Momodu, Oputa, Omotola, others Join march to National Assembly by Nigerian Youth

ABUJA – A coalition of prominent youth leaders and young people from across the country rose to the challenge and staged a peaceful march to the National Assembly in Abuja. The historic push named ENOUGHISENOUGH Nigeria is a coalition of individuals, business leaders and organizations and was intended to be the most ambitious of youth initiatives aimed to effect peaceful transformation in Nigeria.

The demands of the youth include;

1.End the fuel scarcity,

2. Solve the electricity problem  

3.We want to see our president and we want all those who have been involved in the grand cover up around him to be investigated, arrested and brought to book.

Nigerian youths or those below 35 make up 70% of the population. 

Photos by Dayo Adedayo

Agency report by Trendy Africa Nigeria @ 2010

The Day after the Revolution

It was revolution day last Tuesday, March 16, 2010. Like all great movements in history, the momentous occasion was not foreseen even if foretold. It crept in on us like Yar’Adua in the night. The stage had been set for decades with Nigerian leaders killing the future of our kids with reckless abandon. A vicious cycle of military coups had taught us no lesson. We had learnt nothing from the bloodiest civil war that claimed millions of innocent lives. We seem to have been cursed by the worst leadership famine and pestilence in Africa. Nigerian politicians are of the worst grade. From being one of the greatest nations on earth, Nigeria has been downgraded to a failed state.

Whether we love or loathe Ghaddafi, he didn’t say anything new when he said his nonsense about us a few days ago. We’ve already divided our nation into North and South, courtesy of our ruling party. Has Acting President Goodluck Jonathan not been disqualified from contesting next year because of an unconstitutional arrangement that has been concocted to rule out an entire region, no matter the competence of the aspirant? The melodrama of recalling our ambassador was our quintessential style of leaving leprosy to treat eczema.

 The pride and giant of Africa, a country of the most fertile brains in the world, has been reduced to a Lilliput in the comity of nations. Illiteracy has been elevated to an art. Mediocrity has become our way of life. We are the greatest swimmers in the cesspit of corruption. Elsewhere, people do the jobs to steal. In our case, you don’t have to do it at all to rake in the billions. A N63 billion runway is about to be built in a completely rundown airport, built itself about only a decade ago with billions. Our flagship in Lagos, Murtala Mohammed International Airport has remained a shame of the nation, while there is nothing international about the airports in Kano and Port Harcourt. The reason for the abject decadence is not far-fetched. Leaders are usually selected from a database of cronies, and dregs of society, who usually feel appointments into power and government can only be an invitation to treat.  Merit has long gone comatose. Who really cares?

There is always a cast-iron alibi in the name of Quota System, Federal Character, Zoning Formula, all acronyms for backwardness and laziness. God gave us the best. We chose the worst. Civil servants dress to work like Emperors. Those who should serve the people always trample on their fellow citizens. When they build roads, we see depraved minds at work. No drains. No depth. No ambition. All we see is the determination of a few politicians to appropriate what belongs to all for self. No consideration for tomorrow. Money is the new religion, which is good to have but not when it is a stolen item. A thief is a thief, only the weapons differ, either pens or guns.

 The assumption is we don’t deserve any better. The road from Lagos, through Ibadan and Oyo, to Ilorin has remained terrible for decades. Yet our friends in power have not fought with the same frenzy we see when it comes to Federal allocations. They have not deemed it fit to struggle for its transformation and modernisation like we find in Dubai and other serious nations today. Most of these leaders virtually live in Mecca and Jerusalem. But none has seen the necessity to rebuild our cities into paradise on earth.

