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As #EndSARS escalates, Nigerians ask: who’s in charge?

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Saturday, 24 October 2020 15:09, updated on Monday, 26 October 2020 16:47

After dozens of young unarmed Nigerians were shot in Lagos, the #endSARS movement is at a crossroads.

Acts of violence in the days that followed, burning of buildings, jailbreaks, looting — all so much state-sanctioned provocation say many of the protestors, who see in it an attempt to undermine the reform goals.

Forces unleashed against Nigeria’s #EndSARS protestors suggest panicking politicians trying to manage a modern political movement with the toolkit of the 1980s.

READ MORE Lagos burns after army accused of ‘Lekki massacre’

The old guard are unlikely to get the toothpaste back in the tube. But the amorphous leadership of the movement will need to avoid getting sucked into sectarian dynamics, and get ready for a marathon not a sprint.

In this edition of Talking Africa, we ask:

  • How does the official response measure up to the challenge of a young, much larger, and better-informed electorate who may be less likely to be pushed around than previous generations?
  • Is the protest movement able to stay unified in the face of the ethnic dimension many are trying to inject into the crisis?
  • Has the shooting of unarmed protestors been instumentalised by APC leader Bola Tinubu to knock him out of the 2023 race?
  • Are there lessons from youth-led protest movements in Sudan and Egypt?, and what of closer to home, where another band of elderly gentlemen in Côte d’Ivoire insist on clinging to power…