Amidst threats of violence, and the Lagos and Abuja state governments’ lack of assurance that they would provide security to protect protesters at the much-publicized protests of February 6, 2017, in Abuja and Lagos, 2Face made the right call to cancel his planned protests.
As you all know by now, Nigerian/African music icon Innocent Ujah Idibia popularly known as 2Face made a call to his fellow Nigerians to join him for a peaceful march/protest on the aforementioned date protesting against the Nigerian government. The reaction to his call was evenly split with half of the population seeming to support him and the other opposing him. Of equal significance was the promised threats of violence against protesters, and the Lagos and Abuja state governments disagreeing to provide the necessary security for the march, or urging him to cancel the protest because of the promise of violence from “hoodlums.” Late last week, after the federal government said it did not oppose the protest, the Lagos state government flipped scripts and said it would provide security. Their assurance remains weak, at best. In the meantime, threats of violence continue. Accordingly, today, 2Face canceled his planned protests.
“The point I’m intent on making is not worth the life of any Nigerian,” said 2Face in a candid video to the public explaining why he was canceling the planned protests.
In reaction to his cancellation, many have heaped insults on him (not surprising), called him “weak,” likened him to Fela but point out Fela was physically tortured and willing to die for the cause, yet 2Face “folds” under the pressure of the law enforcement, and threats of violence.
First, 2Face is not “weak.” He is smart, has a conscience and cares deeply. 2Face has done all he needs to do for this protest: set a goal for a protest, announced location and date, publicized it, among other things. The two things that are lacking and that he has no control over are: 1) getting state and city officials to do their job so that the protest goes without bloodshed, and 2) ensuring the protest, from the start, is, in fact, peaceful.
In my view, if you are a protest organizer and are forewarned that there will be bloodshed, lack of security, planned vandalism of private and public property, and pandemonium over your planned peaceful protest, and everything points to that fact, then you should withdraw. Why? Because while you may lose your life and are willing to, the blood of those whose lives will be senselessly lost because of that lack of security will forever be on your hands and that of your family. It would be reckless and downright selfish for 2Face to continue with this protest without the clear assurance of security. We know that both the Lagos and Abuja state governments have claimed and continue to claim they have received clear promises of violence and they too advised cancellation. If this law enforcement bodies are so reluctant to protect the public, why would 2Face jeopardize the safety of the public when that is not his intent? 2Face never said civil disobedience is part of his protest strategy. He in fact called for a PEACEFUL protest. Therefore, anything to the contrary, he can and should cancel.
This, to me, is different from if you already made clear the kind of protest you will engage and want to engage in is one with a strategy involving civil disobedience. In that case, then yes. Aluta continua (the struggle continues) and you should move forward with your protest because everyone has notice of your intent and the kind of protest you are organizing. People should know they can be arrested and what to do in case they are arrested. People should know there may be violence and what to do if they are violently attacked, and the list goes on.
Absent such clear intent to organize a protest involving civil disobedience as a strategy, it would be, in my view, very reckless and downright selfish for 2Face to continue with this protest without the clear assurance of security. We know that both the Lagos and Abuja state governments have claimed and continue to claim they have received clear promises of violence and they too advised cancellation. If this law enforcement bodies are so reluctant to protect the public, why would 2Face jeopardize the safety of the public when that is not his intent? 2Face never said civil disobedience is part of his protest strategy. He in fact called for a PEACEFUL protest. Therefore, anything to the contrary, he can and should cancel.
Second, for those truly interested in peacefully protesting and that are the least concerned about security, they are welcome to carry on and protest tomorrow. In fact, I think a protest might be successful now that 2Face’s name is not involved and the celebrity part is removed from the equation. If it is successful, at a minimum 2Face gets credit for using his celebrity status to help propel and amplify the agenda of the actual persons and groups who were organizing this in the first place.
Third, to compare 2Face to Fela is ridiculous. There is no reason or basis for comparison and 2Face doesn’t have to go through the physical torture Fela did to demonstrate that he loves his country. In addition, when we tell the story of Fela, we never include bloodshed where thousands die as a result of Fela organizing a march with no security and a clear promise of violence before the march occurs. Therefore such comparison is silly, at best.
Again 2Face made the right call, and at a minimum, he sparked engagement in having Nigerian citizens demand accountability from their government.
My 50kobo for all it’s worth. What’s your take? Did 2Face make the right call?
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