The president made the appeal on Sunday, November 1, 2020, at the maiden National Youth Day programme with the theme “Invest in the youth, secure our future” held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammed Bello, told the gathering his administration has heard the pleas of youths which had led to disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
President Buhari, who pointed out that the #EndSARS protests cannot last indefinitely, encouraged the youths to go for meaningful discussions with the government for comprehensive reforms to end all forms of police brutality against Nigerians.
This was contained in a statement issued by is Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled “President Buhari to Nigeria youths: End street protests, dialogue with government on police reforms.”
President Buhari said the Federal Government “now wants to hear concrete and practical ideas,” from the youths, while acknowledging their constitutional right to peaceful protests.
”You must realise that protests cannot last indefinitely. My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you.
”However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.
”Every successful protest movement the world over has understood that there comes a time when activity must move from the street to the negotiation table. That time for you has come. Do not be afraid of this reality. You should welcome it.
”It is important that we all strive to use this moment constructively. Too many people have already sacrificed too dearly. It is our duty to use this fateful situation to move ourselves to a more just and caring society.
”As youth, you have a nation and a future to build. My government will always be your faithful partner in this essential and patriotic endeavour,” he said.
President Buhari strongly opposed wrongful use and imposition of violent force against innocent, law-abiding persons, particularly young people.
”No one who is obeying the law, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalized by law enforcement agencies.
”It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish SARS and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.
”To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people.
”This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people toward a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge,” he said.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, had assured Nigerian youths that their voice has been heard following the #EndSARS protests that rocked most part of the nation.