Protesters storm Lagos, demand Yar'Adua's handover

THE SUN Newspaper-Razaq Bamidele, Duro Adeseko and Oluwole Farotimi

Thousands of protesters joined the mass rally in Lagos yesterday to, among other demands, push ailing President Umar Yar’Adua to immediately hand over to the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan in accordance with the 1999 Constitution.

The protesters, led by Pastor Tunde Bakare, and other members of the Save Nigeria Group, who carried placards with assorted inscriptions including: ‘Enough of Offshore President’, Go, Umaru, Go’, ‘Umaru, a voice over artist? Jibiti for BBC’, Fuel Scarcity is a shame’, ‘Why are criminals King in Nigeria’, among others, mobilized for support in major parts of Lagos and ended up at the office of the Lagos State Governor to hand over their protest letter to Governor Babatunde Fashola for delivery to the Governors’ Forum.

While presenting the letter to Fashola, Pastor Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly, flanked by Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade (retd), Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (retd), Afenifere scribe Yinka Odumakin, Comrade Osita Ikechukwu, Shettima Yerima, maverick entertainer, Charles Oputa (aka Charly Boy), Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin among others, accused Yar’Adua who is seriously ill in a Saudi Hospital of threatening the ship of the nation by vacating his position without permission and refusing to delegate responsibilities.

According to the convener of the rally and leader of the SNG, Pastor Bakare, “the ship of the country is on the high sea. The President, who is the sailor suddenly took ill and he was freighted, with the keys, to an unknown destination without our permission leaving the ship and the occupants at the mercy of the turbulent sea.

“So, it is now the case of who can swim, good luck, and who cannot swim, good luck like the name of the Vice President,” he noted, adding that, “the society is at the brink of ruin.”
It was against this backdrop, he asserted that the people have decided to say, “Enough is enough,” adding that, “Sovereignty is really in the hands of the people.”

Speaking further, the maverick preacher likened Nigeria to a vehicle with an knocked engine of which the manufacturers had closed shop, saying, what the vehicle needed was a new engine and not repairing the knocked one because its spare parts were not available in the market.
He added: “It is because a tiny cabal has decided not to allow the vehicle to get a new engine that we have decided to say, ‘enough is enough’’

Bakare further told Fashola: “We must equally express our displeasure at the public statements and posturing on this matter by the governors, either collectively or individually. Most of the statements have shown indifference to the feelings of Nigerians.’’
He accused the governors of collaboration with those sustaining the power vacuum, which suggested placing party or personal interests above the destiny of the whole nation.

“We do not want to believe that the governors are oblivious of the likely implication of the present dangerous slide that the country is taking. It would amount to short-sightedness to think that there will be ‘immunity’ for anybody if we allow this situation to boil over.”
He ended the message with a quotation from Martin Luther King Jnr., saying: “Our lives begin to end the day we keep silent about things that matter.”

The content of the letter tagged ‘Enough is Enough’ read in parts: “We, at the SNG, concede that any human can fall ill, we like our fellow compatriots are, however, piqued by the flagrant violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which, no matter how objectionable it is, has made provisions for this kind of situation. The non-compliance with the Constitution, up till this moment has heated up the polity just as it has turned Nigeria into a laughing stock in the comity of decent nations.

“The issues that bother many of our compatriots is that, if a clique would not allow a vice chosen by the president himself, and who is a member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), like he is, to exercise power temporarily, where is the hope that a victorious opposition candidate will be allowed to take over power? This clearly makes nonsense of the rule of law and the electoral reforms which are two key items on the seven-point agenda of this administration.”

While receiving the letter, Governor Fashola thanked the protesters for the peaceful manner they had conducted the rally, urging them to maintain that level of maturity.
He promised that the letter would be delivered to his colleagues and praised the protesters for standing up to be counted when an issue that mattered about the state of the nation was in contention


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