Enough is Enough Nigeria Rally, March 16, 2010 A coalition of prominent youth leaders and young people from across the country held a rally at the National Assembly in Abuja today. The youths gathered for change in the affairs of Nigeria. “The rally was slated for 11 a.m. As at 9 a.m., men of the Nigerian police had begun to gather outside the Eagle Square take off point. The protesters marched to the National Assembly at noon, but were prevented from entering by a cordon of the police. Initially they sat down in front of the gate while the police representatives went in to get some legislators. After hours of waiting and chanting, the crowd, Col. Emeka Okere, Sergent-at-Arms at the National Assembly came out to say that the leadership at the house of Assembly was unavailable. He also asked that the youths release a letter for him to give to the house. The crowd insisted on seeing who they came for and gave an ultimatum – “It is either we march into the house by force or you bring Mark or Bankole to come out and speak to us. Bankole is not bankable.” The protesters carried out their threat and forced their way in at exactly 2.21 p.m. However, more policemen, now armed, were summoned to prevent the protesters from getting into the arcade. They stopped in front of the arcade and demanded for the leadership of the assembly to come out. However, they were told that the House of Assembly officials had escaped through the back door. Protesters were then urged by their leaders to head out and end the rally. The chairman of the committee on Youth and Sports of the National Assembly came out to see the protesters after an hour, but the protesters refused to speak to him.” NEXT
Credits: Gbenga Sesan, “ENOUGHISENOUGH Rally” by Esiarp Elegbede, CNN.com, Ogbogor Joseph, SaharaReporters.com and a wide array of media sources.
Disclaimer: cp-africa.com does not have a copyright for any of these photos. If you choose to post on your site please credit the sources above accordingly.
Letter to the National Assembly from the Enough is Enough Coalition
16 March 2010
The Senate President,
Three Arms Zone, Abuja.
Nigerian Youths Say Enough is Enough!
We are a coalition of Nigerian youth leaders, and we are drawn from a diverse pool – young professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, activists, celebrities, journalists, students, amongst others – and we are drawn from across the country, regardless of religion, tribe, location or social status. We are not the usual stereotype energetic, agitated youth: we are respectable, we are responsible, but above all, we are determined to change our country positively. Many of us are going to be the leaders of the key sections of Nigeria ’s society, economy and politics in the near future; in fact some of us already are. And for the first time ever, such a diverse group of youths is marching to the National Assembly, the home of our Constitution. We have come on a peaceful protest rally to the Nigerian Legislature so that today will be marked in history as the day when a new generation of young Nigerians decided that enough is enough. Too much in our country has gone so terribly bad, and the blame for this lies squarely on the shoulders of politicians, government and ‘leaders’ who have placed power play, narrow interest and self aggrandisement over and above the welfare and development of Nigerians. Even after the dark years of military rule, a decade of democracy has now convinced us that if care is not taken, new oppressors are always waiting in the wings, eager to replace conquered ones. Our civilian governments have taken us for granted too often over the last 10 years, over-promising and under-delivering. We have been cursed with a leadership that has sorely lacked integrity, patriotism, passion, good faith and compassion; a leadership that would rather feed their bellies and egos rather than solve problems. They are ruining our future, they are set to hand over to us a destroyed country and a failed state, and we say NO to that. We have had enough. And enough is truly enough. We have therefore resolved to actively participate in the battle for the soul of Nigeria . This march is only the first step in a series of many geared step towards creating the conditions for a Nigeria that will no longer make breaking news on CNN. Our demands for now are the 4 critical areas where we require urgent intervention to secure the future: 1. The Jos situation makes it clear that the Nigerian state is incapable of securing the lives and limbs of its citizens. How can we have a government and security agencies and people can just go in the dead of the night and slaughter hundreds of women and children? This is in addition to a litany of unsolved murders and wanton kidnappings. Enough is enough! We demand an urgent overhaul of the security and intelligence apparatus in our country: the heads, the structures and the people that power the structures need to go, and they need to go now. 2. The promise of 6000 megawatts was flagrantly broken and up until now, there has been no roadmap presented to the public on how we intend to keep the promise and #lightupnigeria. We need electricity at the very least from any responsible government and demand that within the month, the government gives a realistic, practical plan to solving this perennial power problem. 3. The invisible presidency of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the subsequent disrespect of the constitution show us that the power structure of the country is skewered against the interest of the people and that there is no respect for the constitution. Politicians must realise that the constitution is sacrosanct, over and above any party constitution or the agreements of any unconstitutional forum. We also demand that President Yar’Adua should resume, resign or be removed so that Nigerians know who their leaders are, and the cabal usurping the Presidency can finally be dislodged. 4. We demand electoral reform. The Uwais report has been lying between the executive and the legislature for months now, and now election timetables have been released. How can we be planning for any kind of serious minded election working with the same corrupt system that both President Yar’Adua and the international community has condemned? Whilst the Uwais Report is imperfect, it contains solid resolutions that will change our electoral landscape. We demand that all its recommendations be passed and implemented before the next elections. Nigerians aged below 35 constitute more than 70 percent of the population and we are putting you on notice that we intend to begin to use this power. This is only the first of many steps we are going to be taking to ensure that our ‘leaders’ take us seriously. We will continue to rally, to organise and to mobilise young people in an unprecedented way from now till the next elections – through voters registration, party primaries, and the general elections. Please note these: 1. We will come out to vote massively this time around, we will be watching closely and we will not leave election centres until all votes our counted. 2. Anyone who rigs elections this time around will have themselves to blame. Young people across the country – from the North to the South – will be coming out in their millions and they will strongly resist any attempt to rig. 3. We will have zero tolerance for electoral violence across the country. 4. Politicians must declare their manifesto and their clear and practical plans to solve major problems in their constituencies. ‘Ghana-must-go’ politics is over. No manifesto and no plan, no votes. We will make sure of that. 5. Young people will be mobilised to vote only those politicians who were not part of corruption, unconstitutionality and stood for integrity and clear development goals since this dispensation started. Any other person who was part of this old system will be shocked by the embarrassment we will churn out to them next year. We want a country where infrastructure work, where politicians are committed to the common good, where opportunities for its citizens are fair and possible. We grew up hearing ourselves addressed as the “leaders of tomorrow,” and now we have realised that it is time they rose to take our destinies into our hands, if we want to stand any chance of witnessing that much-touted “tomorrow.” Enough is enough. Nigerian youths say enough is enough. We have had enough! We are taking our future in our hands – and we will neither falter nor stop. This journey has just begun! God bless Nigeria .
