By Luminous Jannamike
During an encounter with maverick entertainer, Charles Oputa popularly known as Charly Boy; the discussion centred on his quest to radically change the political landscape in Nigeria by encouraging young citizens to choose political participation at the expense of political apathy.
Oputa, who is also the leader of “Our Mumu Don Do” movement, has on several occasions been tortured by the Nigerian police and the military for standing up to Nigeria’s government. However he is also regarded as the friend of the federal government, depending on the sensibility of those in power.
With over 40 years experience in civil advocacy, Charly Boy gives insight into the civic campaigns he powered through the “Our Mumu Don Do” – a clause which literally means in pidgin which means “Our stupidity is enough” Read excerpts below:
Our Mumu Don Do is a movement that tries to reemphasizes the need for the people to wake up from their slumber and begin to act as the instruments of change to sanitize and contribute to the development of the country. It is a national reawakening social effort dedicated to promoting social justice, accountability, transparency, good governance, and engendering a new social order in Nigeria through sustained activism and a formidable coalition.
The movement is a coalition of all angry, vexed, and frustrated Nigerians who are committed to bringing about a Nigeria that works for everyone in a non-violent manner. Starting from the grassroots to the highest political echelon in the nation, the movement aims to revolutionize politics by ending elite conspiracy and giving power to the rightful owners – the people. We believe the solution to the myriads of problems bedeviling Nigeria is to democratize politics. We are a staunch advocate of popular democracy, a democracy of the multitude asking questions and electing people who share their views and experiences. The movement was officially launched in March 2017.
The inspiration to start the OurMumuDonDo Movement came after a 3 days OccupyNASS protest which held at the front of the National Assembly, in Abuja, primarily to demand transparency and accountability in the day-to-day affairs of the legislative chambers. The 3-day protest was led by a former co-convener of the OurMumuDonDo Movement, Retson Tedheke.
After the OccupyNASS demonstration, a meeting was held in Lagos, precisely December 13 2016, where people from different walks of life gathered at my abode to discuss the debilitating state of things in the country and how we can rise to the occasion to salvage the nation before it becomes too late to do so. I recall that at the meeting was me, Retson Tedheke, Adebayo Raphael, Kemi Olunloyo, Okufuwa Samad, and a couple others. It was during our deliberation that day that we came up with the phrase ‘OurMumuDonDo’. No one had a problem with the name at the meeting. And this is so because the slogan ‘Our Mumu Don Do’, is not only catchy, but it resonates with every Nigerian regardless of where you belong in the society. It resonates with the rich, and even more with the downtrodden and suffering masses in our country.
Nigeria skewed to favour the rich
If you look at the way our society is structured, there are just two classes of people; the rich and the poor. Our society favors the rich all the time while it continually disfavors the poor. This kind of society cannot be sustained for too long and that is why we are saying our docility and indifference as a people is enough. We decided that it would be better for someone like CharlyBoy who is well known as a social activist and a youth advocate to lead the movement and provide guidance and mentorship for the mostly youth membership of the movement so that our mistakes are limited and our impact, boundless. And so far, I can tell you it has been a wise decision.
Mental, ballot revolution is needed
Nigerian needs mental and ballot Revolution. Mental Revolution in the sense that, we believe, it is high time all Nigerians started to embrace political participation over political apathy. We are saying that the Nigerian people must rise above ethnic, religious, and political divides to fight for the common good of everyone. For too long, we have been divided by petty sentiments and this division has brought monumental suffering upon the people. Our simple message to the Nigerian people is that; except we are united, both rich and poor, to fight against the ills of our society, we are never going to develop as a nation.
As for Ballot Revolution, what we are simply propagating is for our people to understand that our docility has enabled corruption and impunity in governance. And if we want to develop as a nation; if we want a Nigeria that works for everyone, we must all get involved in the political process. Our vision as a movement is to fight for a Nigeria where everyone, whether rich or poor, can boast of freedom, equality, and prosperity. And our mission, fundamentally, is to mobilize the people, harness their intellectual, artistic, and cultural resources, and network them into a political movement to fight back, defeat political elitism, corruption and incompetence and redirect governance towards empowerment, dignity, and freedom for the people. We are taking Nigeria back. We are making Nigeria work for us, all of us.
