Nigeria is the promise to Africa that its days of impact on a global scale are not over. It is the hope of the black race, the assurance that wherever the feet of courage may tread, the world will listen.
This is why we believe in this country though deeply torn by ideas, culture, religion, class and all other walls visible in any plural society. This is why we chose to stand, a lone voice, condemning the manner of conduct of the 2023 presidential election demanding for justice, equity and fairness. It did not matter to us what personal or individual endeavours were at risk.
It only mattered that Nigeria was headed for another run down the
steep hill of illegality. Sixty – six days later, we are still here holding the banner of truth demanding accountability in what is acclaimed as the longest and most peaceful protest by any group in the history of Nigeria.
We are proud. Not of ourselves. But of our country, for the many darts it has bellied yet standing strong and unbroken. We celebrate the courage of our founding fathers, their untiring dedication to the pursuant of sovereignty, on account of which we wear the demonym, Nigerian, today.
Our protest has been issues – based without political, religious or tribal influences. We are Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Birom, Ibibio, Fulani, Kanuri, Igala, Efik, Nupe, with almost all the ethnic nationalities lavishly represented.
Above all, we are victims of the same injustice, corruption, bigotry, nepotism, tribalism, that have gravely scarred our land. We made certain the notion that we are not Wazobia.
We are Nigerians. So, when we matched, the Igbo held the hands of the Yoruba; the Efik, called on the Hausa to draw closer; the
Fulani and Tiv shared water. We did not break ranks.
In those moments, amidst the screams and sweat, in the corners of the minds where doubts would cling, in the heart of the mass, as a Black sea we flowed through the streets of Abuja, there was nothing broken in our ideology.
All we hoped for was a better country, a sustainable future for our children, their children and their children. A healthcare system that
will not chase doctors to embassies hustling for visas; roads that will not collapse before they are commissioned; a housing policy that will provide homes for all and many more. And when we called for the cancellation of the 2023 presidential election, it was not to curry benefits to any presidential candidate, political party, or region.
It was to force accountability from the words that rode promises from the lips of INEC through its chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu. For it is the duty of any responsible citizenry to do so. Democracy is not an assemblage of ambiguous rules and impracticable ideas by which society isrun.
It is a deliberate surrender of the machinery of choice to the people. A people that look away from this responsibility at any given time, wake up to a world alien to reason and norms.
In the course of over 14 days, we held physical protests in the nation’s capital, Abuja, not as a sport but a proof of our commitment to ensuring that leaders emerge through credible processes. There are no back doors to this. It is either the way or it is not democracy.
We have also held prayers, press conferences, and virtual protests, all of which form part of our submissions to the United Nations, US Embassy, British High Commission, ECOWAS and the European Union Delegation. We have also taken our protests to these diplomatic enclaves including the Canadian High Commission Abuja.
All while standing on the sands of threats, intimidation, and an attempted stab attack on our convener. We are aware that one of our leaders lost her job as a result of standing up in defence of Nigeria. She has since taken it in good faith as we hope
and pray for brighter sunshine.
Also, the recent brutalization of our flag man has raised further concern of safety for our members. We did not embark on this journey hoping that it would be without scars. We went head in knowing that though scars may stamp out bodies, our hearts will be free of the burden of silence and that each voice is a country drawn closer to redemption.
So, yes, we will go again, and again, and again, until Nigeria is free.
We will continue to call on the judiciary to stay committed to the idea that is Nigeria. This is the right thing to do. For to be a judge is not to hold a gavel alone. It is to be consistent in justice and in holding high the values of truth.
The Presidential Election Petition Court currently sitting in Abuja, provides an opportunity for the judiciary to redeem itself, to assure Nigerians that it is on their side as the last hope of the common
man. And no matter who is pronounced as victor in the proceedings, may such decision come from a transparent process.
We must never allow justice to be reduced to an item in a stall. For a society without justice is dead.
We salute the courage of the media, especially sections of the media who reported our protest. However, the ample media coverage of the activities of political thugs and hoodlums throughout our protest is disturbing.
A healing nation need as fearless, professional, robust, and unbiased media to tell its stories. We must stop behaving like news is become as a commodity bowing to the will of bargains. We must take a stand for our country, on the possibilities of healing and the audacious courage it requires.
Never should the media look away when women are harassed by political thugs. Stories must stand on equal footing to
challenge each other in a fair tussle. We call on the Nigerian media, especially Arise News, Channels TV and TVC News, to be responsible in its coverage of our activities and those of other groups calling for the enthronement of justice as contestation on the outcome of the 2023 presidential election continues.
Our job is not done. However, our job on the streets must now retire as we prepare for next steps. We are not people bound to today, to its glories or follies. We are a people of motion. A people who seek more.
Our focus is unshakably Nigerian. Our rules are written by justice. Consequently, the Free Nigeria Movement will no longer participate in any protests or gatherings to contest the outcome of the presidential election of February 25, 2023.
This is in keeping with our commitment to ensure that no life
is lost in our protest. Given the weight of threats and intimidation daily received by our leaders, we can no longer guarantee the safety of members and therefore call for the cessation of public outings for protests.
We make this announcement today and will send copies to the police and DSS. Henceforth, our banners or placards will not be used in any protests pertaining to the presidential election until further notice.
Any sighting of our banner or the likeness of such at any protest, kindly note, is not us. We have done our bit ensuring the safety of all our members and recording no incident or death.
Finally, we thank all Nigerians for their support, guidance, courage and for staying within the ideology of our movement on all protest days. We also thank the security agencies especially the FCT Police Command and the Department of Security Services, for their exceptional display of professionalism without which our talk of security would not be a thing.
Your conduct embolden our belief that a new Nigeria is possible.
We implore all comrades to imbibe the new directive as we look forward to announcing new moves soon.
We love our country and will do whatever it takes within the law to defend its dignity. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dr. Moses Paul,
Free Nigeria Movement (FNM).