The Presidency has told musician Innocent Idibia, popularly known as Tuface and 2Baba, and all those who wish to join his organized protest on Monday that they are free to do so.
“This administration will not prevent Nigerians from expressing themselves in peaceful protests,” said Laolu Akande, a Senior Special Assistant on Media in the presidency. “It is a fundamental right of the people.”
Akande expressed government’s position a day after the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Fatai Owoseni, said the police would disallow the protest on grounds that it could be hijacked by hoodlums and it is illegal.
Akande went further to question the logic behind the protest, judging by the efforts by the Buhari administration to invest in the welfare of the people.
“No government has ever laid out the kind of Social Investment Programme the Buhari government is now running across the nation, that will touch millions,” Akande tweeted on Friday.
Also on Friday, Owoseni and Tuface met over the issue.
After the meeting, the two sides resolved to modify their hard line positions.
Owoseni explained that the police were concerned about the safety of residents of Lagos State, including the protesters, and would not want anything untoward to happen to them.
He said: “We had a meeting with the protesters and we explained to them why we advised against the protest.
“A pro-government group wants to protest that same day and we don’t want a situation where there would be friction.
“We also don’t want hooligans to hijack the process and injure the protesters.
“After explaining to them, they said they will go back and discuss with others.
“They said if they decide to go ahead, they won’t demonstrate, but would assemble at a point and read their demands.
“That notwithstanding, we have resolved to provide security for them.
“It is our responsibility and we won’t shy away from it.
“We will ensure trouble makers do not hijack the process.”
Meanwhile, a group of artistes that styled itself the APC Northern Musicians Forum on Friday said it would not participate in the planned protest by Tuface over alleged sufferings in Nigeria.
Haruna Ningi, the Chairman of the Forum, who made the remark at a media briefing in Kaduna, said the protest was different from the ideology of the forum.
Ningi, however, agreed that Nigerians were suffering, but insisted that the present administration met nearly an empty treasury and had to increase savings to get Nigerians out of the present situation.
Ningi urged Nigerians to be patient with the present administration, adding that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government would get the country out of the present difficulties.
He said: “There is hunger in the land and the President is going to give us a life-saving change that our sufferings will not come back again.
“But they need time for the change to come.”
Ningi debunked the claim that the forum was influenced by politicians.
He said: “The President has integrity and will not pay any musician to sing for him.”
He said that the forum was meant to mobilise the electorate through music at the grassroots to disseminate correct and factual information on national challenges.
He said: “Such songs in hard times will imbibe in the minds of common men that they have a role to play in the journey of change.”