Convinced of the justification of their sustained protests against socio-economic deprivations which have become the hallmark of public governance in recent times, scores of residents in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, have continued to commend civil society organisations in the territory for fighting for rights of the vulnerable millions of Nigerians denied socio-economic dividends of governance over years.
The residents noted that if it were not for the daring protests and other civil actions against corrupt political regimes, Nigeria would have ranked high among countries with despotic and authoritarian leaders who are more of a curse than blessings, given the way they pursue self-serving interests to the detriment of the governed.
Last week, in what appeared a rekindling of their recent agitations for people-oriented governance, a coalition of well-intentioned and patriotic activists, again, made another clarion call on ordinary residents to join their struggles against corruption in public governance in a peaceful rally that took them through major streets near the corridors of power to the National Assembly.
The leaders of the rally were trailed by hundreds of protesters carrying placards with inscriptions like ‘No to Corruption’, ‘No to Deregulation’, ‘No to Rape’, amongst other morality-driven clamour for a better society.
Speaking on the reasons why the coalition of CSOs, comprising over 10 organisations, decided to hold the peaceful protest, the National Coordinator, United Action for Democracy, Jaye Gaskia, said the rally, with the theme, ‘Say No to Corruption in Nigeria’ was organised to protest the increasing level of corruption at all levels of governance and the seeming lack-lustre disposition of the leadership in tackling it.
He explained that it was particularly disturbing that the President, “who should be the arrowhead of the fight against corruption has, by his recent ‘Presidential Pardon’ granted Alameisiegha and others who are facing charges, demonstrated he is not ready to curb corruption, but tactically condoning it”.
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Mallam Ibrahim Musa, said mobilising Nigerians for the rally is their intention ‘to tell the government in a peaceful and legal way that we are no longer ready to accept their current position which supports corruption with impunity’.
Musa, who described the pervasive socio-economic injustice in the country as intolerable, said the civil society will continue to “take our demand for a transparent and socio-economically fair and just society to the highest levels of government with a view to expressing the feelings of millions of Nigerians against corruption and all forms of injustice in governance”.
In his remarks, the Executive Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Debo Adeniran, specifically blamed political leaders for the nation’s underdevelopment through what he called their increasing poor disposition to the war against corruption at all levels of governance, adding that this has continued to inflict more pains on ordinary people as the years roll by.
“We are totally convinced that the current leaders are not ready to fight corruption both at the private and public sectors and this has continued to undermine efforts of the people to improve their well-being. This rally is part of our efforts to tell government that it can no longer be business as usual for corrupt leaders and their cronies in the country”, the CACOL boss said.
To the Coordinator of Citizens Wealth Platform, Barrister Eze Onyekpere, the rally was another way of demonstrating to government that Nigerians are no longer comfortable with the massive despoliation of the commonwealth, adding that civil society organisations are prepared to sustain their agitations.
“We are going to sustain our protest against this senseless approach to governance and regime of greed that is manifesting in all facets of our national life just because the leadership is inept and lacks the political will to do the right thing”, Onyekpere said. Speaking on the rally and its purpose, an unemployed graduate, Chidiebere Nwachukwu, described the protests as good since they are intended to correct the injustice in the land. “The leaders have failed, so the civil society organisations are the last hope for the common man in the land. I give kudos to them”.
Another resident who resides in Lugbe and participated in the rally briefly who simply identified herself as Rakiya, said: “We want to thank this people for fighting for us. I don’t know anybody and they destroyed my kiosk where I was selling food. I don’t have any job again. So, this people are to us like a saviour and we thank them”.
In his comments, Mallam Kabiru Isa, an artisan based in Yanyan who watched the rally at the road side, pointed out that “if we have people like this to keep fighting for us, Nigeria will change. Today, the leaders don’t care for the masses. They are only helping their children and brothers. This people fighting for the common man are our friends and we support them”, he said.