Veteran actor and director, Prince Jide Kosoko has condemned the shooting of unarmed peaceful #ENDSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos by Soldiers who were supposedly enforcing the 24-hours curfew imposed on the state.
Kosoko, who made the condemnation in a statement on Thursday, also called on Nigerian youths to get ready for leadership and not stay content with the over hyped leaders of tomorrow tag.
According to him, the #ENDSARS protests, which he described as the mother of all protests in the country, would not have degenerated into violent attacks and destruction of properties if the protesters had called it off immediately they were able to make their voice heard loud and clear.
The statement reads “There is a Yoruba philosophical song that goes thus – Oni ara so loja o, ola ara so loja o, ijo abaku aso adegbe omo ni ka ra o, a aso adegbe omo ni kara o.
“The import of the song above is that premium value must be placed on youths and children as against material things. It does not matter how much of material things you acquire and their value in monetary terms, they will eventually wear out. But children will outlive you and eventually become your pride and leaders of tomorrow.
“That goes to tell us that we should place much more emphasis on taking care of children and pay more than passing attention on the training and development of our youths because they, indeed, are the leaders of tomorrow.
“This brings me to the current situation in our country, which started with the #ENDSARS protests.
“The protest, when it started, was a welcome development because the youths of this country, who spearheaded it, had genuine demands and concerns.
“I am a father, whose children are still youths and I have on more than two occasions visited police stations to bail my children out after they were accosted on the road and wrongly arrested and detained. So for me, it was a welcome development, as I supported it wholeheartedly.
“I however did not add my voice before now because I have come to understand that most Nigerians will only believe and stick to what they want no matter what anyone says. And worse still, if you say anything contrary to what they have chosen to believe, you are promptly attacked. So for me, it was safe watching from the sidelines instead of allowing my personal opinion to aggravate an already tensed situation.
“Having said that, I honestly believe the organisers should have thought of the possibility of hoodlums taking over what started as a beautiful endeavour for a better Nigerian society.
“There is no way I would not have thought about this, maybe because I have participated in several protests in the past. From my experience, I know there must be a way of differentiating those with good intentions and those with ulterior motives.
“For me, in the first three to four days of the protest, the youths were able to make their voice heard loud and clear. The protest remains the mother of all protests in the country. I therefore expected that before the hoodlums hijacked the process, the youths would have retreated and begin strategizing on how to benefit from the gains of the protest.
“Though we still thank God that a statement has been made and government has accepted their demands, but then, there is need to continue to monitor the process to ensure that everything government promised to do is carried out to the letters.
“In view of this, I believe it is time for Nigerian youths to start thinking about leadership. It is not enough to keep saying youths are the leaders of tomorrow; they must take concrete steps to assume it.
“I honestly believe that we shall in future elections, troop out in millions to vote for them, but then, if there is no trust among young Nigerians, how then do we have candidates from amongst them that we can vote for. Because for me, this is the only way the primary objective of the youths can be adequately addressed.
“Let’s try leadership; it does not matter how we arrive there and the challenges along the way, it is a must and we must be prepared for it!
“Let me also say here that dialogue is the way and we must be ready to dialogue with government at all levels to ensure that everything that has been promised are done.
“I however absolutely condemn any form of shooting at protesters, not only at Lekki, but anywhere in the country. If truly the youths are leaders of tomorrow, must we start killing them now?
“Unfortunately, the interpretations and various posts on social media have made it difficult for people to know the true position of things but God knows and He will punish whoever is behind the shootings at Lekki and other places.
“Let me also use this opportunity to sympathize with the Government of Lagos State and salute the courage of the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for his strong efforts at curbing the already envisaged looting and destruction that followed the unfortunate shooting of peaceful #ENDSARS protesters. I commend his prompt action in taking the message of the youths to President Muhammadu Buhari and also equally sympathize with all those that have lost loved ones or have their properties destroyed in the ensuing violence. God will comfort you all. I also pray that the Almighty God will take absolute control of our country.
“This statement will not be complete without expressing my displeasure with the roles played by some of our religious and traditional leaders while the crisis persisted. I had expected a more positive action from them as against what some of them did. There no doubting the fact that these sets of leaders play an important role in ensuring peace and stability in the Nigerian society, and they must always ensure that they play these roles conscientiously. Their fatherly advice, intervention during critical periods and prayers could have averted the recent descent into anarchy.”