Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, on Friday warned against allowing the protests to turn into a disaster.
Warning youths who took part in the #EndSARS protests across the country to be careful, Zulum said the Boko Haram crisis in the northeastern part of the country started with protests by youths against the use of motorcycle helmets in the state capital, Maiduguri.
Zulum, whose state has remained the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency, told Journalists in Abuja after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.
He said while innocent people now bear the brunt of the insurgency, some of the arrowheads of the protest had left the state.
The governor said, “On the issue of #EndSARS, I am calling on all Nigerians, especially the youths, to be very careful. The whole Boko Haram saga started as a result of the protest by some youths in Maiduguri against the use of helmets by motorcycle riders. You have seen the situation now.
“Over one million people have been displaced and the most affected population are the vulnerable, the youth. Some of those that led the protests have left Borno State, some are in Abuja or Lagos or abroad. We have to be very careful.”
He said the government is doing everything possible to address the need of the youth so as to maintain the current peace in the state.
“The youth are with us and we are taking very good care of them, including giving them palliatives and financial support. I think the best way every Nigerian should seek their rights is through legitimate means, otherwise we are not going anywhere. Peace is very important.”
Zulum condemned police brutality against the protesters in parts of the country, particularly the shooting at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos.
He also condemned what he called the excesses of “some of our Nigerian youths in taking the laws into their own hands by destroying some of our infrastructure in an attempt to support the legitimate demands of #EndSARS protesters.”
The governor advocated what he called political solutions to insurgency in the northeastern part of the country.
He added, “The kinetic measures will not solve the entire problem. There must be some certain political solutions. Among the political solutions are the issues of supporting the youths with means to earn their livelihood.
As I have earlier said, there is a need for us to address the causes of the problem. One of the greatest causes of the insurgency is poverty. So, government at all levels should provide job opportunities for the youth and provide an enabling environment for the poor to have access to their farmland.”
He said the state has been able to return 100,000 Internally Displaced Persons to their ancestral homes.