Saturday, October 24, 2020

EndSARS Protests: Unwarranted Militarization Of Lekki-Gate Has Dragged Nigeria Back On 17 SDGs- Civil Society-Dr. Uzodinma Adirieje

Dr. Uzodinma Adirieje is the National Chairman, Civil Society Organizations Strategy Group on Sustainable Dev’t Goals in Nigeria (CSOSG-SDGs-Nigeria).
Global Coordinator and UN Representative, Afrihealth Optonet Association.
Acting Team Leader – Implementation Subcommittee, National Technical Working Group for Nigeria’s Medium Term National Development Plan (TWG-MTNDP) 2021-2025 and Nigeria Agenda 2050.
National President, Nigerian Association of Evaluators (NAE).
Executive Secretary, Nigeria Universal Health Coverage Actions Network (NUHCAN),
President, Society for Conservation and Sustainability of Energy and Environment in Nigeria (SOCSEEN).
Chairman, National Technical Working Group, Nigeria Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (NiPBES). Etc.

In this interview, he describes the militarized intervention in peaceful protest at Lekki as unwarranted and antithetical to the attainment of Nigeria's 17 SDGs.

Question 1:

As a an expert on SDG, what is your reaction to the ENDSARS campaign?

Excerpts 1:

On all fronts, the ENDSARS campaign, the approach to quell ENDSARS campaign as represented by what happened at Lekki gate has dragged Nigeria back on all the 17 SDGs. That approach and its subsequent responses by people, destroying properties, killing people, burning places, polluting the environment, freeing prisoners and all that has dragged Nigeria back on all 17 development goals.

If you consider that properties have been lost, it means poverty has increased. If you consider that poverty has increased and people are no longer able to do business, hunger has increased in the land. If you consider that people received injuries and even got killed in the course of unwarranted militarized intervention in a peaceful protest, you will see that good health and wellbeing of Nigerians have been compromised.

If you consider that schools are closing even after COVID, seven months of staying at home caused by COVID, and those that are resuming or have just resumed have closed again, you see that education quality have been compromised.

If you look at what has happened to women, what has happened to people, in course of these violent responses to the ENDSARS campaign, gender equality has not been emphasised. Inequality of gender has been emphasised more, you will see where women were manhandled in the course of this. The fact that properties are being burnt and this is a rainy season, you will discover that we cannot afford clean water. And many things have been affected, infrastructure has been affected, our sanitation level has further gone down and ability to afford clean water has further gone down.

The destructions that took place has caused power outage and darkness in some places, impeding electricity and renewable energy, so our ability to achieve the 7th SDG, affordable and clean energy has further become compromised. People have not gone to work, so the opportunity to attain economic growth within this period has been compromised. That is how we lost again on SDG number 8. If you look around , you find out industries are not working, banks are closing down, so you will realise that our industries - both the innovations and infrastructure are adversely affected. In fact, the effect of the militarized intervention in Lekki has further increased inequality in the country, more people are now poorer.

Our cities have been less sustainable, people are running away, so we are not able to move forward, we come to SDG 11 which is sustainable cities and communities. Our communities have become less sustainable because of these inglorious militarisation. If you look at the fact that people cannot afford what to eat, they will eat anything they see. In the course of that, they can misuse resources, that can manhandle the environment in order to sustain themselves. Those that can't get gas in order to cook will now resort to fire wood. Those that can't use good water, would learn using bad water. Responsible consumption of resources have been reduced, Our climate has been compromised, our biodiversity destroyed.

The burnings and other things that went up, the ozone layer is further depleted. Our climate is further being depleted, further compromising our ecosystem. SDG 13 is being compromised. Now all these things that are being burnt, and rain carries them into water, and it adversely affects life below water. Our ability again to achieve SDG 14 is compromised. Life below water is not working, life on land is not working. Even on land people are killed sitting down singing national anthem.

This means that even life on land is compromised. We cannot say that this is a peaceful environment, people are being killed extra judicially, you can't say there is justice. It means that our institutions have not really worked. SDG 16 is compromised here. You will also see that government has not built partnerships for these goals, not even with the civil society. It is now people in military uniforms coming out to kill people who are unarmed, yet nobody is being held accountable.

The Civil Society in Nigeria is worried and terribly concerned that this peaceful protest has been handled this way and these have drawn Nigeria back on the 17 SDGs.

Questions 2:

How would you reconcile the position of the army having debunked reports of shooting blaming it on alleged impersonators with your position?

Excerpts 2:

Should we clap for the security system in this country that citizens gathered at Lekki, nobody is denying that, sat down peacefully protesting, nobody is denying that, singing the national anthem and wielding our national flag, nobody is denying that, and suddenly at such a time when the security apparatus of any country ought to be at alert, people now impersonated so to say the soldiers of this land, the military personnel of this land, and as we speak, nobody has been held accountable. Does it speak so good of our security system? Does it not make mockery of our security system? If this could happen to people gathered in a place like Lekki, is it the people at remote villages that would be secure?

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