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Reaching the Moment of Truth – Going Beyond a Protest

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017 3.15 PM / WebTV Editorial 

The right to initiate, encourage others or/and join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is an acceptable critical element to building a functioning democracy. 

This must never be ignored, overlooked or denied under any guise or circumstance.  

A contrary view as to intent, motive or genuineness will be a journey into subjective territory. We got to this stage by exercising this singular act – protest against conditions, situations and actions which hold the people down…..and our history is replete with examples of individual, group and corporate protests. It is part of our DNA. We are a nation of protest.

The right to protest is a perceived human right arising out of a number of recognized human rights and a key component of a matured / maturing society; in as long as it does not pivot to a “propaganda for unrest or war”. The risk of this being hijacked, misunderstood or disrupted is a part of our history as a people. We have been here before and we have accepted this as a way of engagement between the state and the citizens.  

It is in my view a commendable step when those who are well off choose to become advocates for change. The outcomes are often much larger than the narrow limitations of the act itself. It is a wake-up call to all; not just the government but the private sector, the elite, middle class and the disadvantaged. Indeed, the law enforcement agencies who would have to deploy on the day are not immune from the socio-economic challenges underscoring the protest.  

Yet, what and how we get out of this challenge into a better place will have to be done ‘beyond the protest’.  We should prepare ourselves for this phase of the ‘process’ which is crucial lest we create conditions for exploitation of this lofty civic responsibility. 

The fact that this planned protest has engendered discussions in itself speaks to the value of such initiatives. It has succeeded in the first place – bring to the fore and indeed the national consciousness that we have to discuss our way out of the situation we find ourselves. 

People are hurting, in need of answers and direction; in some cases some empathy, assurance that they matter and indeed that the elite-centric approach to governance will yield not to tokenism but to a more responsible governance structure.  

It is not the end-game – but a critical part of the process for change which I am sure this government gets.

While this protest will challenge the current government, it must be noted that it speaks out loudly against all those who served in governance that are still holding elective office or political influence. It is and must remain however the responsibility of the current government to respond by addressing the concerns raised(including managing expectations).

For those who do not know, Nigeria is a “Nation of Protests” and that has characterized the country from the struggles/agitations  for independence, democratic rule, good governance, credible elections, resource control and the ethno-religious concerns.

We are at the moment of truth in Nigeria. This is an economic, social and political truth and while it currently looks like a problem response/reaction; it is indeed (and with a benefit of hindsight in the future) a key part of the process of engagement to re-calibrate Nigeria as a viable sovereign entity.  

Right now, it does not work for all but a few. 

For those sitting on the fence, the message ‘from the streets’ is clear – You must engage in the political process and efforts to rebuild Nigeria in one form or the other.  

Viva Nigeria!  

God Bless the people and leaders of the Federal Republic.

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