In early October a video began to circulate on social media in Nigeria depicting a gruesome act of police brutality. The perpetrators of the police violence were from a notorious police unit called the Special Robbery Squad, or SARS. As this video went viral, Nigerians voiced their own stories of being victimized by this police unit. The hashtags #ENDSARS and #STARSMUSTEND was born.
But the story does not end there.
My guest today, Oloruninu Oduala, helped to transform this hashtag into a massive youth-led protest movement against police brutality in Nigeria.
What started as a hashtag has become a concrete set of demands for police reform and accountability, around which millions of young people in Nigeria have mobilized.
The #ENDSARS movement because I think it is an important example of how a protest movement, lead by young people, may have a potentially transformative impact on good governance in the most consequential country in the region. Nigeria is by far the most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa — one in every six people in Africa live in Nigeria. It also has a very young population. To the extent that a massive youth-led movement can inspire rule of law reforms, that’s a big deal.
If you have 20 minutes and want to understand what is driving these protests in Nigeria, have a listen