâ€™ social and psychological disposition and level of productivity are feasible when provided with the knowledge and opportunities they need to prosper. This depends on the societal willingness to empower the youths in social, economic, political and legal terms as some of the youthsâ€™ challenges. Omoju and Abraham, (2014) further identified youth challenges in Nigerian from the problem of youthâ€™s unemployment and underemployment, limited access to education and lack of economic opportunities, lack of access to basic education, high HIV prevalence rate to high poverty rate among others. To promote youth leadership and more inclusive politics, more than 100 Youth organizations known by its hashtag #Not-Too-Young-To-Run in Nigeria mobilized for a constitutional reform to lower the eligibility age to run for political office in 2016. It is aimed to reduce the age limit to stand as political candidates to promote good governance and youth political participation (Krook and Nugent, 2018). The youth movement in Nigeria started long ago but the organized one was created in 1934 with titled Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) and it was based in Lagos. Its primary objectives were the development of a united Nigeria out of the conglomeration of people who inhabited Nigeria, and the promotion of complete understanding along with a sense of common nationalism among different elements in the country. Politically however it sought to increase the native Nigerian participation in civil service and government with the ultimate goal of self-government. Furthermore, the movement established branches in urban areas throughout the country in an attempt to promote inter-tribal cooperation (Gann, 2011).
Youth movements could be positive or negative, but as far as the government concerns, any kind of youth movement either positive or negative would affect the government of the dayâ€™s interest. Because it reminds the government that some policies were not properly implemented or executed, asking to change the entire policy like EndSARS youth movement. EndSARS protesters are a group of Nigerian youths under the umbrella of the New Nigerian Youth Movement (NNYM) that demand the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit, as well as, other reforms in the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). At the beginning of the EndSARS, their demands were very clear and straightforward urging the government to abolish SARS, offer justice to victims of police brutality and reform the police. The genesis of the protest was a video clip of police officers thought to be members of the SARS unit, allegedly killing an unarmed young man (Ukpe, 2020). What started as a peaceful demonstration by thousands of youths in some of the states in Nigeria, degenerated into chaos after the protests were hijacked by hoodlums. Unpatriotic set of youths took over the protest to achieve self-centred interest contrary to law and changed the narrative of the movement. Citizensâ€™ rights were interfered with, loss of lives, property worth billions of naira were stolen and destroyed among others. Other reasons for EndSARS protest are the political and economic structures in Nigeria which did not properly integrate youthsâ€™ needs. This is what led Kamorudeen stated that:
â€œthe manipulation of the political and economic structure by political elites have endangered high rate of youth unemployment and underemployment, poverty, poor access to quality education, and poor access to political opportunities, thereby influencing Nigerian youths to indulge in series of agitations and violent act reflected in political thuggery, armed robbery, ethno-religious crises, kidnapping etc.â€ (Kamarudeen, 2011; 171)
Consequently, the occurrence of youthâ€™s violence in present Nigeria is on the proliferation and it has generated public worries as the violence is seen as anti-thesis to individualâ€™s and national development. Nigeria has become a violence-prone nation with the youths at the centre of most of it. No part of Nigeria is immune from one form of violence or the other, ranging from Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen-farmerâ€™s crisis, ethno-religious crises, kidnapping, armed robbery, terrorism, and EndSARS protest among others. Against this background, this paper, therefore examines the youthâ€™s movement, EndSARS protest in particular and challenges confronting youth in the country. Consequently, the paper is divided into seven sections. Section one provides an introduction while section two deals with the conceptual framework. Section three deals with the empirical review, while section four examines youths and Nigerian police on EndSARS protest. This explains the deteriorated relationship between Nigerian youths and NPF. Section five explains the challenges confronting Nigerian youths while section six offers recommendations and section seven provided for the conclusion.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad was created in 1992 as a response to violent crime, particularly armed robbery (Uwazuruike 2020). One of the basic responsibilities of the government in all societies is to ensure the safety of life and property of its citizens. Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Constitution), states that â€œthe security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. Therefore, it is by establishing and maintaining an efficient police force that the government provides a feeling of security to its citizens. As a result, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is an agency established by law to ensure the preservation of public order and law enforcement as well as prevention and detection of crime (section 214(3) and 4 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria). The police play a vital role in the administration of justice in any society and present the entry point into the criminal justice system either through reports from the public or its investigation and surveillance (Benjamin, 2007). Special Anti-Robbery Squad popularly known as SARS was a segment of NPF saddled with responsibilities of curtailing armed robbery and other related crimes in Nigeria. However, the police unit has come to be known for its high-handed tactics and gross violations of human rights. SARS evolved from a special outfit created by different state Commands to address specific violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping, communal violence and religious violence. In each state, SARS is under the Criminal Investigation Department of the Police Command. However, the group (SARS) quickly became controversial for its links to extra-judicial killings, torture and illegal activities (Samuel, 2020; 135). On the other hand, SARS was a special police unit set up decades ago as Nigeria, the most populous African country, battled with rising levels of crime and kidnappings. Initially, it was successful in reducing cases of violent crime but more recently the unit had been â€œturned into banditryâ€, according to Fulani Kwajafa, the man who set up SARS. In June 2020, Amnesty International released a report that documented at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial execution by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020. Torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other forms of cruelty by SARS officials against Nigerian youths are prohibited in all circumstances under the Nigerian law (Sections 4, 8, 10 and 11 of Anti-Torture Law 2017). No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether in a state of war or, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. It is not enough for states to simply prohibit and criminalise torture under national law; it is suggested that there is no range of further measures to protect the youths and prevent these forms of violation hence the agitation by protest. International and national human rights law safeguards, not properly implemented, resulting in abuses of human rights. Despite the human rights and constitutional provisions, however, ill-treatment remains routine practices by SARS officials.
