Convergence as agreed was at Cool Off by 7am. The people had come ready to occupy. The doubled number of people was evident at a glance and impressive. Several came armed with their sleeping materials. The NLC officials announced that the day’s proceedings were to start with a march around town before the eventual re-convergence at Cool Off. The protesters moved from Cool Off Park (Opposite Togo’s supermarket) to the Wurukum roundabout, and unto to Gyado Villa along the Gboko road where the people stopped for an address by various officials.
After the lecture, a u-turn was made back to the Wurukum Roundabout where there was a turn to the New Otukpo road. The road which is notably one of Makurdi’s busiest with a lot of banks was dead quiet before the arrival of the protesters and only them seemed the people about except for a few vehicles with green leaves around. The movement diverted to Ishaya Bakut road unto the Police B Division Junction along Old Otukpo road. There was a right turn to High Level Roundabout where the protesters came to a halt after more speeches.
The NLC announced that the protests would have to halt for the day and called on people to come prepared for a proper sleepout the next day by 7am at Cool Off park.
A lot of people protested against the decision of the NLC to suspend the rally for the day and called for its continuation. Most of this group marched from the High Level roundabout to the Mr. Biggs’ Roundabout to settle at the Cool Off spot where they said they would occupy till the next day.
It was noted that during the general rally, more protesters converged at the Cool Off spot with some gathering at other roundabouts around town. These people said they had decided to form separate (but not independent) groups to enhance the power of the protests. Their position was to ‘occupy’ these spots, they declared.
There was an absence of a well represented media. The NLC officials and leaders of other represented groups called the various media representatives and asked them why Benue had not been properly reported across the various channels and stations. Only two of the print media represented (one from Peoples’ Daily) could show evidence of reportage of the activities of the rally. One of the TV station reporters said it was usually difficult sending live coverage as there was an absence of a satellite to send messages directly. As such, coverage had to be done and then sent to the respective stations at the end of the day. It was at that time that editing would have to be done on the various clips before presentation. By this time, events usually overtook the reports which would lead to some of them either not being aired or not being aired adequately. Some other reporters submitted that it was the choice of their stations to air what they wanted. The NLC charged the media to shelve their excuses and report objectively all that had been happening.
Social media representatives were also advised to keep people abreast of the true events as they unfold. To this extent, certain people were also advised to come along with their laptops and modems. Talks of setting various command posts were discussed. Media strategy meetings were also held by the representatives of the various organisations so that proper reportage of events would be done.
On the whole, cars and bikes were seen on the road, and some shops were open in Makurdi, it is noteworthy that on Day 3 of the protests, far more people, bikers and cars have joined the rallies, more placards and banners have appeared with more organisations coming up to show their commitment to the cause. As it is, the protesters are asking for better governance, a reversal of pump price to N65 per litre or lower, and that the government tackle more pressing issues such as Boko Haram, security concerns, corruption and other vices.
Some groups have scheduled meetings including the Civil Society Organisations (at Woodland Park by 4pm), Association of Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Okada Riders association, Trade Union Congress and others. The plan is to plan effectively in such a way as to operate in consonance with the Nigerian Labour Congress but also have alternative plans since the NLC weren’t showing proper coordination of the whole protests. Also, some of the protesters declared that they would continue with the sleep-out at various parts of Makurdi. Not a few people are meeting to strategise on ways to make the protests stronger, with or without the NLC leadership coordination.
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