Being the convener of arguably Nigeria’s most prominent intellectual youth gathering ‘THE NATIONAL CAREER FAIR’, I have, firsthand, been involved in the development of the Nigerian youth; a faction that constitutes over 50% of the entire country’s population. A few days ago, I stumbled on some information on the internet, precisely, a call to march, by Innocent ‘2Face’ Idibia a.k.a 2Baba to publicly rebuke the inactions of our government towards our plights and sufferings. Oh! At last! Some action, was my first thought.
Personally, I have always been bewildered at the level as to which the Nigerian government has belittled us to. No water, no electricity, bad roads, poverty, inflation, lack of security and other vices, however, the most ridiculous parts are, on one hand, the unaccountability- the fact that they (government officials can do anything without accounting for their actions to the public), and on the other hand is the fact that they make it seem like they are doing us (the masses) a favor. We in turn, ‘deitize ‘them when they eventually do as low as 5% of their constitutional obligation to us. Anyone can understand Mr. Idibia’s conviction when he says ‘Say no to the executive, no to legislatures, no to judiciary…you have all failed us… We the people are tired, we can no longer continue with all of you…’
In 2012, a march was led by top celebrities to stop the then president, Goodluck Jonathan from removing the subsidy, thus averting a fuel price hike. It worked like magic and the fuel price was reduced to a favorable rate for most people. While most people (including myself) do think the march will be a great idea and will affect change (a word I’m most skeptical to use at the moment), I have other concerns as to the time which the call has been made, the caller of the march, and most importantly the true motif behind this march.
Like is mentioned earlier, I am writing this piece out of good will, and I honestly do not have the intention of smearing or chastising anyone’s image, however the truth must be told. Barely a month old after the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode led Lagos State Government successfully executed its ONE LAGOS FIESTA with numerous artistes, entertainers and celebrities in attendance. Afterwards an artiste has risen up to say he wants to be given answers as to why we are suffering and he demands to know what the recovered money has been used for. I find this funny, not only because these artistes were paid millions of naira to perform at the ONE LAGOS FIESTA with tax payers’ money or looted funds, but also because this sudden call for ‘the march in LAGOS’ was not echoed long before now or more specifically before the ONE LAGOS FIESTA little wonder most entertainers are claiming unavailability or outright refusal to attend this march. . It is therefore a complete aberration for any artist to stage a protest in the same environment that has contributed immensely to growth of the entertainment industry (you cannot bit the hand that fed you).
Something that caught my attention was the fact that during Jonathan’s tenure, people were ready to march without reason and during the subsidy removal; the whole nation was down the previous president’s throat. On the other hand, when the subsidy was removed during this tenure, no one was willing to march. While we castigated the NLC for being unreasonable to the plight of the people when president Buhari assumed power and removed the subsidy from the fuel price. Why then has the need to arise and march come at a time when elections are fast approaching and the presidency seems weak become a top priority? Could it be ‘an eye for an eye?’
Another issue to analyze is Mr. Idibia’s contribution to the society. It is true that he initiated the VOTE NOT FIGHT campaign which was a great innovation, but its authenticity can also be questioned. Judging by Mr. Idibia’s precedent and his failure to contribute to youth development and job creation in Nigeria, we might be forced to say this ‘CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME’. Taking a sneak peek into what has been trending in the news recently, one would wonder how 2Baba has been quiet about the gory situation in his own state of origin – Benue state. Every day, a fisher man or farmer is reportedly killed by Fulani herds men and yet this was worth just a post from social media only by 2baba about. You might want to argue that this march is a national one so it covers it all, but don’t be quick to forget that one doesn’t wear P.O.P all over his or her body when only the arm is fractured.
Benue state recently agreed a peace treaty with the neighboring state where allegedly the murderous Fulani herdsmen were coming from: yet not a single word was uttered about this by our ‘peace maker’ 2Baba. Let me take you back to the years when the Senate President was David Mark, both hail from the same state but the former was unpopular even in his own constituency. The then Senate President went on to open his own private university at a period of time when the federal institution BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY was shut down for months thus growing his unpopularity rapidly. At this time, we heard nothing from the African Queen Crooner who is most loved by the Benue people as this is portrayed by the massive turnouts of the Benue people for his Star Trek Concerts whenever he is headlined in Makurdi.
Taking a look at his catalogue, you will be convinced that he has always been an activist. This time, the main question is- is he doing this for people because he feels their pains or just to score cheap publicity points in a process that sees him dropping a new record or body of work? How many artistes/talents within his FESTAC or Benue home has he signed to a record label or mentored to become a successful artiste? (Olamide, Wizkid, DonJazzy, Davido are worthy examples). Just two years ago, he staged a well attended wedding ceremony in Dubai, contributing to the GDP of another country, ignoring our own local event planners, vendors and caterers. Unlike some other young successful entrepreneurs like Akin Alabi (CEO, Nairabet), Sijibomi Ogundele, Ifeanyi Uba, Toyin Lawani (CEO, Tiannah Empire) who are job creators and also inspires other youths towards positive inclinations, one can ask how much support Mr. Idibia has given to youth empowerment initiatives in our Nation.
In March 2009, a march against power failure was organized, however it made no headway, as up till today we bask in darkness. My point here is based on the fact that the opposition party always uses this march as a tool to make the ruling government look weak (for example, it’s no news that the APC was behind the march against subsidy removal by President Jonathan in 2012. It is true that the ploy won’t be fruitful if the ruling government has performed at or above par; however, the motive behind these marches is always the main drive. Are we certain about our security during the march? Certainly, I might appear to you as a chicken right now, which is not willing to journey that walk of freedom. However, has the thought of being set up crossed anyone’s mind?
What if the opposition wants a march to provoke the armed forces of the ruling government, thus causing casualties? Or worse still, the opposition plan with the armed forces to injure or kill innocent protesters and blame it on the presidency. Either ways, we (the masses) suffer.
I am not at liberty to use direct words here, but I came across some comments online which has cemented my belief that while the cause might be innocent, the actions might be blemished. Coincidentally, a certain brotherhood movement aligns with the keyword of the march, which can be tagged ‘freedom’. Although, this brotherhood preaches freedom and emancipation, it is a hard task to vouch for any member or even the organization, thus many of its members, including top celebrities have expressed their availability for the march in lingua that is attributed exclusively to this ‘group’. On the day of the said protest, Lagosians and other Tax Payers will experience serious hardship in carrying out their day-to- day business activities. This is in addition to the risk of crime amidst the usual breakdown of law and order that characterizes such unorganized mammoth gatherings. The cons far outweigh the pros and the endeavor itself is an ill wind that will no doubt wreak havoc on a number of levels. Therefore, the guarantee of a peaceful and safe march is not 100% assertive.
I use this medium to encourage true Nigerians to be wise in their dwellings, it is safe to say that the march is a gesture of true patriotism; however, one must be really careful as motive supersedes all. I encourage Nigerians to call for justice and accountability in all ways they deem fit, march, protest or empowerment. The most important thing is to be true in whichever way we wish to call for accountability.
I seize this opportunity to employ our youths to refocus their energies and time towards self discovery, skills & talent acquisition, and entrepreneurship development activities. I also implore youths and fellow Nigerians to emulate several career role models who have created their success stories amidst difficulties.
In recession, new millionaires are made. This is the time for everyone to obey Nigeria’s call of conscience and hope in order to help rebuild our nation. We need more successful entrepreneurs, professionals and organization who will invest their money in other startups, volunteer to provide internship, work study and training opportunities to develop a skillful workforce.
GOD BLESS NIGERIA!!!
CONVENER, NATIONAL CAREER FAIR.