The 'One Voice Nigeria' Protest: Issues & Matters Arising! –Ishola Adebayo

February 10, 2017

The video of a man, who has four kids to take care of in Lagos, went viral after he uttered a statement in an interview. He actually promised to “carry gun” once the government do not find something positive to do about the hardship in the country as soon as possible. In short, he will establish militancy in Lagos, replicating those in the South-south region. To be candid, the man spoke the minds of many Nigerians who are finding it difficult to cope with the recession.

It saddens to know that the “giant of Africa’ is not actually taking its used-to-be forefront position as regards some stances in the continent of Africa. The economy is going down the drain, insincerity, corruption’ marginalization, insecurity etc are the order of the day to the pain of Nigerians. All of these led to the expression of Innocent Idibia, a legendary musician with the stage name 2Baba, who doubles as an advocate of peace. 2Baba declared he would lead a protest on the 6th of February, 2017 in order to express his bitterness and grievances towards the hardship people are facing in the country. However, 2Baba pulled out of the protest after series of threat, especially from the Nigerian Police. Reactions followed as notable civil society organization, EIE-Nigeria, tweeted that they respect his opinion but then, the protest must go on! And it did!

On the issue of pre-protest threats, we practice elective democracy with a clearly defined constitution which defines the rights and privileges Nigerians can enjoy hence; citizens must be able to express their displeasure with their elected representatives in a lawful manner. To be candid, if as much attention was paid to good governance, our circumstances would be much better as there won’t be need for any government to intimidate protesters to which they have rights.

The change that Nigerians were promised has not been delivered and a road map to the desired destination are yet to be communicated. Agreed, looted funds were partly refunded and ‘some’ politicians have been facing the wrath of law, but how has that brought food to the table of the common man?

It is highly uncalled for to have elected legislatives, who are concerned with how they can continue to siphon their constitutuency allowances, display regular showoffs with continual changing of exotic cars. Many atimes, crucial questions on pertinent issues are left unanswered especially as it concerns constant review of their allowances. The issue of the budgetary process is also there; padding has become a norm and these law-makers are actually making laws to enrich their private pockets. Quite alright, it is normal for people to go broke, not excluding states too. The pathetic thing is how these state governments misappropriate the bailout funds. Where is the case of the governor who kept the bailout funds meant for his state, with his girlfriend in the United States? Swept under the carpet as usual. Inhumanity at its peak! Proper monitoring should be maintained on how states spend these bailout funds, a governor should never receive these funds and continue to pay his workers half salaries.

Speaking with One Voice, Nigerians are totally against the irregularities that are being perpetuated by those in power. The government must be as transparent and accountable as possible. We can’t continue to preach anti-corruption when some people are diverting the foods meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Also, the issue of insecurity has been a bane on our societal progress. The fact that the government seems to be sluggish in making some decisions pertaining to the issue of security is highly worrisome. The incessant killings in Southern Kaduna and the rate of kidnap in Nigeria is alarming.

Even Ghana celebrates constant power supply. On the other hand, the giant of Africa can boast of having generator-made electricity than any other thing. The importance of power supply cannot be over-emphasized. Uninterrupted power supply encourages industrialization thus, providing job opportunities and increasing Nigeria’s GDP. At this point in time, the government should roll out an emergency power plan that will see to making epileptic power supply, a thing of the past. Better still; a round peg should be placed in a round hole.

Undoubtedly, the cost of governance is too high. The people who actually need these funds are not getting it. It is hilarious to know that a Nigerian legislator in a developing country earns more than the chief executive of a developed country. There is the urgent need to reduce cost of governance across board and improve the standard of living for the common man. The budgetary process is also poor and allows for fraud. An open contracting data standard should be looked into, so that the budget and procurement data are linked in a way that allows citizens see clearly what has been funded. There is also the need to have citizen consultation so that citizens have a direct say in the budget process.

In short, a vital observation we got from the protest is that once Nigerians speak with one voice, it will go a long way in making the government act responsibly.

Fellow Nigerians, the time has come to remain as unified as ever. When we speak with one voice, we will go far in making our grievances known without any form of hindrance. Indeed, the excesses of these politicians must be checked regularly. They are there to serve us, not themselves. A house divided against itself will surely not stand.

As Nigerians who love the country, we will continue to demand for transparency, accountability and good governance.