Millenials can take Nigeria out of current quagmire
I must say we are particularly interested in the millennials. This is primarily because the population of the youths in Nigeria constitutes more than half the whole population of the country. Hence, it is paramount that we give principal importance to this divide of the population which we strongly believe to be the present and future of Nigeria.
Historically, Nigerian youths have proven to be extremely invaluable to the process of national development, and that is why we believe that we must breathe life into our history by giving power to the youths who have the mental, physical, and social capacity to take our nation out of her current state of quadmire to a place where the people would be proud to identify with her and also sacrifice for her.
Let me quickly chip this in that I am under no illusion or doubt that we can encourage many young selfless visionary leaders who are either being intimidated by the preponderant hegemony of the existing political forces or simply in hiding out of fear for their lives to begin to come out and represent their people.
We have kept Buhari on his toes
It all started with the Topless March we organized in Lagos on June 12, 2017, to protest the harsh economic conditions in which the Nigerian people were subjected to living in as a result of bad governance. Before the Topless March, however, we took part in the #IstandWIthNigeria nationwide rally against harsh economic conditions and inefficient governance.
Thereafter, in reaction to the prolonged absence of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, from the country treating an undisclosed ailment in the United Kingdom for more than 90days, the movement decided to embark on a campaign tagged ‘Resume or Resign’, urging the president to either return to the country or resign his position so the country can progress. The campaign lasted for eleven days in Nigeria, two days in the United Kingdom, and one day in New York.
In Nigeria, the eleven days action was not a rosy affair at all. As a matter of fact, the less than 12 people who participated in the campaign were on three different occasions attacked by a couplet of government security agents namely the police and the army; and the hired crowds and thugs. On the ninth day of the daily sit-outs, activists of the group were attacked at Wuse Market, in Abuja, by hired thugs who were bent on lynching them for embarking on this daring national reawakening campaign. Many were terribly injured. It was a horrible experience.
Nonetheless, the campaign continued and on the eleventh day, it was suspended in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The campaign resumed in London two days after its suspension in Abuja forcing the president to return home barely 24hours after it began. Although the price that was paid by members of the movement was steep, the campaign remains a major feat for the movement and indeed the Nigerian people who are endlessly clamoring for effective and accountable leadership.
Following the Resume or Resign campaign, we embarked on an anti-corruption campaign in an effort to support the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s fight against corruption. The movement considered it imperative to demand the prosecution of alleged corrupt government officials. Hence, the ‘Bring Back Diezani’ campaign. The campaign was basically aimed at nudging the government to request the extradition of former minister of petroleum of Nigeria, Diezani Alison-Madueke for the weighty allegations of corruption leveled against her. And for three days, activists of the movement held sit-outs at the EFCC Headquarters in Abuja. Although the EFCC promised to expedite the process of extraditing the former minister, the United Kingdom has made it clear to the movement that the Nigerian government has not sent any request to that effect.
In addition, the movement embarked on a campaign tagged ‘Buhari Act or Quit’ in October 2017 after realizing that corruption had become a legal tender under the president Buhari-led administration. Basically, we were triggered by the monumental presence of corruption in president Buhari’s government.
Now, for the records, it is noteworthy to state that under president Buhari’s administration, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was alleged to have received 120billion Naira in bribes from oil companies and others. In the same vein, the General Managing Director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru, was alleged of awarding contracts worth $26Billion without following due process thereby leaving many questions unanswered. Also, the $43m found in the Osborne Apartments, allegedly stolen and hidden by the suspended Director of the National Intelligence Agency, Mr. Ayo Oke; and the diversion of the N270 million meant for IDPs to allegedly cut grass by the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, among others.
Hence, it was crucial for us to demand answers to these disparate allegations of corruption and also demand accountability, transparency, and appropriate prosecution of defaulters by the president as he promised during his campaign. About one week into the campaign, the FG finally sacked Babachir Lawal and Ayo Oke. Although late, we expressed a cautious commendation and demanded that the Federal Government ensures the prosecution of both Ayo Oke and Babachir Lawal.
