The founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, has called on the Federal Government to dialogue with the youths protesting against police brutality and meet their demands.
The frontline legal luminary advised President Muhammad Buhari to caution the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu not to use confrontations against the protesters, saying acting otherwise could lead to a mass revolution.
Babalola gave the charge on Friday at ABUAD farm while addressing farmers across 16 local government areas of the state at a session in commemoration of the World Food Day.
He stated that the youths are not only protesting against police brutality but also the ‘insurmountable problems’ of poverty, unemployment, corruption, systemic and leadership failure.
Babalola said Nigeria’s future might be bleak if the hydra-headed problems afflicting the country are not addressed, adding that Nigerians are currently struggling with poverty in its naked form.
He condemned the series of attacks on the aggrieved Nigerian youths protesting against extra-judicial killings, extortion and harassment, describing the actions as illegal and unconstitutional.
The legal icon, however, cautioned the operatives of the police against harassing protesters but to provide adequate security for them to press home their demands.
“The protest going on by the youths means there is a pain in them. The protest is a legitimate way of expressing opinions concerning government actions or inactions. The rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are guaranteed under the constitution as fundamental rights.
“So, it’s fundamental that people should have a right to protest, that is complain about pain, our youths took to the streets protesting because there is something paining them. They are telling the people in power that there’s pain. The pain may be poverty, unemployment, corruption and what the police is doing. They are right and no sensible government will not react to it. It is expedient that the government should negotiate immediately and meet their demands.”
He noted that the Nigerian youths had the inalienable and fundamental right to protest against any agencies of the Federal Government that have derailed from carrying out its constitutional mandate.
Babalola noted that agriculture is capable of employing thousands of youths in the country, calling on the government to create an enabling environment in order to make agriculture more attractive.
“This is the beginning of the revolution of agriculture in this country. I was born on the farm, I have no regret about it and I thank God what he has made me become in this country.
When I was growing up, there was no begging because everybody has enough to eat but today, that is no longer the case and the reason is that we have all abandon agriculture. I am happy that my dream is being realised through the empowerment of youths because the only way to develop this country is through the development of its youths.
“I have always said it, that we should all be interested in agriculture like we all were before the advent of oil. For me a revolution has started in this country, however, is not a revolution where you carry arms but one that will lead to reverse of the present trend where many people are looking for jobs,” Afe Babalola said.