What began as a protest against the hated police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) later became a conduit for the youth to vent their anger with the people who have been in charge of Nigeria for decades, and demand change.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo warned in 2017 that "we are all sitting on a keg of gunpowder" when it comes to the young.
His comments were about the continent in general but they apply to Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with 200 million people, more than 60% of whom are under the age of 24.
The majority of those of working age do not have formal employment and there are few opportunities to get a good education. Earlier this year, government statistics showed that 40% of Nigerians lived in poverty. The enormous brutality of the Police and SARS and the corrupt practices of the leaders in and outside power triggered the hunger for change in youths and led to them having interest in the politics of Nigeria. Youths all over Nigeria through the use of social media were able to come together with one mind, voice, and goal to disband SARS and reform Police force as well as end corrupt practices of leaders in the country. Hence, this study seeks to investigate the influence of EndSARS protest on political interest of nigerian youths.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of this study is to examine the influence of EndSARS protest on political interest of Nigerian youths. Specifically, the study seeks to:
1. Investigate the influence of ENDSARS protest on political interest of Nigerian youths,
2. Determine the relationship between ENDSARS protest and political interest of youths
3. Find out if the political interest of youths is gender-based
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions guide this study:
1. What is the influence of ENDSARS protest on political interest of Nigerian youths?
2. Is there any relationship between ENDSARS protest and political interest of youths?
3. Is the political interest of youths is gender-based?
1.5 Research hypotheses
Hypothesis refers to an experimental statement, tentative in nature, showing the relationship between two or more variables. It is open to test and can be accepted or rejected depending on whether it agrees or disagrees with the statistical test.
The study will test the validity of the following hypothesis:
H0: There is no relationship between ENDSARS protest and political interest of youths
HA: There is a relationship between ENDSARS protest and political interest of youths.
1.6 Significance of the study
This study on the the influence of EndSARS protest on political interest of Nigerian youths will be extremely beneficial to the government of Nigeria and the world at large, in recognizing the kind of influence the EndSARS protest had on Nigerian youths by giving them one voice and making them demand for better administration in the country.
This study will also benefit youths of Nigeria to know that their with one voice and mind as they did during the EndSARS protest that led to the eradication of SARS and brought about the reformation of the Police Force, they can stand up for anything in the country and have it achieved.
Furthermore, this study will add to existing literature on this topic and will serve as a reference material for further research on this topic or related domain.
1.7 Scope of the study
This study focuses on investigating the influence of ENDSARS protest on political interest of Nigerian youths. This study will also determine the relationship between ENDSARS protest and political interest of youths. This study will further Find out if the political interest of youths is gender-based. This study is delimited to youths in Oshodi-Isolo local government area, Lagos state.
1.8 Limitation of the study
The major factors that posed a challenge to the researcher while carrying out this study was insufficient fund, limited time frame and inadequate material on this study domain.
1.9 Definition of Terms
ENDSARS: End SARS is a decentralised social movement, and series of mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria. The slogan calls for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police with a long record of abuses.
PROTEST: A protest is a public expression of objection, disapproval or dissent towards an idea or action, typically a political one.
POLITICS: the activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power.
INTEREST: the feeling of wanting to know or learn about something or someone.