Two weeks after we started our daily sit-outs at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, we decided to write to the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, based on the FOI-ACT, demanding answers to the different corruption allegations against top government officials. As we speak, no response has come from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. But further actions are currently being considered by the movement to ensure government provides answers to these allegations of corruption against top government officials.
Also, in November 2017, we were all taken aback by the preposterous reports of Africans being sold as slaves in Libya. Not only were they sold as slaves but they were abused, starved, mutilated, and dehumanized. According to reports, there were 150,000 Africans and about 40,000 Nigerians in different detention camps in Libya. Propelled by the enormity of this barbaric development, the movement embarked on the #EndSlaveTrade Campaign to nudge the Federal Government of Nigeria to initiate a well-coordinated government action to repatriate every single Nigerian trapped in Libya’s detention camps.
After two days of vehement outcry by our group, one at the Libyan Embassy in Nigeria and the other at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Abuja, the Nigerian Charge D’Affaire to Libya, Ambassador Iliya Danladi Fachano, promised us that no less than 250 Nigerians would be repatriated daily from Libya from that day onward.
Then, early in December, the stark disregard for Human Rights, abuse of Human Rights, highhandedness, impunity, brutality and extrajudicial execution being perpetrated by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force finally reached an alarming crescendo after a video of a Nigerian who was shot dead by operatives of the SARS unit went viral on the internet. Appalled by the exasperating silence of the Nigeria Police Force on this brutal incident and many other such incidents reported by victims, friends and family members of victims of SARS extortion, torture, and murder; we decided to embark on the ‘EndSARS’ and ‘ReformPoliceNG’ campaign in collaboration with the initial convener of the campaign, Segun Awosanya a.k.a. Sega, and many Civil Society Organizations, to ensure that the anger of Nigerians towards the failed unit of the Force and indeed the entire Force, is properly channeled to command results in their favor.
Interestingly, Nigerians, mostly youths, came out en-masse in different states in the country on Monday, December 11, 2017, to vent their anger and vociferously demand, in commemoration of World’s Human Rights Day, the immediate scrapping of SARS and a no-holds-barred reform of the Nigeria Police Force. It is important to note that the rally was concluded with a 21-day ultimatum from the protesters to the NPF, with a very strong statement that failure to scrap SARS after the said ultimatum elapses may precipitate an unprecedented reaction from Nigerians.
And as we speak, plans are already in motion to intensify the campaign. Important to note, though, that investigative journalists of the BBC are already here in Nigeria to work with us and record the gruesome experiences of victims first-hand.
I can’t be sponsored by shady characters
Firstly, I would like to say that there is no such thing as sponsorship in our movement and I make bold to say I would rather retire to Oguta, my village, and not have this movement at all than be sponsored by people of shady and unhealthy characters behind-the-scenes.
Remember that the OurMumuDonDo Movement is not the first social movement to emerge in this country. Only that many movements died as a result of compromise and because they allowed their movement to be hijacked by political jobbers. You see this movement is not just about us, it is also about the generation coming after us.
Secondly, I would like to say we are not surprised that such people insinuate all sorts of things. And this is because we know that there are people out there who feel threatened by what we are doing. They know that this is the movement that would rescue our people from the mental and political slavery in which they have existed for too long, and because of that, they are devoted to unjust mudslinging and concocted fairy-tales that would never be close to who we are or what we are about. However, we are never going to give in to such distractions and talebearing. We are focused on our goal which is to end elite conspiracy, popularize, democratize, and idealize politics, such that, both the electorates and political candidates would no longer see political positions as an opportunity to empower stomach infrastucture, but rather, on one hand, as an opportunity for the electorates to genuinely ask questions and vote for people who share and understand the views and predicament of the people, and on the other hand, for political candidates to selflessly vie for political positions as a place to genuinely serve the people and not oppress them.
What we want from government
I must say. 2018 is a campaign year for the politicians, and as you may know, politicians have started their usual gimmicks of promoting transactional politics to get the suffering peoples in the country to vote for them. As for the movement, we would be focused on massive voters education and senstization of the Nigerian people. We would be focused on ending the ‘stomach-infrastructure’ currently plaguing our political terrain. What we want from the government is a political terrain that is primarily driven by a pro-people ideology and selflessness.