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Democracy Day: Eminent citizens, elder statesmen chart way forward

Democracy Day

By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Olasunkanmi Akoni, John Alechenu, Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo, Shina Abubakar, Luminous Jannamike & Efe Onodjae, LAGOS.

AS Nigeria marked Democracy Day, yesterday, a host of eminent Nigerians and groups proffered solutions to the country’s raging socioeconomic challenges, as protests broke out in Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and Osun.

Those who spoke were united on the need to tackle poverty, insecurity, corruption and poor amenities among others, but they were not unanimous on how to do so.

Among those who spoke yesterday were former Commonwealth Secretary General and Chairman of The Patriots, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; former Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Ike Nwachukwu; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah Aare-Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams; President of Women Arise Initiative, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin; Professor Olufemi Obayori, Labour Party Presidential Candidate in the 2023 poll, Mr Peter Obi; and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, among others.

Obi said democracy has suffered state capture.

Protest against hardship in Lagos

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Lagos, demanding an end to the economic hardship and hunger ravaging the country, as part of activities to mark Democracy Day. The protesters, mostly youths, carried placards and banners with inscriptions such as “We are hungry”, “End poverty now”, and “Government, do something.”

A coalition of Nigerian Civil Societies, including the Take-It-Back Movement, TIB; Joint Action Force, JAF; Education Rights Campaign, ERC; Community Women Initiative, and Socialist Workers and Youth League, SWL, led the protest. The protesters, who took to the bridge, in Ikeja blocked it, depriving motorists of passage, as a way to express their grievances over the present economic state.

The presence of armed policemen led by the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, CP Adegoke Fayoade, did not deter them as they chanted solidarity songs.

Speaking with Vanguard, the National Coordinator of ERC, Hassan Soweto, said: “We came out this morning as hungry Nigerians, who are fed up with the condition of hardship that the current administration has brought to the country.

“It’s been one year of pain and hunger as a direct product of the anti-poor policies of the government. They removed fuel subsidies, devalued the naira, and increased electricity tariffs. The combination of all of these policies is why we are protesting. We are here today to say enough of these hardships.”

On his part, the National Mobiliser of Joint Action Force, Peluola Adewale, said the reason for their protest was “because silence is no longer an option. This is one of the many actions and protests we will take to let President Bola Tinubu know we are hungry. We can’t remain at home and expect change. That’s why we are protesting.”

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