Despite the cancellation of anti-government protests planned by a popular musician, Innocent Idibia, popularly known as 2face, hundreds of Nigerians, on Monday, trooped out to protest the harsh economic situation in the country.
There were protests against the government in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Osogbo, Port Harcourt and Uyo.
There was, however, another protest in Abuja, supporting the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government and its achievements.
Operating under the aegis of #IstandwithNigeria Coalition, the Abuja anti-Federal Government protesters accused Buhari of protecting corrupt people in his government while demanding the removal of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, for alleged graft.
Members of the coalition, who started their protest from the Unity Fountain, Maitama, marched towards the Presidential Villa.
Singing anti-government songs by the late musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the #IstandwithNigeria coalition insisted on transparency and accountability in the utilisation of bailouts, Federal Government revenue and expenditure among others.
The protesters also demanded the full disclosure on the secret recruitments by the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation among others.
At the Aso Rock Junction, armed riot policemen blocked the protesters from accessing the Presidential Villa.
A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, was one of the anti-government protesters.
Addressing members of the group at the Aso Rock Junction, Odinkalu called on Buhari to “sack the grass-cutter in his cabinet,” a reference to the SGF for his alleged involvement in a N200m contract award for grass-cutting in the North-East.
The youth, mostly dressed in different shades of green and carrying placards and banners with various inscriptions, caused gridlock on the busy road.
Odinkalu, who read a statement, expressed disappointment with the Buhari’s administration, saying it had failed to deliver on its election promises.
He reminded the government of its promise to fix power within six months, adding that over 20 months into the administration, there was still darkness in the land, noting that poverty had worsened.
“We want to know how many children of big persons have been hired by the NNPC, CBN, INEC and all the big offices across the country. We want to know how much the grass-cutter stole in order to make our IDP’s go hungry and we don’t want the grass-cutter to hire the President as his lawyer.”
Odinkalu added that the nation deserved to know the condition of the President, insisting that Buhari must address Nigerians on his health status.
He warned that the protesters would return to the streets if the situation in the country did not improve by May 29,
“We give this government notice; by its second anniversary on May 29, 2017, they must show substantive result of the things we have raised. Today, we are here with a yellow card. On May 29, if things are not better, we will come with a red card,” he stated.
Another speaker, Deji Adeyanju, accused the President of protecting corrupt people, stressing that the current administration had committed worse sins than the previous administration.
“We have a grass-cutter in Aso Rock, who stole from the IDPs and is being protected by President Buhari; we have Buratai, who stole government money, built houses in Dubai and is being protected by this government,” he stated.