…and convener, Tuface failed to show up!
By Vicky Bricks
A nationwide protest demanding good governance and a reasonable explanation for the country’s extreme economic downfall took place Monday in major cities across the country such as Lagos, Abuja and Ibadan.
Popular Nigerian musician Tuface Idibia, who initiated the protest over a week ago, infamously backed down at the eleventh hour citing security concerns in a video posted from his Instagram page, which attracted a bit of sympathy but a whole lot more backlash from fans and the general public, who in turn took to social media to air their dissatisfaction. But in spite of the cancellation of the protest by the initiator, independent human rights groups such as EiE Nigeria proceeded with the mass march which attracted a fair enough turnout both at the National Stadium in Lagos (which saw diverse Nigerians people march from the Surulere stadium to the National Theatre, Iganmu, a distance of about four kilometers as reported on social media) and the Unity Foundation premises in Abuja. However, dozens of Nigerian police patrol vans and more than 20 armed police officers were sighted outside the National Stadium as reported by Premium Times.
Protesters carried placards bearing heavy messages to express their dissatisfaction towards the economic situation of the country. Popular comedian Seyi Law joined the protest and was quoted saying, “The government needs to reshuffle its cabinet. People can no longer go to farm because they are scared. Corruption be like ladder, na those wey dey down, na dem hold the ladder make e no fall. We have to make transparency the key for the government. We are not against President Buhari, but we demand accountability on his part and that of his administration. They said we are in an economic recession; let them show us a way out of the situation.”
Protesters left the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos and marched towards Ojuelegba with Tuface Idibia’s popular mass-empowering song, ‘For instance’ blaring in the background. Popular entertainer, Charles “Charly Boy” Oputa was also present at the march, arriving on his signatory motorcycle, lending his voice to the protesters’ in demanding President Buhari’s whereabouts since his 10-day break officially ended a few days before.
Meanwhile the Abuja protest as reported by Vanguard News reveals that a co-convener of the group, Fidelis Elihabor who addressed the crowd earlier said, “They intimidated Tuface, he is just one person. If Tuface fails, many of us would rise. And if we fail, many others will rise.” Another group named the ‘Support Buhari Group’ also staged a counter-march in support of the President, kicking off its march from the Unity Foundation environs. The group addressed the crowd at Villa Estate saying, “Nigeria needs to support the president because if Buhari fails Nigeria will fail. Buhari was voted into power because of his integrity and he is keeping to his words.”
Vice President Yemi Osibanjo reacted to the protest saying, “To those who are protesting, we hear you loud and clear. To those who are on the streets protesting the economic situation and those who are not, but who also feel the pain of the economic hardship, we hear you. You deserve a decent life and we are working night and day to make life easier’’.
Oby Ezekwesili, civil society champion