Not a single hospital in Nigeria has been fitted to cater for such intensive care that we find in other places because the politicians have unrestricted access to public funds to travel with whenever they and their wards fall sick. They have chosen to treat us as animals of the jungle. Yet all major hospitals abroad parade some of the best and brightest Nigerian doctors, surgeons, nurses and other medical and paramedical personnel. We have lost our most active brains to foreign universities. The few ones remaining at home are those most probably suffering from the incurable virus of patriotism, in a nation where it is no longer fashionable to send kids to Great ABU, Great IFE or Great UNN. Most of the universities are in their various stages of dilapidation. Only about 4,000 out of 0ver 200,000 candidates passed NECO exams according to a news item. It is no longer at ease here.

There must be over 12 generations of unemployed graduates in Nigeria roaming the streets in total dejection and submission today. And those very lucky to be employed are currently losing their jobs in droves. The banks in particular are axing jobs and salaries with a vengeance in this era Lamido Sanusi’s wizardry. Those who have mortgages can no longer pay. School fees are suffering. Electricity continues to play pranks. Diesel has become the most essential commodity in this season of sorrow.  Armageddon is here.

It was in this frustrating state of hopelessness that the seed of last Tuesday’s revolution was sown. Most Nigerians worldwide have caught this bug of hopeless hopelessness. Everywhere you go, Nigerians are moaning and groaning. Even the rich are crying as their pockets are leaking in torrents. Those living abroad want to come back home but there is no inspiration from this direction. All they get is bad news.

The Future Youths Awards hosted in Lagos recently was the perfect ground for the sowing of the revolution seeds the world witnessed last Tuesday. I was privileged to be a part of it. Apart from enjoying myself thoroughly at the MUSON Centre venue, I was greatly inspired by the rejuvenating speech of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who challenged the youths to use their numerical strength to torpedo the old norms that have kept us down through the ages. She said statistics have shown over 70 percent of the population are youths. And that it was the nonchalant attitude of the youths that made it possible for the politicians to rig themselves in with impunity. She was emphatic that the youths have no one to blame if the politicians rig themselves into power again.

The audience erupted in an orgy of thunderous ovation as soon as she ended her speech. We were all fired up. I had always argued that the new pop-culture and technological advancement in the world would deal a fatal blow on useless governments and this was put to test at our rally. I was not too surprised when I got an invitation from MrFixNigeria Ohimai Godwin-Amaize, the founder of BLING Global Network, to join what was aptly tagged the Enough Is Enough Nigeria Group. The Gathering was a coalition of youth organisations, individuals and collectives, aiming to effect peaceful transformation in Nigeria. The beauty of it for me was decision of these patriotic Nigerians to work together. No one allowed ethnicity, religion or gender to play a role in scuttling the brilliant dream. All Nigerians were victims and sufferers who could no longer keep arms akimbo as Nigeria drifted dangerously.

I accepted the invitation without equivocation. Enough Is Enough Nigeria was a bunch of successful Nigerians who bonded well. Some of them you could describe as silver-spoon kids who got tired of unending troubles in our country. They included Tolu Ogunlesi, a category winner in last year’s CNN Journalist of the Year; star actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, founder of Omotola Youth Empowerment Project; Toyosi Akerele, team Leader of Rise Networks, whose ability to mobilise youths has become legendary; Chude Jideonwo the Creative Director for Redstrat the organisers of the Future Youth Awards; Alkassim Abdulkadir, of BBC World Service Trust; Amara Nwakpa, founder of Light-up Nigeria; Audu Maikori, Chief Executive Officer of Chocolate City Abuja; hardworking Adebola Williams, the Director of Operations for Redsrat; Efe Omoregbe of Now Muzic, Emmanuel Odiase, founder of Smoke Free Foundation; Ogobor Joseph, founder of IREP Naija Foundation; Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria; Sade Ladipothe CEO of Avienti; Balkiss Adesokan, the publisher of GREEN magazine, and others. There was no way I would have snubbed the company of these great guys.

