Posted in LIFE, POL TALKS

NLC RALLY: OCCUPY NIGERIA: BENUE STATE – DAY FIVE

Not a few people had to just wonder: ‘Day Five?’ We are out on the streets once more?
Well, yes. Against the hopes of the people of Benue, the protests moved on to Day Five.
On Day Five, Comrade Simon Anchaver assumed the unofficial office ‘Governor for the Day’ and was given the right to pick Commissioners and Special Assistants to help him in executing his office in the protests. Something he did all through. The highlights of the event included a performance by some musicians in front of the Modern Market. They said that the musicians in Benue were against the pains inflicted on the people by the Federal Government and had decided to officially join the protests. Another high point was at Wadata where the protesters were hailed as heroes by the people. A large number of protesters also joined the ranks from Wadata. Of interest was when the protesters wanted to move to the heavily guarded Government House. It was a day when determination, strength and passion were seen in the eyes and movements of the people. Disappointment however also hung in the air at a government that would allow such protests to go on.
The people poured out to the High Level Roundabout by 8am. Like other days, there was the usual morning charges and also, a noticeable increase in number. The protesters occupied the streets moving slowly to David Mark Bye-Pass and unto the Modern Market. There was a pause for comments and addresses at the market. The leaders of various organisations and associations represented addressed. The traders of Modern Market represented expressed their support of the strikes and said they would continue to remain shut until the strike was over. They further said that they would keep coming in their numbers to add to the strength of the protests. At this point, some musicians took the floor and performed exciting the protesters with several gospel songs.
The movement continued to Demekpe where there was a stop at the NKST church. More leaders addressed the people before the movement continued to Wadata where a large number of people were waiting for the protesters. The ward which comprises mainly Hausa people had a number that doubled the number of protesters already represented. Several people also came out from their houses, while some climbed high places to cheer the protesters. The Wadata market had some activity with lots of people present. The Trade Union Congress went to ensure there wasn’t any commercial activity going on and assured that it was thus, they came back to join the protesters.
The protesters moved on to the Federal Medical Centre, passing the Central Mosque in Wadata. There was a stop at the Federal Medical Centre. There was a heavy presence of soldiers at the gates of the Centre. The NLC called on Hausa leaders from the Wadata ward who were co-opted into the leadership as ‘special assistants.’ They spoke to the people in Hausa and got thunderous ovation from the crowd. There were shouts of ‘Main naira sitin da biyar’ (fuel for sixty-five naira) in the air. The Sarkin Wadata called on the Christians to join them in their worship through the day, and promised that the Muslims would reciprocate the gesture by worshiping with the Christians in their churches on Sunday. This was greeted with more ovations. He called for unity of everyone in the hope of moving Nigeria forward.
After some more addresses, the protesters moved down passing the Holy Ghost Parish, Haf Heaven and Jackies Hotels. The next junction was to be at Tito eatery. Directly in sight was the road to the Government House; most of the protesters moved in its direction. By this time, there was heavy police and civil defence presence ahead with security vehicles barring the way. The police served as human barricade to the protesters. The Labour leaders called on the people to move right towards Royal Choice Inn. This met with some grudges and words of anger. A number of the protesters said they wanted to go to the Government House by all means. After some more persuasion, they listened to the reasoning of the Labour leadership.
There was a pause in front of Royal Choice Inn where there were some more addresses. The leaders apologised for the misunderstanding that had just occurred and said that the Government House route had not been marked for ‘occupation’ and as such, there was a need to stick to the original plan. They however assured the people that it would definitely be put into further plans on other days. The explanation did not sit well with the protesters but they let it pass. Some of them whispered that the NLC were simply afraid while others argued that the Chairman, Simon Anchaver was in the pay of the state government and therefore was looking out for the interest of his principals. Some others yet again argued that it was a good thing as a visit to the Government House might have sparked violence since the Governor was not exactly the people’s man. Others cited the case of Niger state and said it had been wise not to go to the Government House.
The movement continued passing the banks on Ogiri Oko road, the Mobile Police Headquarters and Police Headquarters. Choruses of ‘Or seer fuel ya naan dzua a i ve’ (Tiv for ‘The person who has increased fuel has gotten into trouble’ filled the air with a solo shouting ‘Kunya kwa’ (TIv for ‘A shameful thing’). The protesters eventually stopped at Tito eatery.
Mrs. Josephine Habba, a Childs’ Right Coordinator organised children who had been in the march to come together. She asked them if they could recite the National Pledge. ‘Yes!!’ they shouted and went ahead to sing the National Anthem to the humour and laughter of the protesters who joined in the rendition. Mrs. Habba asked them if they wanted to go back to school and they shouted ‘Yes!!’ She asked them why they were in the march. To the surprise of several people, most shouted ‘N65 per litre!!’ Other children shouted ‘To go to school!!’ The media captured the message well. Mrs. Habba said she hoped that the message would be carried by Simon Anchaver to Abuja. A Barrister, Justin Gbakighir took over and spoke to the people, calling on them to be courageous.
Simon Anchaver, the NLC Chairman in Benue and self declared Governor for the day, praised the people for their courage and asked them not to relent in their efforts. He said that he was on his way to Abuja for a meeting with the National leadership of the NLC. He said that Plan A of the protests had been exhausted and that if things didn’t change, by Monday, the people would come out half dressed with most of the men coming out in briefs or boxers to show the shame the government was putting the Nigerian citizenry in. Convergence time was to be 7am at the High Level roundabout. In the interim, the people were free to go and recharge through the weekend for a proper plan B.

At Wadata
Coming down the streets

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Some all-rounded writer with the wits to turn anything and everything to words with inspiration... cheering to glory and on...

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