•Protesters, security agencies have rights —Presidency
INNOCENT idibia, otherwise known as 2face Idibia or 2baba, has insisted that the nationwide protest, tagged iStandwithNigeria, which was earlier slated for February 5 and later moved to February 6, would hold as planned. He said that there was no going back on the protest that had already received the support of many Nigerian youths.
He told a television station in Lagos on Friday that Nigerians should join him at Surulere, the take off point of the protest on Monday.
Reacting on his twitter handle also on Friday, 2baba in a retweet of his earlier statement, cautioned against tagging the protest anti-Buhari, stressing that it was strictly against bad governance in Nigeria. “Protest is not anti- Buhari, it’s against bad governance in Nigeria.”
According to him “This is not a point-scoring exercise. It is not about tribe or religion. It is simply for the unrepresented. Our leaders owe us their ears too and they must hear us. This march is about connecting the government with the citizens.”
2face maintained that his intention was never to take credit for the movement but rather to amplify the voices of the organisation credited with the widely circulated message.
The movement, ReportersAtLarge gathered, will start from the National Stadium, Surulere by 8:00 am while it will kick off at Unity Fountain, Abuja by 9:00 am.
His declaration came as Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said, on Friday, that the government respects the right of the organisers to protest under the law.
He, however, stressed that security agencies too have the right and constitutional duty to maintain peace, law and order.
The popular singer, while speaking in an interview with ReelTV, enjoined members of the public to share their thoughts on social media platforms.
“We need to move. Nigeria is greater than all these. Let’s keep selfish interests away from Nigeria. Let’s work. Let’s cooperate. Let’s make things happen. This thing is no longer a one man thing. It is all of us, Nigerians.
“Between now and Monday, February 6th, I ask you to share your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. You can also send sms to 09023555335. How are these issues affecting you? How is it doing you? What are your daily struggles? No matter what part of the world you are in, I encourage you to share your thoughts.
“Join me on Monday at Surulere. You also do it wherever you are. You can do it online. You can match from your office. Just participate. Use any of the hashtags, istandwithNigeria, istandwith2baba, OnevoiceNigeria,” he said.
Speaking with Saturday Tribune on the planned protest, a civil society group, Agenda for Change, through its Publicity Secetary, Mr Folorunsho Aminu, stressed the need for all Lagosians and Nigerians to rise up for real change.
“We have organised our members to join in the march. It is going to be a peaceful protest aimed at telling the government our heart desires.
“ The truth is that Nigerians are suffering and smiling. People are not finding it funny at all.
“People are literally dying of hunger as it were. It is sad and alarming that the government’s focus is not to build strong economic policies that would boost the lot of the average man. The rich and the poor and crying.
“This march is for the good of everybody. We should not just sit in a place and push the baton to TuFace and other notable Nigerians,” he said.
Also speaking, a human rights lawyer, Ebun Olu Adegboruwa said, “for the information of the police commissioner, Nigeria is a democratic country governed strictly in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. Section 39 of the Constitution grants freedom of expression, including the right to be heard and to disseminate information and ideas.
“Section 40 grants the right to associate and gather together. Section 38 grants the right to freedom of movement and peaceful assembly. I believe that Mr Fatai Owoseni has a copy of the Constitution, to guide his actions and utterances on this matter, instead of threatening innocent and law abiding citizens, who are responsible for his salary.
“The issue of police permit for citizens to gather freely, expired with the coming into force of the 1999 Constitution and we cannot now go back to the military era of shutting up citizens from legitimate expressions.
However, speaking in an interview with Lagos Talk 91.3fm, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said those who were calling for the protest were people who supported the last government and were still pained that they lost the last election.
“This is a country of about 180 million people. It is impossible for 180 million people to think the same way. The Yoruba have a saying that goes thus; if you all sleep and put your head in the same direction, then you are all foolish because you would be breathing in one another’s mouth and lungs. Don’t forget the last election and how it went. Somebody scored 12.5 million votes, another scored about 15 million votes.
Also, some civil society organisations, including Journalists for Democratic Rights, said on Friday that they would not be part of the crowd.
Adeoye, who spoke on phone with the Saturday Tribune, said while his group should be counted out of the protests, other major civil societies he equally belonged to, including Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) and Civil Liberty Organization (CLO), would also not be part of the action.
This was just as he said Nigerians hold the right to stage protest and such right should not be denied them, but contended that what many were not sure of was the motive behind the planned protest by 2Face at this time in question.
According to him, 2Baba has never been associated with fight for justice in the country and is also not known as a revolutionist of a kind, “even though he might likely fans who have political affiliation to parties in the country and out of enthusiasm may want to be part of the crowd of protesters that day.”
Comrade Adeoye, however, said the popular musician should be given the chance to hold his protest, contending that it was possible that the grave economic situation in the country might have brought out the spirit of revolutionist in him.
Also, a group that called itself the APC Northern Musicians Forum on Friday said it would not participate in the planned protest by Nigerian music icon, Tuface Idibia, over alleged sufferings in Nigerian.
Haruna Ningi, chairman of the Forum, who made the remark at a media briefing in Kaduna, said the protest was different from the ideology of the forum.
He, however, agreed that Nigerians were suffering, but insisted that the present administration met nearly an empty treasury and had to increase savings, to get Nigerians out of the present situation.