Protesters demand good governance, security


• Outrage As Counter Terrorism Cops Clampdown On Protesters
• I’m Committed To Upholding And Defending Nigeria’s Corporate Existence –Buhari
• Pro-Buhari Supporters Fight While Sharing Money In Abuja
• FG Yet To Fulfill Its Promises To Us –Abiola Family
• Absence Of Strong Institutions, Equity, Justice, Responsible For Wobbled Nationhood –Oyetola

Two dominant songs characterised the celebration of Democracy Day yesterday as protesters filed out to promote their cause. There were ‘#BuhariMustGo’ and ‘#IStandwithBuhari’ groups as supporters of each camp marshalled their messages through variety of inscriptions on their placards. The former had messages such as: “Buhari must go,” “Down With Buhari,” “It’s Time to end bad governance,” “Digital right is a human right,” among others, while castigating President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government over alleged bad governance.

The latter displayed seemingly patronising messages including, “Good governance requires everbody’s involvement. Be a good democrat,” “Accountability at all levels is key in a democracy. Start from your locality,” “Democracy will not fail in Nigeria. Be resilient,” “Nigerians say no to fake activists,” “Nigerians say no to violence” among others.

Earlier in his Democracy Day nationwide broadcast, President Buhari said that the June 12 Democracy Day was set aside to honour heroes that fought for the return of civil rule and to demonstrate his government’s commitment to creating an environment for democracy to thrive.

The president, who said he joined the Nigerian Army ready to lay down his life for the country stressed: “The day I joined the Nigerian Army I was prepared to lay down my life for Nigeria.

“As your president, I remain ever committed to upholding and defending Nigeria’s corporate existence. In adhering to the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy notably section 14(2)(b), I shall do all within my power to ensure that the security and welfare of the people remain the primary purpose of government.”

On the naming of June 12 as Democracy Day, Buhari said: “When this administration decided to change our Democracy Day from 29th May to June 12th in my first tenure, it was not only to honour the sacrifices of the men and women of our country who fought for the return to democracy, but also to demonstrate our commitment to satisfy the aspirations of the people and creating an environment for democracy to be an accepted way of life.

“As your President, I remain committed to providing an enabling environment for a free, fair and credible electoral system under my tenure.

“However, you need to play your part by getting involved at any level you can supporting a democratic system that works for all and not for a section or a select few and demand accountability from your elected leaders,” he said.

Except for the peaceful protesters and a couple of persons on essential duty, streets of some major cities, including Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Ekiti, Osogbo etc., were largely empty and economic activities at its lowest ebb.

Despite the threat to their personal safety and lives, some of the protesters in Lagos insisted that as long as bad governance persists under President Buhari, they would continue to protest until he leaves office.

The protest was active and alive virtually as it was physically as reflected by the #June12 Protest, which recorded about 2.33 million retweets, as of 1:22pm. This was barely 14 hours after Twitter CEO/Co-founder, Jack Dorsey tweeted the Nigerian flag at 12am, in support of Nigerian protesters, despite the government banning the app in the country.

Protesters in Lagos, who began pouring into the streets as early as 8am, had a hectic time sending their message across to the government as they were attacked on several fronts.

While officers of the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) fired several canisters of teargas at them, even as they were disallowed entry into the Gani Fawehinmi Park, in the Ojota area of Lagos State.

As some early protesters throng the park chanting anti-government songs, police officers attempted to halt their movement, but to no avail. Thereafter, two officers fired teargas in the direction of the protesters, while a third fired live bullets into the air to scare, and disperse the crowd. This was after another police officer’s advice for the protesters to maintain peace and be civil fell on deaf ears.

Another group of protesters identified as Indigenes of Lagos, protested against the planned June 12 protests. They said: “We are indigenes of Lagos. We don’t want trouble in Lagos again. We don’t want what happened during the EndSARS protest to happen again here.”

