Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun has cautioned that Nigerian leaders must ensure a paradigm shift on matters concerning the youths, saying that leaders had always taken the youths for granted in the time past and for too long.
He disclosed this on Wednesday in Abeokuta when addressing the #ENDSARS campaigners who marched on his office in a peaceful protest at Oke-Mosan in the state capital.
“I think that in times past, we have sort of taken you for granted and I am saying that with all sense of responsibility,” Governor Abiodun said.
“We have taken our youths for granted because the issues you are raising today are not new to us. They are issues we have been living with for so many years.”
The governor said that the Federal government had no choice but to listen to the voice of the protesters, adding that the Nigeria Police and other security services need to put a stop to the brutalities being experienced across the country.
“The youths have a voice that must be given attention. The whole country has listened to you. As a matter of fact, the whole world is listening to you.
“You have demonstrated commitment, you have shown that you can rise up when the occasion warrant it and you can speak out,” he added.
He, however, appealed to the youths to give the government a chance to start implementing the needed reforms of the Force, noting that their action was an indication that they are citizens whose voices matter.
“Really, you have succeeded and I think what you have to do is to allow us to begin to see the implementation of these reforms. You know the implementation will not be instant because it will take time for them to be visible.
“I want to plea with you, let us give these reforms a chance to work. Let us try and see how to wind down these protests.
“You have the right to protest anytime as no one can take that away from you. What we must ask ourselves is, is the government committed, have they shown symbolism? I believe government symbolism.”
While acknowledging that there has been a breakdown of trust between the government and the citizens, the governor explained that for it to be restored, citizens must trust their government to do what was right at all times.
Governor Abiodun said he has identified with the pains of the protesters and as their representative, it was imperative he act on their feedback, assuring that he and his colleagues were deliberating on how to ensure that their voice was not only heard, but demands were met.
He said the government would not charge those arrested in the course of the protest as he has ordered the release of those arrested for vandalizing a police station and his Deputy’s car by the security agents.
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