Nigeria Spring, Tuface and Feb 6th 2017 Protest

Nigeria is a conundrum, a country at crossroads, a race car which pulled a stop to change tires and oil its engine but unfortunately, the previous engineers which were managing the car to stay in the race have been asked to leave and some supposedly “experts” recruited to continue, many of whom are incompetent coupled with a chief engineer who is known to have failed to guide any team to victory. Nonetheless the new engineers took over the workshop of team Nigeria using evil machinations and dangerous scheming. Whilst the racing car was in pit stop, other racers have overtaken Nigeria. Team South Africa, Egypt and others are now in pole positions, the chief engineer has disorganised the team to the point that it has become impossible to even continue in the race. Owners and fans are displeased and have voiced their concerns all these while, some believe the chief engineer will get things right but we have got to almost the middle of the race and it has become intractable, winning is now an impossible task, except in another tournament. Those who watch car racing, one game which I still ask myself till date, the rationale behind the speed and money spent, will relate the above analogy to the Nigerian predicament.

In the year 2015, President Muhammad Buhari was given the mandate to manage our democracy and continue the 16 years of uninterrupted democracy, expectations were high and many Nigerians were full of hope for the new administration. However, some of us remained sceptical because it was glaring that Buhari lacks the capacity to manage a modern Nigerian state in a contemporary world. Aided by former US president, Barack Obama, with a unanimous support of the 19 northern states and support from the South-West, he rode to power on a platform of change. Former President Goodluck Jonathan represented continuity but Nigerians were disgruntled, for many ethnocentrism held sway while for others if they could tell themselves the truth, GEJ was a symbol of progress. I was born between the Gen X and Y and I can categorically inform you that since I was born, Nigeria has deteriorated steadily, it never got better. I remember with nostalgia as a young boy, I would be sent with less than N1 to go and buy kerosene and as we grew up, the price kept rising. That was the trend I used to know. To elucidate, it was only during GEJ’s administration, I witnessed price reduction in commodities, both essential and otherwise. We are all aware of the price decrement of petrol. General prices of goods remained stable for years, we bought things in the supermarket at same price for many years and sometimes I would be informed that a certain product has reduced price by N5 or more. We all took these benefits for granted. Some surmised that it was the effect of the brief oil boom of about 4 years while other constantly lived in denial of the shrewd and enterprising administrative brilliance of the GEJ’s administration. They claimed it had nothing to do with the stability and progress we experienced. Our foreign exchange, monetary and fiscal policies were managed to world class standards and Nigeria reckoned with many developing countries as emerging economic gladiators.

The government of GEJ was lampooned by many calling it corrupt. While I will not exonerate that administration of corruption, but I would tell anyone who wished to hear that what they perceived as corruption was more of a change of power brokers, managers and beneficiaries of government. Those who managed the economy and controlled our economic resources were dislodged from Nigeria’s capital which used to be an abode of the Alhajis. As new set of people from the South-South and South-East that have hitherto not had access to contracts, oil wells and political power were now calling the shots. To buttress my point, imagine that the president of Nigeria controls a budget of N40 billion for the presidency aside the national budget, given all his estacodes and allowances and ability to influence who gets contracts at the presidency, does he need to steal to make money? Those who screamed corruption were rogues that wanted to be given the keys to the nation’s vault. It was an aberration for those who have been at the helm of affairs that some minority from South-South were now in control. The cheapest way to blackmail these new guardians of the national treasury was to label them corrupt. They went further and extreme in their ethnocentric tendencies feeling short-changed then resorted to terrorism to oust the sitting government. They assembled under the umbrella of APC and they achieved their aim using overt and covert means. They packaged Buhari, a man who failed to move Nigeria forward in his 40s, didn’t improve himself in 30 years and sold him in his 70s to Nigerians who fell for their scam.

