Protest Held in Lagos, Abuja,Ibadan, Benin, Ijebu-Ode and London.
IN SPITE of initial threats by the Police, many Nigerians protested the harsh economic conditions in the country, yesterday, with marches in Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Benin, Ijebu-Ode and London, saying ‘’enough is enough.”
While protesters in London and Lagos Lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari speaks to Nigerians to douse mounting fears over his health, other protesters in Nigeria issued a 12-point demand including the removal of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Babachir David Lawal.
Protesters However, there was a pro-Buhari rally in Abuja where the proponents lauded the government on its achievements so far, saying what the government needs is support and not antagonism.
Responding to the protests, Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, told the protesting Nigerians that their message has been well received by the Federal Government. Acknowledging that the protests fall within the purview of their fundamental human rights to demand a better economy, Osinbajo said that the government is also disturbed that many Nigerians are groaning and suffering from the pangs of hunger and poverty.
This is coming as National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, begged protesters, who stormed his Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos residence to be patient with the government, adding that things would get better with time.
Meanwhile multiple award-wining musician, Innocent (Tuface) Idibia, one of the organisers of the protests, who chickened out at the last minute, yesterday, denied rumours that he was arrested just as Personal Assistant to President Buhari on Social Media Platform, Lauretta Onochie, said the government did not bully TuFace and had no reason whatsoever to stop protesters from expressing their grievances.
We hear you loud and clear – Osinbajo Though not a direct address to the protesters, who took to the streets of Abuja and later tried to make inroads into the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Acting President spoke at the Consultative Forum on Economic Growth and Recovery Plan, EGRP, held at the Old Banquet Hall of the State House. Admitting that the economy is in deep crisis, Osinbajo however said that the government is determined to better the lot of the citizenry. He said: “I am pleased to welcome you, our partners in the private sector to this very important consultations on the ERGP.
We are in a serious economic situation and the President was particularly concerned about the lot of the common man. And I quote him, “recession today means many things for many… for some it means not being able to pay school fees, for others not being able to afford high cost of rice and millet and for most of our young people recession means joblessness…” “I for one have been across the states and even today, some people are out on the streets protesting.
Many of our people are saying the same thing, that things are hard, things are difficult. But what I will like to say to every Nigerian is that ‘we hear you loud and clear’. “The government is one that is determined to give the ordinary man a fair deal. We are determined to recover the economy. You have a right to live well and decently, demand for a better economy and we are committed to making that happen.”
The Acting President also sought understanding of Nigerians, saying that years of destruction cannot be corrected overnight. “Years of deterioration cannot be remedied overnight but again, I must emphasize that it’s our business and duty to ensure that we put the Nigerian economy on the path of sustained growth and that is exactly what we are determined to do.” He gave highlights of government efforts at putting the economy on the path of sustainable growth, noting that the social intervention programme, which included payment of N5,000 to the poorest citizens on monthly basis was one of the ways to cushion the effects of the harsh realities of the times. “We have in the past
18 months intervened three times to states to enable them have enough resources to pay salaries and the last intervention was in December when we paid the Paris Club refund to the states.
This is money that the Federal Government was owing states since 2005 and even oil was selling at 115 Dollars per barrel, this debt was not paid. “The President insisted when he was going to pay that money to the states that at least 50 per cent of it must be to pay salaries of workers.
We tend to ensure, of course, that that is what is done. Many of the states were able to pay salaries and backlogs of pensions in December because of that particular fund that was made available to the states. “Those have been the concerns of the President and the Federal Government to ensure that as much as possible, the most vulnerable in our society, those who earn salaries, those who have no work, market women, the man on the street take as little of this pain as possible. “The home-grown feeding programme has started in several states; it will provide opportunity for farmers all across the country. We are also providing credit facility to 1.6 million traders and artisans.
The economic recovery growth plan is engaging the private sector to seeking more practical ways of putting the economy back on the right track. The Federal Government on its own cannot do it alone. Your participation is your own commitment to the future of our country and to those coming behind us,” Osinbajo told private sector operators.
Nigerians protest in London, demand five-minute speech from Buhari In London, some Nigerians stormed the Nigerian High Commission, demanding a five-minute speech from President Buhari regarding his state of health and state of the nation. The placard-carrying citizens resident in the United Kingdom, also demanded to see the President, who is in the country.