By Anthony Ogbonna
National leader of the All Progressives Congress Party, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has told protesting Nigerians to hang on to the APC party they sold to them and endure a little longer for the promised change to arrive. Tinubu assured the protesters that the Buhari-led government which the people voted into power is not running away from the change it promised Nigerians during campaigns.
Tinubu gave the comment on Monday while addressing the protesters in Lagos.
Recall that thousands of Nigerians took to the streets to protest the unfavourable situation in the country especially the economy. The protest which was to be initially led by popular musician, 2face Idibia later saw a last minute withdrawal by 2face citing plots by hoodlums to hijack the whole process and cause mayhem.
This was equally as pressure mounted on 2face from both the presidential spokespersons, Femi adesina and Lauretta Onochie on one hand and from the Lagos state commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni who even threatened to arrest 2face should he continue with the protest.
2face however, chickened-out and called for the cancellation of the protest. But, concerned Nigerians under the banners, #OnevoiceNigeria and #IsatandwithNigeria went ahead with the protest with big and popular personalities such as Charly Boy, sheyi Law, activist, Deji Adeyanju, Saharareporters’publisher, Omoyele Sowore among so many others joining the protest.
However, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu made out time to meet some of the protesting groups from where he told them the mind of the government concerning the predicaments faced by the people under the Buhari-led administration.
He said, “What we are going through now will be resolved. We are going through a historical phase of a country that is promising and holding the promise for you. There is a leadership on the line. And you have to live with that for now. Protest won’t solve the problem, will it, he asked rhetorically.”
He said re-planning is the solution to the problem. “Being responsive, being able to get engaged with you so that you will see the problems that we are facing.” “You are right”” when you say there is a lot of unemployment in the country, epileptic power supply and series of other un-commendable developments in the country. “In every political situation, we have the twist and turn. It cannot be straight all the time. We are the same victims. You carry a placard, i have been a placard carrier since when?”
“This government is a product of a protest. If you didn’t have a bad administration then, you won’t vote for us. You voted on our promises. We are just two years into that promise compared to sixteen (16) years that they took over that they could have made the changes.”
“Yes, we are working on the electricity. Without electricity, there could be no industrialization and explosion of employment opportunities for our people. That is in our head. But, it cannot grow like the mushroom. To fetch water out of the rock, you have to endure some blisters.”
“Be patient. Lets have faith in our leaders. We’ve continued to manage Lagos, you’ve seen progress. It’s because of the consistent application of our programmes. A time started in 1998, 1999 it was a terrible situation here in Lagos. Dead body on the street, no ambulances, LASU was completely disintegrated, extremely dangerous mortuaries. What do you have today? Because you endured then. Just go and endure again.”
“We sold APC to you, please hang on to it. You have your rights to vote against us during election if you want. But, i remain in the party because we will retool this party. We will retool this government.”
“The damage of over sixty years and sixty years of miss-governance cannot be turned around overnight. Let’s be patient. Let’s have the understanding. Let’s hang on to hope. There is nothing more effective that can drive you better than hope and belief in a positive turn of this situation.”
“We understand. We are not saying you are not suffering. We are not saying unemployment has not increased. I have no argument. But, economy cannot collapse one day. Systemic problem had occurred before now. Fine! We are not running away from that responsibility, we are going to face it squarely and we are going to bring prosperity back to the country.”
The protesters who wrote down their demands that included that the salaries of public office holders like the legislatures be slashed, provision of employment opportunities, involvement of more youths in the government, review of some outrageous allocations in the 2017 budget among others handed their request to the National ruling party leader who said, “You are making sense, we will do that.”
Tinubu also said to the protesters, “It’s your right to protest. Any misgovernance, any perceived bad treatment, no one should stop you. No one, Ok? However, if you get engaged, you don’t have to suffer the burning sun. I have given you the respect that you deserve. Please, go back, calm down, hang on to hope, visit me whenever it’s necessary, the job will be available,” Tinubu said.