I was in a meeting with the Area Father Charles Oputa (aka Charly Boy) in my Abuja home when the call came from Ohimai that it was time to join the parade at the Eagle Square. I politely told Uncle Charles we had to terminate our meeting as I was billed to support the Enough Is Enough Nigeria rally. He wondered why I had not told him about it despite spending most of the past 24 hours together. I apologised that it actually escaped me and asked if he’ll honour us with his avuncular presence. Charly Boy, the ever-dependable friend of the masses, agreed and I told my personal assistant Tega Okiti to take Charly Boy to his palace in Gwarimpa because he wanted his superbike for the usual stunts. The dream of a great rally was turning into reality.

At the Eagle Square, I saw a scanty but resolute assemblage which grew by the minutes. I saw Omotola, Stella Damasus, songstress Omawunmi, Muma Gee, and others, and it struck me women were true liberators indeed. The rally soon took off with palpable anxiety. The overbearing presence of security forces didn’t help matters. It was like a journey to Golgotha. And I was in a permanent state of soliloquy. I kept praying against any mishap.

As we crossed the main road and headed towards the monumental National Assembly, I saw a massive detachment of security officers in the horizon. They appeared menacing even in their calmness. I saw the barricade upfront, and wondered why decent Nigerians would be disallowed from getting to the arcade of the National Assembly, which was traditionally reserved for protesters. At the barricade, we were politely told we’ll not be allowed to walk the last stretch to the arcade. We asked for a good reason, and got the reply that the instruction came from above, as usual.

 We opted to seat on the road and block the passage of all vehicles. There was this powerful music booming from our mobile deejay. It was a Fela beat that Omawunmi took to an amazing crescendo. She sang her best song, like the Thornbird would do from her depth of pain. She sang with passion, and we responded with rapturous delight. We sat there for about two hours by which time Charly Boy had joined us. He sat with us on the bare floor. We saw many vehicles turning back. Someone said there was an escape route which we chose to ignore on this occasion. At a stage I told Charly Boy we must offer strong leadership and try to persuade the security forces to allow us in, or force our way in.

The Sergeant-at-Arms would later come out to throw in a dampener. After trying to dribble us with semantics, he requested that we should hand him “all instruments of peace we’ve brought”, which many misconstrued as “weapons”. The obviously smart man wanted to receive the letters of complaints on behalf of the principal officers of the National Assembly though he had earlier told us he did not work directly with them. After that move failed, Charly Boy and I moved towards the barricade. I told the officers that since all entreaties had failed, and we were scandalised at the manner our celebrated actresses and celebrities were made to look like common criminals, our decision was to move to the last option.

I must have been inspired by those footages I saw on CNN from the freedom rallies in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, and felt it was time to tell the world our story of valour. We’ve read of such stories in the history of Nigeria and wondered at what stage men stopped being men in our climes. No one was going to end this rally without a powerful drama. As I tried to cut through the police cordon, I felt a hand on my throat. One other grabbed my shirt. The whole place was now in a state of commotion. I heard a cacophony of voices around me and felt a blistering push at the barricade. Before my very eyes, and with a glowing pride, the wall of Jericho fell. And the massive crowd spilled like locusts in all directions. The police threatened a few people. One of them even held his pistol ready to shoot Audu Maikori. Our valiant brother told him to go ahead. That picture is all over the internet telling many tales of the struggle. Like the Mau Mau struggle in Kenya, people’s power won the day. At that stage we had achieved what seemed impossible. Everyone including the police hailed us as we marched forward. The protest was being streamed live on the internet and radio. I received messages from friends watching us in the United States and Europe. They were all expressing their solidarity with our mission.

Expectedly, the main gates of the National Assembly were firmly locked. We knew we had made our point that enough was enough, and should end the rally.  By evening, the great trek was all over the air including CNN and our own ubiquitous Sahareporters that served the juicy photographs fresh. It was a rude awakening of the limitless possibilities now available to our youths.

As fate would have it, the day after the revolution, Acting President Jonathan surprised the nation with the dissolution of the Federal Executive Council. It offers new windows and fresh air to a New Dawn, if the hawks can be ignored for once. Time will tell.      

by Dele Momodu, Publisher of Ovation International


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