Endsars: Gov. Sanwoolu walking alone? – Chidoka

I read of the reactions of some prominent members of the EndSars against the invitation for a walk by the Governor of Lagos State. Their rejection of the invitation is within their right, and I respect it. My worry is the strategic import of the refusal and the social media triumphalist celebration of the rejection.

Osita Chidoka

The Governor made a strategic error by inviting people he had not aligned with for a walk. His speech was well crafted. His message was good from a government perspective; he should have stopped there.

Government and protest movements dont usually mix; the objectives of both groups are at variance. Gov. Sanwoolu should have sought to align with the invitees through serious and open engagement and not a photo op moment. The Governor’s avoidable misstep has diverted attention from the courageous work of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Lagos State nuanced endorsement of the same.

On the other side, the EndSars movement also misses an opportunity to co-opt Lagos State through meaningful engagement and trade-offs. The Lagos State Governor can walk alone, but the implication of this social media jest, in my opinion, is that no other Governor will allow a panel report that sets it against the FG and buy no mileage from the protest movement. Politicians respond to incentives.

A lesson about how the Black Lives Matter Movement aligned with Democrats is pertinent here. The sad part is the failure of PDP states to ‘own’ the EndSars movement.

In the absence of the opposition party, I think Endsars should seek strategic alignment with Lagos State and give it mileage as a “progressive” state and create an anchor state for its future activities – (Think the fuel subsidy protest and the role of Lagos state then an opposition state.)

On the other hand, the Endsars leading lights can remain angry, win more social media followers and wait for another protest moment. Not a wrong way to go, but what is the strategic goal?

A decision moment. Either option has upsides and downsides.

Osita Chidoka
December 2021

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