Enough is enough Nigeria: Any politicization?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

By Oluwole Odetayo

 We are certainly living in trying times in our national life and a novel situation is upon the nation. We have never had a president that fell so ill leading to call for invocation of constitutional provisions by some and resignation by others by groups, individuals and even government officials.

 One group with important personalities is a coalition with the tag “Save Nigeria Group” SGN with important Nigerians like Professor Wole Soyinka, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Mr. Femi Falana and a host of other known activists. Ordinarily one would see their agitation in relation to President Umaru Yar’Adua indisposition as nationalistic and devoid of political considerations even while some of them have one political affiliation or the other. But a cursory look at the two rallies they held in Abuja and Lagos under the theme “Enough is Enough” clearly shows some politicalbias.

The first rally was held in Abuja and saw the group traversing the federal capital territory unmolested under Police watch terminating in the open space of the National Assembly (NASS). As the rally was widely publicized with the proclaimed intention of delivering a message to the National Assembly, the management of NASS made adequate preparations for the leadership of the federal legislature to receive the delegation. As some of them are expected to be elder statesmen like Professor Soyinka, Chief Emeka Ojukwu and Alhaji Balarabe Musa, chairs were provided to take care of these category of protesters, an indication of the legislators resolve to facilitate this democratic process. For the first time in NASS history, the gates were flung open. Hitherto such demonstrations/rallies were received at the gate. This was the case when Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole the Speaker of the House of Representatives received protesting officials and members of PENGASSAN protesting against deregulation of the oil sector not too long ago.

When they arrived both Chambers of the NASS were in session and as usual leaders of the group made statements in turns under the direction of Professor Wole Soyinka while awaiting the leadership of NASS. Words soon came out from Senate that its leaders would not receive the delegation as there is a pending case in courts on the issue they were protesting against. But Bankole decided to come and receive the delegation and their petition for consideration by the representatives. He left the plenary of the House in care of the Deputy Speaker Alhaji Bayero Usman Nafada and arrived the venue in company of some of the principal officers of the House like Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, the AC leader in the House and Hon Aminu Tambual the deputy chief whip of the House.

But uncharacteristically Professor Soyinka posed what amounts to an unnecessary question requesting to know if the protesters want to hear from the Speaker, to which the already sensitized crowd shouted “NO” thrice. Indeed , Bankole only came to receive their petition as is the democratic norm the world over and would only have spoken after receiving such maybe thanking them for their orderly conduct and assuring that their petition will be looked into. But this was not to be as probably playing to a script, Professor Soyinka abruptly ended the rally. It was a disappointed Speaker that left the venue as the protesters did not leave any petition/demands for the representatives to work on in resolving the constitutional issues thrown up by the illness of the president.

Indeed, Bankole made reference to his disappointment when he received another petition from a group of eminent Nigerians led by Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, former Senate President where he made allusions to lack of due process in the “Enough is Enough” campaign when the eminent Nigerians visited few days later. But he promised that all demands presented would be looked into in line with constitutional provisions and national interest.

Note worthy is the fact that the protest was boycotted by some elder statesmen earlier announced as participants like Ojukwu, Balarabe Musa and Gen. Mohammdu Buhari who it was gathered were privy to some of the political leaning of some of the campaigner and decided to stay off.

But it was at the Lagos version that the political bias of the “Enough is Enough” campaign came out in bold relief. Expectedly with a mega polis like Lagos it attracted far disproportionately larger protesters than the Abuja version. The major political different however was in the conduct of the protesters and it leadership. The protest, which transverses Lagos ended up at Alausa Government House in Lagos. Here a prepared speech was read by Pastor Tunde Bakare and dully handed over to Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos. The Governor was then allowed to address the crowd as part of the democratic process.

Observers have started to see the dissimilarities in the two “Enough is Enough” rallies as a pointer to political undertones which some of the respected participants may not be privy to. It is pointed out that inspite Speaker Bankole sacrificing his presiding over the Green Chamber to receive the petition from the protesters he was denied this opportunity in pursuit of an agenda as he is from PDP, the ruling party that the group is opposed to. On the other hand the protesters gave Governor Fashola their demands /petition and allowed him to address the crowd because he is from AC, one of the major opposition party to PDP led by the federal government.

 Could these observers be right that beyond the issue of president’s health is a campaign to oust the ruling party/President from power using pseudo democratic means that is now being shown through political biased. This assertion rings true as the observers pointed out that some of the placards of protest carried by protesters read “Allow Ribadu to Return Home” this was aptly captured in the Aljazeera News report of the event. It is now a puzzle linkage of the return/handover/resignation of power to Vice President to the return of Ribadu whose case is still pending in the court. Instructively one of the major participants in the protest is Femi Falana, the Chief Counsel to the case of Ribadu. The question now is “Are some people of favour in the scheme of things sponsoring these protest?”. Certainly there is more than meet the eyes in this “Enough is Enough”

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