By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—The All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential aspirant and former Head of State, Gen.Muhammadu Buhari; APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun and Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday, led thousands of party supporters in a protest rally in Abuja, accusing the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP-led Federal Government of playing politics with Boko Haram.
The protest tagged ‘Salvation Rally’, was aimed at drawing global attention to what the opposition party described as deliberate hijack of the Nigeria police and other security agencies by the ruling PDP.
According to them, the rally was essentially a clarion call against the increased spate of insecurity, killings, corruption, and police brutality against official opposition.
They also accused President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP of gross incompetence and unprecedented display of impunity.
Others at the event which started at the Eagle Square in Abuja through to the Police headquarters, were former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; APC’s deputy national chairman, North-East, Senator Shuaibu Lawal; Senator Ali Ndume, Shaba Lafiagi and Senator Gbenga Ashafa.
Speaking at the rally, the opposition leaders took turns to lambast the Federal Government, saying that President Jonathan has failed Nigerians in all ramifications.
Our demands—APC leaders
The first to speak was Governor Amaechi who told the crowd, mainly APC supporters, that the rally would mark the end of PDP’s impunity in the country.
According to him, restoring the withdrawn security details of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and stopping the insurgency in the North-East amongst others were the demands President Jonathan must accede to.
He said: “Today will mark the beginning of our resistance to the President’s attempt at owning the Nigeria Police and keeping the military in his pocket. They are either the Nigeria Police or Goodluck Jonathan’s Police. They must choose one from today. Today, all of us must decide as a nation whether we will allow the President to continue to disobey court orders. The court has said that he should give back the Speaker his security details, and the President has disobeyed.
“Today, the President must tell us why our brothers and sisters are dying in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states and they are here enjoying in Abuja. The President must answer that; why is he comfortable and Nigerians are dying. Today, the insult of what they called stomach democracy must stop. This stomach infrastructure must stop.
“Today is the choice to stop the President from defeating our interest to be Nigerians, the interest to become responsible for our own lives and choose their president. Today, the President must tell us why he stopped INEC from distributing the polling units on population basis. Today, the President must tell us whether he is our president, regional president or an ethnic president.
“It is your choice to make. I am a governor but I am also a citizen. I think as citizens of Nigeria, today is the beginning for a struggle for democracy. You know we don’t have democracy any more in Nigeria. What we have in Nigeria now is diarchy. Diarchy is a government headed by a civilian but under the support of the military. Today the President sits with the military against you and I. Today, we are told that the military will take over our elections. We must stop them today. It is your choice to make.”
Vote out PDP in 2015 — Buhari
Also speaking, former Head of State, Gen. Buhari asked the people to vote the PDP out of power next year.
“The aim of this rally has already been explained by the chairman, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Amaechi and the subsequent speakers have already explained why we are here. This is supposed to be part of the series of activities that the APC has lined up between now up to the general elections in 2015.
“We started here in Abuja because this is the federal capital. It belongs to all Nigerians. It is placed in the centre of the country. These activities will be conducted in the states and then it will continue until we go to general elections.
“Our concern is the lack of performance of the Federal Government. I will like those of you that have the time and the capacity to reflect on what the PDP has done to this country from 1999 to date. Try and find out what was the state of infrastructure in 1999, what it is now and what we have earned between then and now. It is then it will dawn on you how corrupt, inefficient and indisciplined the PDP is.
“The PDP cannot run from responsibility. They cannot escape from the position they put Nigeria. Now, we are in extremely very bad shape. This country is insecure. This country is getting bankrupt and it is merely because of corruption and incompetence. APC is out to make sure that we stop lousy system by voting PDP out. Vote out the PDP next year. If you want a secure and efficient Nigeria, you just have to do that. No alternative. Make sure you get your permanent voters cards.”
Say no to impunity — Odigie-Oyegun, Gbajabiamila
Cataloguing what he described as the “sins” of the PDP-led government, the national chairman of APC, Oyegun said:
“Now, let us be clear. What exactly are we asking for? An end to the raging insurgency that is daily killing and maiming our compatriots. An end to the impunity that permeates the Jonathan administration. An end to the massive corruption that has left our compatriots impoverished in the midst of plenty. An unambiguous effort to ensure that 2015 elections will be free and fair.”
He continued: “What you are seeing here today, which is the first stage of the occupation of Abuja, is just a warning shot. If we do not see any discernible change of attitude on the part of the government, then we will move to the next stage on the list of actions that our party intends to take to stop the rot being perpetuated by the PDP-led Federal Government. We are therefore using this opportunity to alert Nigerians and the international community to what is undoubtedly a set of carefully-set booby traps on the path to free and fair elections next year.
On a similar note, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila also lamented what he called the regime of impunity in Nigeria, saying that time has come for change.
“This rally has been tagged salvation rally. There is a reason to that and you all right here are part of the salvation army.”
FG frustrating elections, security — Onu
Former national chairman of ANPP, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu in his contribution chided the PDP-led government, saying its polices in the last 16 years it has held power was to frustrate the conduct of free and fair elections.
“Today is a very unique and important day in the history of our country. The APC is tired about the way Nigeria has been run in the past 16 years. There is need for change for the sake of our children.
“If Ghana can organise free and fair elections, Nigeria should. If Senagal can organize free and fair elections, Nigeria can. If Zambia can organise free and fair elections, Nigeria must.
“Today, APC is calling on Nigerians to make it mandatory on the ruling party that the general elections of 2015 must be free and fair. We are tired of the execuses they are giving about the insurgency in the North-East. For too long, they told us that they couldn’t act because Boko Haram was merely striking and going back into the bush. Now, the insurgents are coming out, over-running our cities and they control our cities. What has made news in Nigeria recently is not our cities falling under the control of Boko Haram but that hunters are liberating towns of Nigeria.
“This is a great embarrassment to the nation. This puts our military that we know are capable, who have distinguished themselves in military expeditions all over the world, peace keeping and so on, we know that the military is capable but we know that there is a voice behind that is making it difficult for them to act. For the sake of Nigeria, let us make sure that the interest of Nigeria is put first in everything.”
Protest taken to police headquarters
Meanwhile, the rally later sprawled outside the perimetres of the Eagles Square to the city with most supporters of the party carrying different placards which read “looters of treasury; friends of Jonathan; “Leave military out of elections”, “we are crying for our Chibok girls, Malabu oil scandal, police pension heist and $20b missing oil money, kerosene subsidy scandal, private jet scandal”.
Outside visiting a junction close to Transcorp Hilton Hotel, the protesters also went to the headquarters of the Nigerian police to register their concern.
But the authorities barred them from accessing the office of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP.
This consequently prompted the deployment of more police officers within and around the venue of the event, even as a police helicopter hovered above.