Monday 28 August 2017

EXCLUSIVE: How we planned the #ResumeOrResign Protest - Top member, Charly Boy's group exposes

The #ResumeOrResign protest was spare-headed by entertainer, Charly Boy, in a bid to call home President Buhari while he was on medical leave abroad. In a statement sent exclusively to Absolute Hearts Blog, a top member and Charly Boy's front hand man during the protest, reveals how exactly the protest was planned and how people were mobilized for the protest. Read below:

It was during the call for a rally against austerity measures by Tuface (2baba) earlier this year in conjunction with Enough Is Enough (EIE) that I met Area Fada (Charly Boy). We all know that the country was facing great financial crunch at the moment, a quick reminder - two years ago, President Buhari became the first challenger to unseat an incumbent president in Nigeria's history and was sworn-in amid great hope and enormous good will.

Following his inauguration, the country was awash with optimism that his government would reignite a fading economy, perhaps by replicating the relatively successful Lagos-APC model. More pertinently, President Buhari would lay the foundation for a long overdue implementation of fiscal federalism and further diversify the national economy, as promised in the APC manifesto. 

That President Buhari inherited a frail economy is not in doubt. Despite Nigeria's economy growing by over 6% in 2014, economic growth slowed to just under 3% by 2015 – the slowest pace in the democratic era. Prior to President Buhari's inauguration, the economic headwinds were apparent, especially in Nigeria's banking system, as a result of the crash in global crude oil prices in the summer of 2014.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) devalued the Naira thrice. The combination of the oil price slump and gross maladministration of previous regimes left the economy on tenterhooks by the time President Buhari took charge. Still, Nigerians remained hopeful that the bringer of change would get to work straight away in stabilizing the economy while plotting for the future. On this account, Nigerians were wrong.

By not having a full cabinet until 166 days after his inauguration, the President allowed the management of the nation's economy to be virtually put on hold for six months during which uncertainty prevailed, thus accelerating capital flight and weakening confidence. By the time the administration started showing some semblance of activity late in 2015, the economy was already in tatters, heading for its first annual recession since 1991.

These were the general issues we all saw and felt, for me; international online payments were suspended, this was the backbone of my business as I run a strictly online marketing process for my business. Those I buy raw materials from were stranded too, they could not buy dollars to import the materials to Aba to be bought and redistributed to the areas like Lagos where I am based.

Long story short! I met Fada (Charly Boy) at the rally ground and we latter matched to the National Theatre Iganmu Lagos. Present that day was Seyi Law and some members of EIE. That was my 4th outing for demonstrations against bad governance and policies of institutions in Nigeria. First 2 were for the freedom of religious expression and against the molestation and discrimination of Secondary school pupils by some school heads in Lagos for wearing Hijabs (a religious scarf of the Muslims). We later won the case in court.

The second time I met with Area Fada was also on the streets, on protest ground and against same thing, bad governance and this economic hardship, this time the rally was called by NLC,  we all met at Yaba House of the union and matched to Gani Fawehinmi park after the union members chose to go to Alausa. Those of us who were not cool with the same thing took our protest to that park as against the government officials who would just lie to us again.

So all our meeting were just kind of divinely ordained. Aside loving his show as I grew up as a kid, yet 'hating' his personality or better put, not understanding his personality, We met on grounds where we both shared believes and huge interests, whew! all the 'hatred' diffused.

Until I was invited for a like minds' meeting to discuss the state of the nation, how youths can be better responsible citizens and partakers in the polity, I met him twice again on business grounds -the call came in from no where via referrals to make some collections for him because I run a fashion and branding business in Lagos.

Fast forward, we were introduced to the OUR MUMU DON DO ideals where the core values of the organization met mine. I was invited for other meetings and the plan to roll out chapters in every state was set. We were successful in Imo and Benue, those were our first moves. Although calls were already huge from all over the country, especially the north on how they have suffered majorly from their leaders. We told them to exercise some patience that we would be with them soon, to set up their chapter and see how our developmental programmes can reel out to them.

Do Nigerians even know Area Fada get calls from about 500 people in a week?
I mean people who are just unhappy with the government on issues like bad roads, electricity poles, even on water! Fada would just calm them down and see if he could reach those in power and influence something. Even if it's for the politicians to address the situation and calm its people down.

