The senator representing Akwa Ibom North West, Christopher Ekpeyong, has accused politicians of using Nigerian youth for political gains during political events and abandoning them afterwards.
This, he said, was one of the reasons for the violence and looting that erupted during the #EndSARS protests in October.
He said this while contributing to a debate on two motions on the demonstrations tabled before the Senate; ‘Urgent Need for the Federal Government to Assist Lagos State Government in Rebuilding its Infrastructure’ and ‘Mayhem Visited on the Ancient City of Calabar, the First Capital of Nigeria on 23rd and 24th October, 2020’.
The motions were sponsored by senators Biodun Olujimi and Gershom Bassey respectively.
The debate comes barely 24 hours after the UK parliament debated an e-petition signed against the Nigerian government, demanding sanctions on officials guilty of human rights abuses.
Lawmakers took turns to make their contributions.
Mr Ekpenyong who narrated how his house in Akwa Ibom was attacked, said he was terrified and terrorised in his local government. This is even as he blamed politicians for the behaviour of the hoodlums.
“…The youth have nothing to do, the youths have been utilised by most people in this hallowed chamber and by the executive during political events and at the end of the day they feel abandoned.
“The #EndSARS problem is not like Boko Haram, it is a desire of the youth that they felt abandoned and they want to show us that they are there and in existence so that we can begin to learn a lesson and make provision for them.
“In my local government, I was terrified, I was terrorised. I had to do what I thought I could do but I won’t tell you here. They wanted to burn down my home I built in 1993 before coming into politics,” he said.
He further said the federal government should not wait for the youth to bring down Nigeria but do something to ensure that the epileptic power is stabilised and paper mills should be up and running.
On his part, Ike Ekweremadu urged the authorities to learn from the lessons of the protests. He said not enough has been done to address the plight of the youth with regards to employment and a secured future.
This, he said, can be done by a conscious effort to build and establish industries and provide an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive; and unless that happens, the agitation and protest will continue.
“Also, the security men we have in this country are overstretched and possibly not enough. A number of colleagues said they contacted the army and police, the response to those contacts was that they (police) were overstretched.
“This is time for us to consider what some of us have been talking about the decentralisation of our police, so each state will have the number of police officers they need. If it had happened in the past, maybe some of these people protesting will be part of this state police force.
“I think it is high time we have a rethink on security decentralisation in this country,” he said.
The Senate thereafter called on the federal government to allocate one per cent of the Value Added Tax to states affected by violence and looting during and after the #EndSARS protests that held across the nation last month.
This allocation, they said, is to repair damaged properties in the states – some of which are Lagos, Cross River and Akwa Ibom.
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