For keen watchers of our polity, the probability that Buhari would succeed was less than 30%. This is not the case of wishing your president to fail but it was a clear case of hiring a CEO that lacks the prerequisites needed to lead a company in troubled times of external, macro and global economic upheavals. Here we are in 2017, two years after Buhari took office, and Nigeria has retrogressed such that correcting the issues that have gone bad would take many years beyond the lifetime of this present administration in 2019. Just as we finished January 2017, the naira hit N500 to $1. You can go to the market in the morning and return later in the day to be informed that prices of goods you purchased earlier has skyrocketed. Hunger is in the land, whilst salaries and earnings have remained the same, their values have diminished and many cannot afford to feed properly any longer. The number of Nigerians that have been thrown into joblessness is bewildering and at the last count, third quarter of 2016 over 4.5 million people have been rendered jobless. The scary aspect of the whole thing is that the future is so bleak and Nigeria lacks that exceptional, exemplary, innovative, democratic, unbiased and transformational leadership to rescue it from the downward spiral. The matter is complicated by the fact that the president is the problem, he is the reason why Nigeria is in a mess and we are stuck with him for two more years if his health does not deter him to return from vacation and continue. Nigerians have taken all the suffering of the past two years with giant strides but have reached their elastic limit. Over the past two years, it looks like Nigerians have been jinxed and are under a spell, they keep hoping and believing that some miracle will emerge somehow, but the fact remains that the premises for progress are not there, the factors that can drive the positive developments needed are nowhere to be found. While many have been playing safe given the government high handedness and clamp down on peaceful protests vis-a-vis IPOB and Shiites, the people cannot take it anymore and they are ready to orchestrate their version of the Arab Spring.

Out of the blues, help has come from Tuface Idibia, I need not introduce him. He is an icon and one of those that heralded the blossoming and ground breaking Nigerian music industry. It filtered in on social media that he is headlining a protest to register Nigerian’s disenchantment to the tactless Buhari’s administration. It started like a joke, some dismissed him, others accused him of being sponsored by the opposition, and some alleged it was one governor, his alleged benefactor that is the fire behind the smoke. Be it as it may, the Tuface’s foundation will be leading a nationwide protest across Nigeria to inform the Buhari administration that Nigerians are fed up with his dubious change mantra and that his body language is suffocating them and it’s not enough to mouth “good intentions” and remain the most incompetent administration in memory. The government initially moved against the protest, threatened Tuface with a ban against the protest but the heat was too much and given the change of government in the United States, a no-nonsense administration that will not think twice to slam Buhari’s administration with sanctions, if it’s anti-democratic tendencies which has been its hallmark is not put in check, has deployed covert means to dilute the message of the protest. They have worked tireless to recruit and utilize civil society organisations particularly, Enough Is Enough (EiE) to infiltrate and disorganise the Feb 6th protest. The EiE has hijacked the protest and have marshalled out strategies aimed at sabotage of its goals. While the initial idea of the protest is to register dismay at the catastrophic leadership of the Federal Government headed by Buhari which has failed to move Nigeria forward, they have altered the objectives. They want the protest to be targeted at all levels of government from the LGA, to the states and the FG causing the protest to lose focus. Those who are aware of their scheming have blown their cover and have deciphered their unscrupulous ways of political jobbers and governments agents sent to whittle down Nigeria Spring. The states are not the reason why our monetary policy is in shambles, they are not the reason while the economy is in comatose, and protests at LGA and State level are localised affairs not a national issue. A governor cannot fix federal policies that are killing businesses and rendering Nigerians jobless. This protest is about Buhari, it’s a litmus test and referendum on his capability to engineer positive change. As we speak, Buhari had failed woefully in his two years sojourn as Nigeria’s president and that is what the protest is about, Nigerians should not lose focus as they hit the streets of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Kano to ask this government to get ready to park and go.

I need not commend Tuface, his place in history as a patriotic Nigerian, a defender of our democracy, a harbinger of positive change and a true legend is reserved. Nigerians cannot stomach the ineptitude and incompetence of Buhari any longer and with one voice, all we are saying — enough is enough. If President Buhari is overwhelmed, the option of resignation is a path of honour which he can take. Further deterioration is unacceptable and therefore, #WeWillProtest, #IStandWithNigeria and #IStandWithTuface

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