‘One Voice’ protest goes on without Tuface, organisers insist
It came like a piercing anticlimax as millions of Nigerians already geared up for the much-publicized February 6 anti-government protest, woke up in rude shock yesterday to read that award-winning hip-hop musician, Innocent ‘Tuface Idibia’, who was leading the protest, has canceled the march.
The singer, up till late Friday, had maintained there was no going back on the planned protest, despite warning by security agencies that the rally was capable of being hijacked by hoodlums.
However, in a video released on Saturday night, Tuface, who eventually yielded to security advice, said it was not wise to go on with the protest, as the rally is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
He noted that consultations have shown clearly that the ‘One Voice’ protest scheduled to hold in Lagos and Abuja today, is under serious threat of hijack by interests not aligned with the ideals of his group.
“The point I am making is that the intent is not worth the life of any Nigerian. It is motivated by the need to negotiate a better deal for the ordinary Nigerian. I therefore announce the cancellation of the planned protest,” said the singer, in the audio-visual message that has since gone viral on the internet.
While critics of the protest continue to praise him for taking a wise step by desisting from an activity they thought was shifting his focus from his music career, his supporters have been divided in their reactions.
To some, it was an act of cowardice to bow to pressure from security agencies while to others, the singer’s outcry in the last two weeks has created enough awareness on the grievances of the people against some of the unfavorable policies of government.
However, indications emerged yesterday that the protest will continue without Tuface, as a group called Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution (CDNDC) has vowed to continue with the protest, saying it was never about Tuface alone in the first place.
In a press statement issued by one Ariyo-Dare Atoye, co-convener, CDNDC, “the cancellation of #IStandWithNigeria rally is not the consensus of Nigerians, majority of fellow planners and not a true reflection of the sincere plan to organize this rally in public interest.”
He said: “Let it be known that Mr. Idibia merely keyed into an ongoing public discourse over this protest to take a lead. It was never his singular idea but the concerns of the suffering masses.
“Therefore, we wish to inform concerned Nigerians and the international community that there is a national and public consensus for this protest to hold as scheduled in all venues. There are hundreds of groups and thousands of Nigerians who are leading this initiative and we will not back down.”
Meanwhile, the Police Assistance Committee (PAC) of Nigeria has kicked against the planned protest. In a statement signed by the Director-General of PAC, Dr. Martins John Oni, the body said the proposed protest, which had elicited much tension among the citizenry and was giving the police and other security agencies serious concern, could disrupt public peace and bring hardship on innocent Nigerians who might want to go about their normal businesses.
The organisation said what the country needed at this time was to support President Muhammadu Buhari and his government to continue in his anti-corruption drive without any distraction, and also concentrate on his economic policies being packaged to bring Nigeria out of recession, adding “ with a little patience, government will deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.”