NLC RALLY: OCCUPY NIGERIA: BENUE STATE – DAY TWO

The convergence place was Labour House, Wadata. Time was 8am. The gathered protesters were addressed by the NLC leadership on the course of the action for the day. The movement was to head through the Police Headquarters Roundabout to High Level, then Modern Market (to close the market as reports had been gotten that the market was open). The protesters were to move from Modern Market to Wurukum stopping at various points for addresses and charges.
There was a noticeable presence of far more banners, posters and placards than Day One’s rallies. The first incidence of note came when the police tried to stop a certain man carrying a placard with a cartoon depiction of President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo on a pipe. The people defended him and he was let alone.
Meanwhile, except the places where the protest was active, there seemed to be no consideration of the protests in other parts of the town. Most shops were opened by early as 6 am. There were also reports that some petrol stations sold fuel very early in the morning. Black marketers of fuel were about doing their business as were water truck pushers (mai-ruwa). Buses and okada (commercial motorcycles) were all over town. Private cars also moved about in their numbers. Makurdi never looked more normal. Those who weren’t moving about their normal activities, simply took the time to stay at home and rest.
The protesters moved till they stopped at IBB Square for some briefing by various leaders represented, after which the movement continued towards Modern Market. At Makurdi International School, there was a call for a pause. The Chairman of the NLC, Simon Anchaver announced that he had sent an advance party who had just confirmed that Modern Market gates were under lock, as such there was no need to proceed. At the instructions of the NLC, there was a U-Turn with Wurukum roundabout, then Wurukum market as the next destination. Some of the protesters did not however find the detour pleasing and expressed their bitterness. The NLC apologised heavily before the movement continued. There was a stop at Katsina-ala Street for general addresses to made by leaders again.
Another incidence of note occurred just after the School lane. The NLC Chairman called for the protesters to stop at Cool Off Park (a relaxation spot opposite Togo’s Supermarket) for some water and light refreshments before proceeding. Many people considered this as a ploy to make them lose their target area and also, lose time and energy. The general protesters disagreed with his suggestion with a lot of them threatening to leave the march if the Chairman suggested something of the like again. The NLC officials grumbled that the Chairman was taking decisions they hadn’t agreed on. The movement paused at the Wurukum roundabout where more addresses were taken and revelations about government excess expenditure rendered to the people who shouted in disbelief. After the addresses, the protesters made for Cool Off park.
At the front of Mainstreet Bank (former Afri Bank), a young man driving a pick-up filled with bags of Our Choice sachet water packed as he faced the mob coming. The mob wanted to rush him and seize some of his water. The police intervened and asked the protesters to allow him. The protesters allowed the young man go, but not without several shouts. Several child hawkers were also noted around. Some police officers spoke about the insensitivity of parents and guardians who would allow children to come to such dangerous places at uncertain times like these.
At Cool Off, there were several addresses from Barrister Gbabighir who represented the Lawyers, Lady Gladys Shahu (Chair of Benue Non-Governmental Organisations – BENGONET), Engr. Isaac Bajah, ASUU, and the NLC Chairman, Comrade Simon Anchaver. All the speeches were inspiring and lovely. Barrister Gbagighir read a long speech he had written which only bored a lot of people. Lady Shaahu said the NGOs were in this mainly for the future of the children. She brought out a boy, one of many, who have been in the protests. She said that though the courage of the children was admirable, this was not the kind of future that they wanted to bequeath to children. The Chairman , Anchaver declared that the protests would continue from seven a.m the following morning at Cool Off spot. He also advised the protesters to bring along mattresses, mats and the like when coming as there was going to be a sleep out at the convergence venue. No retreat till the government looked into the case of pump price reversal. Seven groups are to be formed to man among areas in the town including the Ministry of Works Round about (High Level roundabout); Wurukum Round About, North Bank Market, and other areas with a central strategy and enforcement team at Cool Off.
The National Anthem was sang and people dispersed, anger and passion in their airs, promising to be back with fellow friends and family the next day.

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