Apart from the police and Lagos State’s indigenes that were against the protesters, transport union workers were also on hand to disperse them.

After a meeting, the union workers suddenly moved towards the protesters, and charging everyone to vacate the premises. “Go home. Everybody should go home. No protest here.

“Anyone that creates unnecessary havoc here will die,” one of the unionists said, while another added: “What are these hoodlums doing here?” As he pointed at the protesters.

IN Abuja, members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), joined #Take-it-Back protesters, led by the former presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, to demonstrate against “bad governance.”

They wielded placards with inscriptions such as “Buhari must go”, “Free Zakzaky”, “Police brutality has not stopped” amongst others.

After the police fired canisters of teargas and dispersed them at Gudu District, they, however, converged again on Wuse Zone 4, demanding obedience to rule of law,  good governance and an end to insecurity in the country.
The Secretary of IMN’s Academic Forum, Abdullahi Musa, while addressing journalists said: “We, the Shi’ites joined the June 12 protest against bad governance, because what we have today in the country is not a democracy, but a dictatorship.

“The courts, on various occasions, have ordered the unconditional release of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, from custody, but the Federal Government has refused to obey the valid orders of the Court in their case.”

As this went on, supporters of President Buhari who were doing their thing at the Unity Fountain were seen fighting over the sharing formula for the money they were paid to counter the anti-government protesters.

The Buhari “supporters” prosecuting the #IStandWithBuhari campaign, were decked with customised T-shirts, and also displayed placards, which read, “Nigerians say no to fake activists,” “Nigerians say no to violence,”’.

An eyewitness and one of the protesters, Miss Atinuke Omowole, who is also a job seeker, explained that leaders of the group were engaged in a serious argument over the sharing formula.

MEANWHILE, the family of the late Chief MKO Abiola, yesterday lamented that the Federal Government was yet to fulfill its promises to the family since the declaration of June 12 as the country’s Democracy Day.

The Secretary of the family, Rahaman Abiola, disclosed this in an interview with journalists when a delegation of the Ogun State government, led by the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele visited the Abeokuta family house of Abiolas to celebrate the June 12 Democracy Day.

President Muhammadu Buhari last year moved the country’s democracy day celebration from May 29 to June 12 to honour Abiola, the hero of Nigeria’s democracy. But, Rahaman Abiola declared that since the declaration, the family is yet to benefit anything from the Federal Government.

The Secretary who lamented the death of Abiola, the breadwinner of the family, said the Federal Government has failed to fulfill all the promises made to the family, even as he commended it for honouring Abiola with the award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).

Rahaman Abiola said, “We are happy indeed that President Muhammadu Buhari deemed it fit to honour Abiola by giving him the GCFR and made June 12 official Democracy Day. Kudos to that. “So far so good, we have not benefitted anything from the Federal Government.”

THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemned what it called “violent clampdown by agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and President Muhamamdu Buhari” on Nigerians who are peacefully protesting on Democracy Day.

The party described the attack on citizens on Democracy Day as a sacrilegious demonstration of APC’s aversion to democracy, as well as its barefaced repugnance towards Nigerians, particularly in their demands for their rights.

In a statement by its national publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said it is awkward that the APC and President Buhari, who were allowed their freedom when they protested in 2014, would turn around to subject Nigerians to actions of inhumanity including the use of firearms against the people, as being witnessed today.

“It is instructive to note that President Buhari, in his supposed Democracy Day address, failed to rein in his security operatives despite the cautions by the PDP. This places the culpability for whatever befalls Nigerians, in the face of the violent attacks by security agencies, on the APC, as well as Mr. President’s desk.” PDP stated.

The PDP said it is not surprised that in his over 20 minutes speech, Mr. President never made any commitment towards upholding the democratic tenets of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association and right to peaceful protest, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and our statutes, from which he, as APC candidate, drew huge benefit in 2014.

