.DSS detains Sowore, RevolutionNow leader, as group vows to go ahead
.NLC, TUC distance labour from planned protest
Ukpono Ukpong, Abuja and Joy Obakeye, Lagos
The Federal Government has warned that the days of coups and revolution in the nation’s history are over, asserting that the ballot box remains the only constitutional means of changing government and an incumbent President in the country.
Reacting to calls for revolution by the Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria, the Presidency through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said that the administration is amazed that that at this period of the nation’s history, anybody can call for a regime change without recourse to a nationwide vote.
The Presidency observed that although President Mohammadu Buhari and his administration respect and uphold the rights of every Nigerian to peaceful protest and embark on civil campaigns whether to raise awareness on issues, and even oppose the government, it however declared that there is a difference between peaceful calls to protest and incitement for a revolution.
Furthermore, the Presidency added that the organisation championing the planned action is not fronted by any serious public faces and therefore, challenged the sponsors and organisers to come forward and make their identity known.
This identity of the sponsors of the protest, it stated, should be made public out of respect to all Nigerians, “so that Nigerians can be fully aware in whose name this revolution is being proposed and who the beneficiaries may be.”
Less than six months ago, the statement reminded, Nigeria held simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections, both contests were won resoundingly by President Buhari and the All-Progressives Congress (APC).
“The campaign was observed, and results were confirmed by international election monitoring groups and observers. The result was even contested by the losing presidential candidate and his party in court.
“The ballot box is the only constitutional means of changing government and a President in Nigeria. The days of coups and revolutions are over.
“Those making the revolution call hide behind the veil of social media modernity. But, without revealing the identity of their sponsors this shadowy campaign is no better and no more democratic, than the days of old.
“The President calls on all those who seek to use and hide behind everyday citizens to attain power through undemocratic and violent means, which has been alluded, to come out clearly and be identified.
“They should lead their march in person. Only then will they begin to have the right to call themselves leaders before the people of Nigeria,” the Presidency added.
Our correspondent recalls that the social and digital media has been awash of calls for a “revolution” march beginning today with the aim of bringing regime change in Nigeria.
It was also reported that the a frontline radical activist and presidential candidate of the African Alliance Congress (AAC) in the 2019 general election, Omoyele Sowore, was arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) over the weekend in respect of the planned march.
But, the RevolutionNow organisers which include several civil society organisations have vowed to continue with the protest and have also released the list of demands they are agitating against.
Lagos-based lawyer and civil rights activist, Inibehe Effiong, said the government should focus on addressing the issues that informed the planned demonstration, rather than cracking down on citizens for exercising their rights to speech, association and assembly.
“We have a list of demands,” Effiong said. “And everything borders around good governance,” he added.
The protesters said the demands have been broken down into three phases, each of which contains a laundry of critical issues that must be addressed failure over which the protest would not cease.
These are an end to anti-people economic policies, ending special privileges for the ruling class and lastly, returning political power and national wealth to the working people.
However, on Sunday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said that they have no plan to organise a mass action or street protest over any issue in any part of the country.
NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, and his TUC counterpart, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, in separate statements, said before labour embarks on any mass action or street protest, the issue(s) in contestation must first be thoroughly debated by its appropriate organs, adding that such a decision can only be taken by the same organs.
“Accordingly, we wish to state unambiguously that neither has such an issue arisen nor a debate for a mass action taken place, let alone a decision to proceed on a mass action. We are therefore, not involved in any street protest.
“We would wish to inform our members/affiliate unions, civil society allies and the general public that the Nigeria Labour Congress is neither organising nor getting associated with any mass action or street protest over any issue in any part or every part of the country in the days ahead,” Wabba declared.
Similarly, Comrade Olaleye of the TUC said “the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) wishes to inform the general public that it has no planned mass action or street protest in the country for now,” disclosing further that the body is also not in league with any group for any mass action in any part of the country.
“TUC remains committed to the corporate existence of this country in which all manner of people enjoy the right of citizenship,” Olaleye stated.
However, in the statement, the labour leaders explained that both labour centres hold the opinion that any group or groups reserve the right to express themselves in any manner they deem fit taking into cognisance the laws of the land.
“Nonetheless, congress respects the rights of the citizenry to freely associate and hold an opinion, and to peacefully protest against any policy or policies with which they disagree,” the statement concluded.
Similarly, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) on Sunday in Kaduna berated groups calling for “revolution” marches across the country, describing them as agents of destabilisation.
Spokesperson of CNG, Malam Abdul-Azeez Sulaiman, said at a press conference in Kaduna that the groups were at best agents of a foreign destabilisation plot against Nigeria, adding that after carefully reviewing the calls, the CNG has inadvertently arrived at the following conclusions.
“That the ultimate aim of the proponents of the march who are at best couriers of a foreign destabilization plot, has not been clearly and satisfactorily defined, which renders the whole exercise suspect.
“The CNG remains unshakable in its understanding that every civil disagreement can be resolved through honest, sincere and open discussions without unnecessary recourse to actions liable to further inflame tensions without achieving lasting results.
“CNG is not disposed to participating in, supporting, encouraging or in any way promoting actions that are potentially violent, sponsored by obscure organizations with suspicious motives. We have failed to see how the interest of, particularly the northern people, can be served by a movement led by those who have been directly or remotely connected to the decades-old agenda for the emasculation of the North.
“The CNG calls on all northerners to disregard the calls and resist the temptation of being dragged into participating in any way, in a movement that would turn out to the disadvantage of the region. While the CNG categorically, dissociates itself from the organization, promotion and participation in any conduct capable of worsening the already dicey situation the country, in particular the North, is in today.
“We reassert our commitment to the propagation and protection of the rights of all northerners and never to fall into the traps set by its traditional internal and external traducers in whatever guise. We are quite aware of the covert and overt machinations of some western supremacists to achieve the final destabilization of Africa by targeting some key African nations which may not exclude Nigeria.
“The similar foreign agenda that unfolded with the ugly scenarios of destruction in Libya, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Egypt and others are very fresh for us to realize the futility of jumping on a flight without knowing its actual destination.” he said.
Suleiman added that the North, at all times remains ready to enter into any civilized and decent discussion with any part of the country for whatever intent and purpose without succumbing to temptations of exposing innocent lives to unnecessary danger.
“Up to this point, the North has maintained its position as the bulwark of respect, integrity, dignity, decorum, tradition, decency, morality, civilization, etiquette, good behaviour, politeness, accommodation, and all other positive traits.
“In the unfolding political chess game, it is essential therefore, that the North anticipates and checkmates the manoeuvres of its self-appointed enemies in all possible and likely scenarios such as this one,” the CNG spokesman said.