Plans were completed to go set up Benue chapter and to have some meetings in Abuja. Some of us went to Benue, others joined us at Abuja. I was not even scheduled to be at Abuja because I had a speaking/training engagement scheduled for Lagos with the Students Union Government and Junior Chamber International Lagos State Polytechnic on a Life After School Programme for graduands. The speaking engagement was cancelled and I was free to be at the meeting planned for Abuja, all thanks to Accademic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) who went on strike.

We got to Abuja and all the callers from the north were already booking meetings with us. They were so bitter, graduates yet jobless, those who walk around with CV, one even came to Abuja all the way from the east with only 2 shirts and 2 trousers, sleeps in a friend's sister's place. Gosh! Issues were abound, they were always glad Fada gave them hope that things would change for the better. 

Everywhere we turned we were faced by people who needed help, we were so chocked up that we also started being scared of our safety. We planned to change our meeting venue, this was even for the masses who needed someone high there to reach.

So we asked, how do we make the government hear the plight of these people?, with the looming wars all around the country, how do make those in power know that facing economic and security issues at a time without solutions would blow up the country into crums. People kept wanting to be active in nation building, even if it's to have somewhere to discuss the problems at first, they pleaded, Fada was their shoulder which they laid on.

Other organizations also came to align with us but after several scrutiny we chose those we could walk with at that time. All our doings were very calculated and were sensitive, looking at our non aligned ideologies. Then we sat for days, weighing the options of challenging a government that brought hope for the nation which however, has not materialized. 

We concluded, we must not let the government feel words were enough to calm people, well for real, we were always being lied to. So we need let the government know that when hunger reaches a level, people would revolt. Magically, 3 organizations fused to one and we chose the most SENSITIVE of all issues to use as a rider for our yearnings #ResumeOrResign. It was complex yet simple, huge yet small, soft yet hard at the same time.

We only wanted to sit everyday under a tree, just 10 people to only call attention of our leaders to our plight. After the day-one jamboree, the government 'of the people' nearly killed us. How would you bring above 100 mopols with guns for 7 people, 20 police dogs, water canon which is twice the size of 1 armour tank and tear gas for 7 people... s-e-v-e-n of us o.

That blew up everything. They gave us the world wide recognition we did not even plan for. Our strategy was simple, sit everyday till Buhari returns and maybe in a month's time, we would then be recognized to be addressed and maybe the Acting President would further appeal to citizens to hold tight onto the rope of hope APC sold to us, but over-night, they made us a national issue for a straight 2 weeks. What we planned to achieve in a month, they gave to us in 2 days.

Then moral issues against the government came up; election promises, EFCC convictions, 'draconian' military past of Buhari, health issue of Yaradua etc.
They then left the major issues of economic and security hardships at the back burner. However we on the ground daily emphasised frustration, hunger, anger that was in the land and the greater need for peace.

Many wonder how and why a businessman like me found himself in the midst of a 'war', it was sheer love for the common man, passion for the country and concern for our dear president whom I 'fought' people and canvassed for to win elections in 2015.

I am just a simple normal citizen like you, who has families, friends, hopes and aspirations. I just don't feel good seeing the beggars in Lagos, or meeting my colleagues who still earn 30,000 Naira after 6 years of graduation, or when clients tell me they can't buy because the economy bites. I have 10 staff with at most  4 dependants each. A lot is also on my shoulders. I am not yet rich, I may be comfortable reasonably and sure I can never be poor, rather be momentarily broke, but what holds for my fellow man who is a result of a failed Nigerian system? The wheelbarrow pusher, the jobless, the political tug, the ritualist, the under-employed... oh God!

When eventually people laced our protest with politics between APC and PDP, also Ethnicity of Igbo and Hausa... I just laugh.

Almost all of us in OUR MUMU DON DO were instrumental for the APC government to be in power in 2015.

So if anyone want to call us names, call us heros, patriots and countrymen. 

Join us in the awakening of the masses to be conscious, responsible and active citizens.

Tella Temitayo is an Idea Machine and Development Junkie. He makes people, projects, businesses and communities better.

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