“Our party is cataloguing all the infringements which the APC and President Buhari are rudely imposing on Nigerians and we urge all global democratic institutions to take note of the violent infringements and clampdown on democracy in Nigeria by the APC,” the party said.

GOVERNOR Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, yesterday joined other protesters in Ibadan, the state capital to mark the June 12 Democracy Day.

Makinde shocked protesters when he drove himself to the venue with a few security details. His presence elicited loud cheers from the protesters.

Shedding light on what transpired, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, told The Guardian that the governor was moving round the town, when he ran into the protesting youths around Osuntokun area of Bodija. He added that the governor got down to address them and urged them to be peaceful.

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state berated the governor for such action, describing him as a security risk in the state.

The APC, through its Caretaker Committee Publicity Secretary, AbdulAzeez Olatunde asked: “What else will confirm to the good people of Oyo State that the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Engr Seyi Makinde, is actually the one funding the miscreants that are responsible for the insecurity in Oyo State than the June 12 rally in which the governor, with his convoy of vehicles were seen clearly amongst them?”

In the early hours of the day, most roads in the metropolis were deserted, while security agents were strategically positioned to forestall a breakdown of law and order.

Many residents of the state stayed in indoors initially, but by midday, many youths gathered at Iwo Road,  and moved to Sango area before heading to the University of Ibadan gate. They later gathered at Mokola Roundabout, and at the entrance of the Oyo State Secretariat Complex.

The convener of Workers Convergence, Andrew Emelieze, who was among the protesters said the suffering in the country has been at all-time high.

Emelieze said: “We are here in solidarity with Nigerians who have decided that June 12 should be a day of protests. We are protesting against insecurity and pervading poverty in the land. To sum it up, the slogan for this year is: June 12, Buhari Must Go. We are tired of bad governance. We are tired of Buhari. We are tired of failed promises. Youths all over the country are protesting telling Buhari to resign. Nothing good can come out of him. This Democracy Day is more than the day of mourning. It is a disaster…”

SOME residents of Osun State, yesterday, sat at home for fear of being molested, or arrested, while others defied warnings by the State Police Command, and stormed the streets to express their displeasure over what they described as bad governance and insecurity in the country.

The protesters, including some students carried placards which read, “Return my Twitter;” “Nigerian youths are not lazy,” “Buhari must go;” “Resign if you are tired, Buhari;” and “Restructure Nigeria Now;” among others.

As the protesters gathered at Oke-Fia in Osogbo around 8am chanting songs in praise of the late Moshood Abiola, amid heavy security presence, patrol vehicles of security agencies were stationed at major junctions, including the State Secretariat, Ola-Iya, Aregbe, Oke-Fia, Dele Yes sir, and Old Garage areas of Osogbo. Military and police were on patrol to maintain law and order.

Shops, offices and business activities grinded to a halt for the most part of the day.

One of the leaders of the protesters, Comrade Waheed Saka, told journalists that they were demanding for a better country that works for all.

He asked Buhari to resign if he was overwhelmed with the affairs of the nation. “Our people are living in fear, everybody is indoors because there is no security of life and prosperity. Nobody can rob us of our right to protest. Nigeria is so insecure and very poor, that’s why we are clamouring that Buhari is incapacitated. We are asking him to resign if he is overwhelmed. Because of Buhari’s incapacitation and incompetence, people are living in fear and hunger. We must continue to fight for development, for good governance,” Waka said.

Meanwhile, Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola has said the absence of strong institutions, equity, justice, political will and fairness was responsible for Nigeria’s wobbled nationhood and democracy.

He stressed that the country must find the courage to institute these virtues and values in its polity to build a strong, virile and prosperous nation desired by the citizens.  Oyetola said the time has come for the leaders to begin to look through the rear-view mirror to correct the anomalies in the journey so far by developing the political will to birth a nation and a democracy that will truly make Nigeria to occupy her place as the Giant of Africa.

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