Yours Faithfully, EnoughisEnough Coalition
Rare anger as Nigerian youths hit streets
Thousands of Nigerian youths took to the streets Tuesday in a rare display of public anger over issues ranging from infrastructure failings, fuel shortages and power blackouts that reflect growing pressure on the country’s ailing president. In a largely peaceful four-hour protest, they marched to the National Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, carrying placards and wearing T-shirts saying “Enough is Enough,” and carrying a letter outlining their demands. Organizers told CNN they were met with heavy police presence and were prevented access to the Assembly to deliver their letter. Chude Jideonwo of the Future Nigeria Group said: “The police barricaded the first gate to the Assembly, so we staged a sit-in and all of us, including some prominent Nigerians, sat on the floor before forcing our way into the assembly gates. There were around 2000 people.” Opinion: We will fight for the soul of Nigeria Nigerians, who in 2003 were voted the happiest people on Earth, rarely take to the streets in protest, despite the myriad problems the country faces.
Among their demands are calls for ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua to resign or be removed from power to end a long-standing power vacuum. He left the country in November for treatment in Saudi Arabia and since his return last month, has not been seen in public. They also voiced concerns about a lack of security in the country, which frequently sees armed robbery attacks and in recent weeks, religious massacres in the north of the country, carried out by machete-wielding militias who killed hundreds of people. Organizers of the protest, the Future Nigeria Group, say they are also demanding the 6,000 watts of power that the Nigerian government promised to provide by the end of December 2009. Many Nigerians rarely have constant power and are forced to buy generators. As for the 70 percent of Nigerians who live on less than a dollar a day and can’t afford generators, they simply live in darkness.
As an unnamed commenter put it on the whereisyaradua site: “Can you imagine surgery under torchlight?” Among those who supported Tuesday’s rally is Nigerian brand consultant Subomi Plumptre. In a video message posted on the enoughisenough site, she said: “I’m tired of a Nigeria where there’s no fuel, where there’s no light, where there’s no water and where’s there’s crappy education.” Protesters say another gripe that brought them out onto the streets is the chronic fuel shortage in the country. Despite being the sixth largest oil producer in the world, Nigeria has, for the past few months, been in the grip of a massive fuel shortage causing citizens to line up, sometimes for hours, to buy gasoline. “The youth and middle classes have been silent for years in Nigeria and now people are getting angry and saying: ‘Hello, what are you doing with our country?'” Jideonwo said. “Nigerian youth are surviving in spite of the government, but at some point you have to move away from community organizing, as Obama teaches us, to influence governmental decisions,” he added. The “Enough is Enough” rally has largely gained momentum via a well-orchestrated social media campaign, organizers said. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and blogs popular among Nigerians were key to mobilizing people to get involved, said Jideonwo. They also set up a Web site and used it to drive awareness for the campaign and connect with young people. “Without social media, we would have been unable to reach the numbers we have so far … a key part of our strategy was to move people’s anger off the blogosphere and onto the streets,” Jideonwo said. Nigerians are among the most active Internet users in the continent, according to Web site internetworldstats.com. Sixteen percent of the country’s estimated population of 150 million are active online and usage has grown over 5,000 percent since 2000, according to figures from 2009. Egypt has the highest usage for Africa, with 18 percent of its population online. “We’ve not really explored the capacity for tech in Nigeria, but we find a way to do what we need to do,” Jideonwo said. “But that’s the Nigerian spirit. “Despite the fact Internet is slow, schools don’t have Internet and people don’t have the purchasing power to buy access as much as they would like to, young people find a way to get connected,” he said. “This was an an anti-system rally,” Jideonwo said. “We’re anti a system that would even condone a man who is absent from his duty for three months.” “We, the youth of Nigeria demand that President Yar’Adua should resume or resign,” he added. Jideonwo says he firmly believes in the collective power of Nigeria’s youth to effect change because of the sheer numbers of young people in the country. Seventy percent of Nigerians are under 35, according to the CIA World Factbook Web site. “This [protest] was a defining moment,” Jideonwo said. “Something has definitely shifted among young Nigerians, people have been waiting for a long time for someone to lead them. “We’ve tasted how delicious democracy is and Nigerians have finally begun to flex their democratic muscles,” he added. “Let history record that this was the day Nigerian youth came together to take charge of their country.”
View earlier promotional footage for the Enough is Enough Nigeria Rally