Tunde, Dolapo and Emeka have abandoned their ties and sleek suits to wear green jerseys. The Lagos weather isn’t friendly as usual, the unfriendly heat and humidity almost makes it unbearable as they and a multitude of people drip sweat and rub shoulders as they move in a slow procession.
“Who ever thought that the Nigeria Police had this many tanks in Lagos, abi na overnight parols?” Emeka asks no one in particular.
The procession stops as someone climbs a makeshift podium to address the crowd as Bob Marley’s “Get up, Stand Up” is turned down just enough to form background music, in his neon jacket the unnamed man chants “One Voice” and the mass answers “I stand with Nigeria”, again “One Voice”, Tunde, Dolapo and Emeka raise they voices in unison “I stand with Nigeria!”
The “One Voice” protest lost its frontman Innocent “2baba” Idibia who championed the need for Nigerians to take to the streets and ask the government what is really happening, but not its voice.
It was a complete shock to watch the artist and maybe unintended critic of government, on his Instagram page, announce the cancellation of the protest (publicity stunt, anybody?) on the grounds of threats – But an NGO that 2baba had partnered with, EIE Nigeria, decided that the protest wasn’t over and would continue as planned.
As much as every other person would like to address the whys and why nots of 2baba calling the protest off, we must admit that it knocked the wind out of the sails for a movement that had been going so strong – it is popular practice by Nigerians to wait for someone to start a movement on a pressing matter while the rest pile along in the boat of crowd mentality.
But said crowd mentality can have an effect.
With less than 1.5 percent of its population on the streets, Romania has shown clearly where the power lies – with the people.
Sorin Grindeanu, the Romanian Prime Minister whose government has barely been in office for a month, faces increasing pressure to step down after many calls were made by protesting citizens following an “emergency ordinance” that was going to decriminalise corruption.
In the face of such, one wonders how Nigerians who are victims of corruption and the laxity with which it is approached in the country could spend their time cheering the return of James Ibori, a man convicted by a British court on charges of money laundering.
The power rests in the hands of the people and I think 2Baba should have had that in mind instead of just backing down. Protests are a sign of discontent, in Nigeria’s case one that has been growing with each passing day.
Probably, 2Baba underestimated his star power in being able to increase the outreach of the protest or as many feel he was just scared for his hide, nonetheless, Nigerians and citizens in various countries need to realise, the power is in the hands of the people.