How protests groups prevailed on the president to return

by Alexander O. Onukwue

There were all night vigils held in front of Abuja House in London. Some accounts have it that the noise made by protesters was so constant that someone came from the inside to complain that the President needed to sleep.

Less than 24 hours later, the President has departed Abuja House for Abuja, for the first time in over 100 days.

In different forms and to varying degrees of success, groups of Nigerians have organized protests and held demonstrations to express their dissatisfaction with the absence of President Buhari since May 7. Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, was the centre of the most popular protest held within this period, led by Charly Boy Oputa of the ‘Our Mumu Don Do’ movement, Deji Adeyanju, a former strategist for the PDP, and Ariyo Dare-Atoye.

The ResumeorResign Protests kicked off as the number of days of Buhari’s absence closed in on the 90 day mark. The Unity Fountain, same used by the Bring Back Our Girls movement, was the rallying point. It was largely peaceful, without the interference of the Police and other security agencies, for the first day, till those authorities decided that “miscreants” had infiltrated the group on subsequent occasions.

Charly Boy and company were tear-gassed, with the Fountain declared not to be free with the saturation by police vans and armed personnel. But where the Abuja leg of the protests were hit, London and New York took over the baton, and those, it would appear, had the ultimate effect of triggering the urgency of the President’s handlers towards a return to Nigeria.

Femi Adesina, one of the President’s spokesmen, had said that it was up to the President’s doctors to decide when he would be ready to move to Nigeria. This had been Mr Adesina’s statement on May 7 – that the doctors would decide Buhari’s return – and also when he and other media aides were in London. However, Buhari received the Senate President and Speaker after the aides had come and gone, Saraki stating that Buhari’s return was “imminent”. If so, why then did the General Overseer Worldwide of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Enoch Adeboye, still have to visit him in London? Could he not have waited for him to be back to Abuja in order to make a shorter 45 minute trip from Lagos?

Those protesters who held a vigil outside Abuja House were not going to be intimidated into suspending their movement, unlike Charly Boy had to inevitably do. And no Government wants to be embarrassed in public; the UK authorities have grappled with terror tensions in London and Manchester, and would not have been pleased if “the visitor” were to be a source for its streets being noisy again.

There had to be one pragmatic option; Resume.

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