Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu, popular comedians and other prominent Nigerians are taking part in an anti government protest organized by the civil society group, Enough is Enough, EiE, which kicked off Monday morning at the unity fountain in Abuja with the slogan ‘I Stand With Nigeria’.
But another pro-government group known as the Buhari Volunteer Network also took to the same venue to drum their support for the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The pro-government group says it was holding a march on the same day as the anti-Buhari group to let the people know the achievements of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
But leader of the ‘I Stand With Nigeria’ group, Chidi Odinkalu, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, said that the protest was to register the frustration of the ordinary Nigerian with the government of the day, and also to demand good governance.
“We thumbed Buhari into office in 2015 because he promised to do a lot,then he got into power and he has never addressed us,” Odinkalu said.
“When he wants to talk to us he gets into a plane, travels abroad and starts gossiping about us.“Are we so useless that our president cannot address us? Are we so idiotic that our president cannot tell us that things are hard?
“We don’t get answers, we don’t get empathy and we are told we cannot protest too? What kind of country is that? What kind of citizens are we?”he queried.
It would be recalled that the original initiator of a nationwide protest, Musician Innocent Idibia, popularly known as Tuface, withdrew from the campaign on Saturday, citing intelligence reports that the planned exercise was going to be hijacked by hoodlums.
The police had stated that it could not guarantee the safety of lives and property if indeed miscreants took advantage of the protest to cause disorder.
But Odinkalu wondered who made the law that people could only protest if they were licensed by the police.
He also said that it was regrettable that President Buhari who sold himself to Nigerians on the promise of fighting corruption, has now surrounded himself with corrupt individuals as inner cabinet members.
“This administration came into power to fight corruption and now, next to the president is the man now known as the grass cutter general of the federation.”
Odinkalu was apparently referring to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, who was indicted by the Senate for allegedly awarding contracts worth millions of Naira to a company where he had vested interest, for the removal of “invasive weed specie” in Yobe State.
“Fire the SGF, fire the grass cutter!” he chanted as the crowd chorused in response.
Also commenting on the state of health of the President, Odinkalu said:“On this Monday morning we don’t know where our president is. We want to know because we care.
“On 18 January we were told that our president was going for a 10-day vacation. Yesterday we were told he is waiting for his medical test before he will return. Last week, fake pictures of the president meeting people in London emerged.
“Last night, Femi Adesina said people can get sick; people can even die and Shehu Garba said he spoke with the president’s doctor and was told he is well.
“Now think about it, if the president is well, who is Shehu to speak to his doctor.“If the president is not ill, why should people be circulating fake pictures.”
The anti-government protest is also holding in the city of Lagos and the State Police command, led by the Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, is reportedly on ground with his officers and men, to provide adequate security for the protesters.
Popular figures including musicians, comedians and actors are reportedly taking part in the protests; among whom are comedian Seyi Law and controversial musician, Charles Oputa, popularly known as Charly boy.