United National deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed has blamed coronavirus pandemic and the wave of joblessness that followed it for the historic #EndSARS campaign that was held in Nigeria last month, The Nation reported.
“I have to say that there are lots of protests around this world that have been exacerbated by COVID because, COVID has left people out of work, left people hopeless because of the socio-economic impact and in many of those protests,” The Nation reported Ms. Mohammed as saying during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House on Monday.
Ms. Mohammed, a former Nigerian environment minister, dismissed criticism of Mr. Buhari’s crackdown on protesters to praise her former boss as having promptly responded to the protest better than any other world leader in a similar situation.
“We have not seen governments turn around in response as quickly as this government did,” Ms. Mohammed said according to The Nation.
Ms. Mohammed’s comments marked a sharp contrast from the position of her boss at the UN. Secretary-General António Guterres condemned Nigerian military’s deployment of armed soldiers against civilians at a protest ground in Lekki, Lagos, during which at least nine people were killed. Amnesty International in its presentation to world institutions said its credible findings showed at least 10 people were killed by the military.
President Buhari has declined to publicly condemn the attack or order investigation, but his cabinet ministers have said an investigation will be carried out.
Ms. Mohammed served for two years as Mr. Buhari’s environment minister before she left for the UN, which could explain her decision to shower effusive praises on the president in disregard of widespread and credible civil society reports of gruesome violations #EndSARS protesters rights.
Her ministerial tenure ended with multiple allegations of corruption levelled against her by the Environmental Investigation Agency over questionable sale of Nigerian rosewood worth millions of dollars.
Maintaining her premise that #EndSARS protests, which saw a robust participation of middle-class Nigerians, were caused by joblessness and hopelessness rather than decades of police brutality, Ms. Mohammed said the UN would work with the Nigerian government to ensure urgent actions on social and economic issues in the country.
“So, the UN’s response to this is that we must make sure that what happened in these protests we are able to address those issues, those gaps and begin the reform.”
“In fact I will say the transformations that are needed to address many of these outstanding issues and for that we need to engage youths, we need to engage government.”
“I think what has been put in place are those building blocs and the support of the UN has been asked to make sure that those convenience can happen and that we can build back trust and have confidence-building measures in order to get to where we need to, where the social contract between government and the people is firm and trustworthy and is working for the benefits of the Nigerian people” Ms. Mohammed said.