The Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Most Rev. Emmanuel Badejo, has urged EndSARS protesters to take a break and give the government chance to attend to their demands in the interest of peace in the country.
Badejo made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Friday.
According to him, the protests have been turned into mob attacks on individuals as well as public and private property, thus lacking in direction and control.
“Having presented their demands in clear and unambiguous terms, a break will also help the protesters to reorganise, re-strategise and ensure that members of the public are not allowed to get disenchanted.
“Allow the government to deploy all legitimate means to secure meaningful, honest and productive dialogue. I’m very sure that government, on its own part, will be more responsive to the yearnings of the citizens.
“Many issues must be dealt with, such as insecurity, corruption, poor infrastructure, unemployment, high cost of governance, sectionalism and unfair distribution of privileges and positions,” he said.
The cleric opines that that might be difficult getting a commonly-accepted verdict on who took the decision to shoot unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate, Lagos, let alone having a precise data on the fatalities.
“There has always been a trust deficit between the government and the citizens and this needs to be urgently addressed,’’ he said.
“Whoever was involved in the Lekki killings has hurt our nation and our future deeply. But, we must all do all we can to appeal to the protesters to see reason and be pacified.
“Everything they might have destroyed will eventually rebound on our society. Their anger may be justified but they should please exercise restraint and give peace a chance,” he said.
The bishop also appealed to government not to be tired of pacifying the protesters, notwithstanding the damage that had already been done.
On the issue of the now-disbanded SARS, he said: “It is the right of citizens to make their claims but such claims should be subjected to thorough consideration, while the government at all levels should act responsibly.’’
Badejo attributed the current situation in the country to the failure of virtually all stakeholders in the discharge of their individual responsibilities.
“We must all understand that both the government and protesters are stakeholders. Whatever we choose to do or not to do will determine where Nigeria is heading to,” he said. (NAN)