How the End Sars protests have changed Nigeria forever

Protesters at the Lekki toll booth
The protests against police brutality in Nigeria created a powerful movement that seemed to shake those in power, but after a turbulent fortnight, BBC Hausa editor Aliyu Tanko is considering how to proceed.
A strong mix of street protests and social media has given young Nigerians a voice that has destroyed the country's culture of respect.
When the hashtag #EndSARS went viral, the elite in Nigeria also became defiant.
The destruction of the palace of the highly regarded Oba or traditional ruler of Lagos was a symbol of this mood.
The teenagers dragged his throne around, ransacked his possessions, and swam in his pool.
What began as a protest against the hated police force against robbery (Sars) has become a means for young people to express their anger at the people who have been responsible for Nigeria for decades and to demand change.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo warned in 2017 that "we are all sitting on a barrel of gunpowder" when it comes to young people.
His comments covered the continent in general, but apply to Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation of 200 million people, more than 60% of whom are under the age of 24.
The majority of people of working age do not have formal employment and there are few opportunities to get a good education. Earlier this year, government statistics showed that 40% of Nigerians lived in poverty.
"Not customary to cause mischief"
But those currently in power initially misunderstood what was going on this time, activist and writer Gimba Kakanda told the BBC.
"The #EndSARS protests were initially seen as yet another episodic youth calamity that would get out of hand if not addressed," he said.
"It was this almost overly condescending mindset of the political class that made it slow to respond to this unprecedented movement, leaving it all on the sidelines."
The question is, where is this movement going now?
The success of the protest in forcing concessions on the government - such as a promise to disband Sars and broader police reform - has given Nigerian youth confidence and belief that they can make a difference.
A few days after the protests began, activists were able to set up a hotline that could respond to emergencies. They also provided legal services to the needy and even set up a radio station.
These have been crowdfunded and cited as examples of how Nigeria could be better if politicians don't often seem more interested in what they can gain personally than how they can improve the country.
But there was also an ugly side.
While those who supported and supported the # EndSARS movement were peaceful, another section of the youth saw the protests as an opportunity.
Lagos was hit by looting and vandalism on Wednesday and Thursday
They destroyed shops, raided warehouses and turned against the shops of prominent politicians.
While these two groups take different approaches, they have one thing in common: a disdain for those responsible.
However, it is unlikely that they can find a common cause. Any movement in this direction can have an impact on the spread of the movement across the country, as some find it difficult to sit at the same table with people of "questionable character".
"Buhari missed the point"
However, the authorities are aware that poverty and hardship pose national security threats, said activist Kakanda.
"The government has realized that it can no longer take such outrage for granted," he added.
But it continued to make missteps in trying to keep the mood down.
According to blogger and columnist Japheth Omojuwa, President Muhammadu Buhari's address on Thursday evening "fell far short of the point".
Mr Buhari called for an end to the protests and the start of a dialogue, but "he will be remembered for threatening Nigerians just because they asked their government to work for justice".
Protesters must now monitor progress in police reform, analysts say
Even so, Mr. Omojuwa believes that the #EndSARS movement can achieve something.
Instead of focusing on long-term ambitions to achieve political power, it should make sure that the authorities keep their promise to reform and bring faulty police officers to justice.
It is these small steps that can ultimately lead to bigger changes.
More about Nigeria's #EndSars protests
Nigerian horror over # EndSars protest shootouts
The fake stories about the protests in Nigeria
Why Nigerian protesters are upset with Beyoncé
How the protests became global
The young protesters who forced a president to withdraw
These turbulent fortnight, and especially the shooting of demonstrators in Lagos on October 20, will be remembered for a long time in Nigeria.
Those in power are clearly concerned that the country's vast young population can no longer be ignored or, if it fails, appeased.
It is being organized, as evidenced by the huge donations from a relatively unknown group - the Feminist Coalition - who supported the protests and shook the foundations of Nigeria.
The fact that these young women said they were regrouping makes the elite nervous and makes it clear that the system has to work for everyone, not the privileged few.
Since that episode, Nigerian politics has changed forever as the youth have realized how powerful they are and what they can achieve when they come together on a common goal.

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