BY CHUKS NWANNE
Tired of just sitting by their computers, tweetering their frustrations about the country online, young Nigerians under the umbrell of Enough Is Enough Nigeria, have finally resolved to take the campaign for change to the streets of Abuja, with the National Assembly as their final destination.
Billed to hold on Tuesday, March 16, with take-off from the Eagle Square, the decisions to embark on the peaceful rally is part of resolutions at an emergency meeting of the group held recently in Lagos, with the resolve to rise against corruption and bad leadership in Nigeria.
Based on comments from some members of this group, it appears the ailing president’s case, the unending poor power supply in all parts of the country, electoral reform, as well as the Jos crisis that has gulped hundreds of lives, are part of events that actually angered the future Nigerians into action.
Despite the order recently issued by the Nigeria Police Force, restraining individuals and groups from staging any form of rally/protest in the Federal Capital Territory – for ‘security reasons’ – the body, a coalition of prominent youth leaders and celebrities from across the country, insists that the proposed rally, which kicks off at 11am, must go on to save Nigeria from it’s hopeless state.
In her keynote address at the Future Awards, held recently in Lagos, the Managing Director of the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had accused young Nigerians of withdrawing, amid a generally drifting state of affairs and growing tide of corruption in the country.
“Things are happening in the country and our youth are not doing enough to protest. I am not trying to excite anybody to go into violence, but in a country where things don’t work, the youth stage peaceful protest to address the situation. Nigerians are known to be aggressive in other countries, but when they come to their country, what do they do? Nothing! If you live here without doing something to uplift Nigeria, then you are not a true Nigerian youth,” the former Finance Minister said at the event that had thousands of young Nigerians from both home and abroad in attendance.
From all indications, it seems the youths have finally decided to raise their voice in accord against bad leadership in Nigeria. With the proposed Enough Is Enough Nigeria rally, it’s obvious they’ve resolved to save their future from the hands of corrupt politicians, masquerading themselves as leaders on the corridors of power.
“This is a coalition of individuals, organisations, and collectives, intended to be the most ambitious of youth initiatives aiming to effect peaceful transformation in Nigeria,” said Tolu Ogunlesi, winner of last year’s CNN Journalist of the Year awards.
“Most of us have only ever seen guns in the hands of armed robbers and armed policemen. Our weapon is anger, enlivened by a sense of history, and of destiny, and tempered by reason. And, very importantly, we are determined not to make the mistakes that those who went before us made, revolutionaries who ended up creating systems in dire need of revolution,” Ogunlesi submitted.
Actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, whose youth empowerment project, OYEP, is also part of the protest, said, “we’ve had cases of people who died as a result of generator fumes. We cannot continue to sit on the fence and allow just a few people in government eat up our future.”
For Toyosi Akerele, team leader of Rise Networks, “silence is not golden; we have to speak up! Our children will live in worse situations than we are in now if we don’t do something. It is a crisis of values for me to take up a job I cannot handle. The rallies we are doing are not an anti-Yar’Adua campaign but an anti system campaign. Look at what is happening in Jos… it’s a failure of leadership and we are angry!”
The Creative Director of Redstrat, organiser of the Future Awards, Chude Jideonwo, noted that, “the drama surrounding President Umaru Yar’Adua’s health has effectively derailed the country. But Nigeria is bigger than one man! The president should neither resume, resigns or be removed from office before the end of this month. And if he resigns, all those involved in these unconstitutionalities should be brought to book! There’s the issue of power supply, and then there is the issue of fuel… it’s just shameful. Enough is enough,” he harped.
For those, who would interpret the protest as an anti-Northern agenda, the rally actually involves young people from different tribes and regions; North inclusive.
“There’s no Northern or Southern demarcation here,” Alkassim Abdulkadir, formerly with the National Assembly stated. “Young people across Nigeria are one in their anger; Muslim or Christian, South-South or North-Central, rich or poor…we are all marching to Abuja in one accord; to take a stand, and let our voices be heard.”
“This is the important first step,” said Nze Sylva Ifedigbo, Abuja-based coordinator on the group. “Young people need to make a statement that we are an important voice in this country.”
Ifedigbo observed that more than 70% of Nigeria’s is below 35, adding: “We’ve had enough of this rubbish. Many young people have realised that it’s not enough to be angry on Facebook and Twitter; it’s time to walk the talk. So, all the young people who are tired of everything that is wrong in our country are going to show that we are not taking it anymore.”
Meanwhile, some older Nigerians such as Prof. Pat Utomi, Hon. Abike Dabiri, Chief Dele Momodu and others, have pledged their support for the rally, with some of them promising to join in the protest aimed at salvaging our great nation from the hands of a cabal, who view the country as their private property.
Other young celebrities involved in the protest include rapper MI Abaga, Timi Dakolo, the Rooftop MCs, Eldee, Banky W, Omoni Oboli, Matse Uwatse, Denrele Edun, Segun Obe, Ohimai Godwin Amaize and others, who will be joining from other parts of the country. Organisations involved in the initiative include the Rise Networks, the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, Abira Foundation, Gbagyichild Entertainment, Chocolate City, The Future Project, The Movement for Islamic Culture and Awareness, amongst others.
According to a release issued by coalition, the rally is only the first in a chain of actions leading up until the 2011 elections.
“We will be working vigorously to actively participate in the polls as well as mount pressure for electoral reforms. Enough Is Enough is a double-edged sword; it is a message both to us (that it is time to leave the comfort of our computer and mobile phone keyboards, and seek to exert authority in the real world) and to the powers-that-be (that enough is enough of taking Nigeria and Nigerians for granted,” the statement reads.
In his latest album, Germany-based-Nigerian artiste, Ade Bantu did a track with Azadus titled, Marching To Aso. A politically charged song, the track commented on Niger Delta and other issues affecting Nigeria.
“So often, you feel helpless; you feel like your voice is not being heard and that politicians have become immune to your words. The longer I stay in Nigeria, the more I get frustrated. For instance, I don’t tell my driver to buy fuel for me, I do it myself; I queue for about two to three days, so, I know there’s a problem,” Bantu frowned.
Oh yes, there are lots of problems facing this nation, most of which are man-made. But the good new is that the young people have woken from their slumber to say to the politicians, ‘Enough Is Enough!’