A former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, has berated the Nigerian government for the cancellation of the planned anti-government protest.
Popular Nigerian hip-hop artiste, Innocent Idibia, better known as Tuface, who had been at the vanguard of a much-publicised February 6 anti-government protest, cancelled the plan on Saturday, citing “security challenges”.
“Dear Nigerians, after due consultations, it has become clear that the #OneNigeria protest scheduled to hold in Lagos and Abuja on Monday the 6th of February is under serious threat of hijack by interests not aligned with our ideals,” the multiple award winning musician said.
“The point I am intent on making is not worth the life of any Nigerian. It is, in fact, motivated by the need to demand a better deal for the ordinary Nigerian.
“I therefore announce the cancellation of the planned protest. We’ll share further information in due course,” he added.
The planned protest gained traction with several public figures and civil society groups pledging to be part of it on Monday.
Tuface called for nationwide protest against Nigeria’s worsening economic crisis that has seen costs of goods and services skyrocket, with many families struggling to survive.
But police warned against the protest after initially promising to provide security. Police authorities said on Friday they had “credible intelligence” that other groups were planning a counter protests on the same day and at the same venues, saying the event could turn violent.
But in a series of tweets on Sunday morning, Mrs. Ezekwesili, a vocal member of #BringBackOurGirls campaign group, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to allow Nigerians cry out their pains.
On her verified twitter handle, @Obyezeks, she tweeted, “Mr. Pres @MBuhari Mr. VP @ProfOsinbajo Allow the people of your Land CRY OUT their pain on Monday. LISTEN, EMPATHIZE & RETHINK POLICIES.”
Explaining further, the former minister decried the claim of Nigerian Police that it could not secure participants at the protest.
“Mr. Pres @MBuhari Mr. VP @ProfOsinbajo Your Govt CANNOT SECURE YOUR CITIZENS THAT WANT TO GATHER AND SPEAK THEIR PAIN TO YOU? Haba. Haba,” Mrs. Ezekwesili said.
“Mr. Pres @MBuhari Mr. VP @ProfOsinbajo The people of your Land are CRYING OUT in PAIN. Ask God for WISDOM to GIVE THEM A GOOD ANSWER,” she added.
She also implored the Nigerian government to listen to citizens’ plight and not bully them into silence.
“Mr. Pres @MBuhari Mr. VP @ProfOsinbajo When the people of your Land CRY OUT in PAIN saying, “Lighten our yoke”, you listen NOT REPRESS,” she wrote.
In its reaction to the announced cancellation by Tuface, a civic group, Enough is Enough Nigeria, has said it will proceed with it without the pop star.
In a tweet through its official handle, @EiENigeria, at 11:19 p.m. on Saturday, the group announced its resolve to go ahead with the protest without Tuface, adding that it respects the artiste’s decision.
“We respect @official2baba’s security concerns but the marches in #Lagos & #Abuja will go ahead. #IStandWithNigeria #OneVoiceNigeria,” the group said.
Meanwhile, mixed reactions have trailed the cancellation announced by Tuface.
Ogo chris, a twitter user, said: “2baba was just a voice. Nigerians are stronger than the forces that be. Common Nigerians we can!”
Toni bliss, another follower, tweeted, “thanks for the leap. will never take tubaba serious for anything in my life. the protest must GO ON. #ISTANDWITHNIGERIA.”
Another user, opposed to the rally and tweeting via @Woye1, said ” no March again. Better go to ur office on Monday. Security officers should do d needful. Go and make money.”