When Nigerian ace hip hop artiste, Innocent Idibia, popularly known as 2Face, fired the warning shot that he would be leading a nationwide protest over the deplorable state of the nation, it sounded like one of his many hit songs, that would run its course as soon as it started. But it quickly began to sound like a song that would not die, at least not too soon, as the ‘African Queen’ crooner made an Instagram broadcast on his official handle on January 25, 2017 to intimate his fans on why he’s taking such course of action.
“I am blessed to have a platform that allows me to reach a lot of people at a time. I believe this voice also comes with a responsibility to use it to speak up for my people. So, when I received the broadcasts that had been going round for some days calling for protests against the state of the country I posted it in a show of support.
My intention was never to take credit for the movement but rather amplify the voices of the organizations credited with the widely circulated message. To my colleagues who have joined their voices to this call, thank you for showing the Nigerian people they are not alone. I remain committed to contributing to the well being of my people in any little way I can. One love! #WeWillmarch”
How it all started
The very idea of a nationwide protest didn’t start with 2Face Idibia, it was being muted by a group known as ‘Enough is Enough Coalition Nigeria’. Like the way everything is being sold to the people in Nigeria these days, the singer sort of became its brand ambassador, adding fuel to the fire already started by the Coalition.
On their website, Enough is Enough (EiE) says it is “a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through active citizenship. We are non-partisan, neither are we a platform for the actualization of any individual’s political ambition.”
According to more facts on their website, the EiE was instigated by former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who during the Future Awards of 2010 challenged young people in the audience to take charge of their destinies. She underlined the population advantage in a way many people had never heard before and emphasized that change can only happen when young people say ‘enough’! She didn’t define what form that action should take, but young people across the country were listening.” “This, essentially, was the birth of the EnoughisEnough Nigeria Coalition,” says an entry on the website.
For 2Face Idibia, coming into the picture is something that must have taken some personal resolve, or so it will seem. But his taking the plunge headlong may not be unconnected to the massacre and mindless killings in Southern Kaduna. The singer was saddened by the turn of events and government’s perceived inaction. In one of his posts on social media he preached oneness, tolerance and unity in the land.
“Two years ago I was made the Tafidan Kudendan by the Kudendan kingdom, not because I am Muslim, Christian, Hausa, Fulani or Idoma, but because I am Nigerian. It is tragic that things had to reach the point where innocent lives were lost, and my thoughts are with everyone hurting because of this crisis. “We should all promote respect and tolerance despite our differences, whether government official or citizen.”
His official statement
On Tuesday, January 31, 2017 the former Plantashun Boiz lead vocalist was supposed to meet the press at Eko Hotel, Lagos on his next concert tagged “Eargasm”. But the expectation that hung in the air was everything but his next concert. Everyone wanted to know what he had to say concerning the planned protest, especially when questions are being asked of his true intent. Some tongues have been wagging that he has been compromised by some political inclinations.
When 2Baba showed up, he didn’t disappoint as he released an official statement on the protest. “Since the idea of a nationwide march was first mentioned, the need for urgent solutions to the challenges facing Nigerians has become very clear,” he said in the statement.
Continuing: “The people have hoped for a better Nigeria since 1999 but things are not getting any better for the majority. We are still where we are – poor and desperate. I will no longer be quiet.
I want to thank EiE, The 2face Foundation, numerous colleagues and countless fellow Nigerians for stepping up to partner with me. I am just a musician with a point of view and the ear of my fans. I have dedicated my time and resources to peace building, voters’ education towards peaceful elections and youth engagement in governance in Nigeria.
This time around, my partners, colleagues and I have come together to present a platform for real Nigerians to communicate their real pains to government at all levels in a peaceful and articulate manner with a view to getting lasting solutions to our problems. This march is about demanding that all saboteurs of good government policies should hands off.
This march is about encouraging positive minded Nigerians to continue to work without intimidation.”
On the question of any political colouration of the protest, 2Face clearly made his position clear and succinctly asked politicians of any leaning to back off. “It is not a platform for politicians of any party to manipulate. I know you will still spin it but for one second leave your battles aside and just listen to people without trying to score cheap political points against one another. It is not a point scoring exercise. It is certainly not personal. It is not an organized labour platform. With all due respect to our comrades who have done much for Nigeria, this march is for the unrepresented.”