Editorial

Before another protest over hunger, unemployment

Last Monday, Nigerians woke up to protests against the Federal government in major cities that include Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Osogbo, Port Harcourt and Uyo.

 The protests were majorly based on President Buhari Muhammadu’s leadership pattern that has amplified poverty across the country while the voted “change” promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) has not been felt.

The current macro economy has persisted for long and Federal government must quickly plan on its fiscal and monetary policies at addressing critical economic issues.

Those in Abuja had accused Federal government of protecting corrupt people in his government while demanding the removal of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, for alleged graft.

They insisted on transparency and accountability in the utilisation of bailouts, Federal Government revenue and expenditure among others

A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, was one of the anti-government protesters.

The federal government should have address Lawal in a transparent manner by allowing Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the allegation.

Part of the APC manifesto was to fix power within six months, fix dilapidated refineries and tackle inflation. Yet, over 20 months into the administration, the power situation has worsened.

Also, in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, hundreds of youths joined their counterparts in other parts of the country to protest bad governance and also demanded the whereabouts of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 The protesters arrived at the Ibom Plaza in the morning, carrying placards with various inscriptions, decrying unemployment, high cost of living and power situation in the country.

 Unemployment rate and cost of living are two major issues government at all levels must address with decisive measures and policies.

In Lagos, hundreds of protesters, majorly youth trooped out to protest government insensitivity to the sufferings of Nigerians.

A serious contention about 2face Idibia’s decision to quit the protest had sent a wrong signal to other protesters in Lagos and Abuja.

The protesters later went on under the aegis of ‘Enough is Enough Nigeria’ and were led by the Executive Director of the group, Yemi Adamolekun; social activist, Charles Oputa, aka Charly Boy; and Publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore.

The protesters marched through Ikorodu Road and took a detour at the Ojuelegba Roundabout, before heading for the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu.

Speakers at the Lagos rally had protested against government indecisive policies and called for a revolution, a means at which Nigeria can be “changed”.

Those in Lagos protested over Buhari’s decision to seek medical help in a London Hospital while Aso Rock has a multi-billion naira hospital.

Charly Boy said the protest would continue until government heeded the call of the masses, adding that the absence of 2face had not affected the protest.

“Next month, there will be a bigger rally. We are going to shut down Abuja. We are sending a message to them. We have suffered enough. Our mumu don do,” he added.

The National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had urged protesters across the country to be patient with Federal government, stressing that protests could not solve the problems of Nigeria.

The nation’s economy has suffered dwindling revenue attributable to fall in global oil prices and corruption under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The present administration has recovered billions of naira from top politicians and Public servants through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Of recent, the Federal Government announced recovery of $151 million dollars and N8 billion looted funds from three sources through whistle-blowers.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this in a statement on Sunday saying the biggest amount of $136.7 million was recovered from an account in a commercial bank, where the money was kept under an apparently fake account name.

“This was followed by N7 billion and 15 million dollars from another person and N1 billion from yet another,” he said.

The protest undermined the worst economic situation Nigeria as a country is facing with inflation rate close to 19 per cent (18.55 per cent as at December).

The 18.55 per cent inflation rate is the highest since October 2005, as prices continued to rise for housing, electricity and food.

Inflation Rate in Nigeria averaged 12.29 per cent from 1996 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 47.56 per cent in January of 1996 and a record low of -2.49 per cent in January of 2000.

Buhari’s administration must not underrate revolution under his administration as masses are hungry and desperate for change in their welfare and development of economy in general.

The federal government recovered looted funds must be utilized into infrastructure as promised in the 2017 proposed budget, create jobs and improve on power supply across the country.

Fight against corruption must cut-across key political loyalties and not one-sided as Nigerians are anticipating.

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