Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, has said that the Nigerian Government won’t take the #RevolutionNow protests serious until millions of citizens take to the streets to in different parts of the country to display their frustration against the administration.
On Wednesday, in commemoration of the first anniversary of the #RevolutionNow protests, Nigerians across the country poured out to the streets to demand improved governance, an end to corruption and senseless killings from the Buhari administration.
But rather than protecting the peaceful demonstrators, heavily-armed security agents unleashed by the government pounced on the protesters, harassing, brutalising and arresting dozens of them.
Justifying the infringement on the rights of the protesters while appearing on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Thursday, Adesina described the demonstrations as an “irritation and a child’s play”.
He said, “Well, was it really a protest? By my estimation, it just seemed like a child’s play because protests by their very nature are spontaneous things, mass things. These are just a sprinkle of people trying to be funny. As far as I am concerned, it is nothing to worry about.
“A revolution is always a mass thing, not a sprinkle of young boys and girls you saw yesterday (Wednesday) in different parts of the country. I think it was just a funny thing to call it a revolution protest.
“Revolution is something that turns the normal order. What happened yesterday, would you call it a revolution?
“It was just an irritation, just an irritation and some people want to cause irritation in the country and what I will say is when things boil over, they boil over because you continue to heat them.”
But firing back at the President Buhari’s spokesperson during the television programme, National President of Revolutionary Lawyers Forum, Mr Tope Akinyode, who took part in the protest in Abuja on Wednesday, said Mr Adesina was myopic in his definition of the term ‘revolution’ and what that word truly connotes in English Language.
According to Akinyode, the demonstrators were only exercising their rights by taking to the streets to demand good governance, poverty eradication and an end to insecurity and many other issues in the country.
Akinyode said, “We have to forgive Mr Adesina and the Buhari government for all the things they speak. They don’t understand these things. They are bereft of the fundamental workings of democracy and the rule of law. They don’t know what protest means, they can’t appreciate it
“Buhari is a dictator. He doesn’t obey court orders so he doesn’t know that Nigerians or the people have the right to protest which is why Mr. Adesina was continuously talking down on Nigerians, saying it was a child’s play and an irritation.
“I am disappointed by the myopic definition that Mr Adesina gave the word revolution especially being a journalist who should have fundamental knowledge of the English Language. Revolution has many meanings to it. You cannot attach a single meaning to the word.
“For those who have a deficiency in the use of English, revolution can also mean an improvement, an advancement in a system which has a positive long-lasting impact. The demands of the protester are well articulated. They are engaging the government in its failings – unemployment, insecurity, non-payment of minimum wage N30,000 and many other things.
“And if the protesters are demanding the removal of the present government that is constituted, it is a constitutionally guaranteed right. The law allows for impeachment of any validly elected government and for a government that has woefully failed, is it not right for it to resign?”
Apparently embarrassed by Akinyode’s boldness and exposition of government’s failure, Adesina expressed anger at Channels Television for scheduling him with “such a character”.
He said, “Let me make this point. Channels TV should have been ethical and professional enough to tell me that I was appearing with somebody and then I could decide whether to appear or not to appear.
“The way this young man is talking, if I had a chance, I wouldn’t want to share a platform with him because he is irascible, he is irrational and he doesn’t understand and I could have decided whether to appear with him or not.”
But unmoved by those comments, the young human rights lawyer reminds Adesina that he was a qualified legal practitioner with deep knowledge of the workings of the Nigerian constitution and issues of governance.
He said, “It is not just the way Mr Adesina sees it, that I am a young guy. I am a lawyer and I have an understanding of the law. It is a constitutionally guaranteed right of Nigerians to protest. It is the law.”
Despite riding on to power in 2015 on the back of expressing itself freely, the President Buhari administration has repeatedly clamped down on free speech and voices of dissent in the country.
Several human rights activists like Omoyele Sowore have been arrested and thrown in unlawful detention for constructively pointing out the flaws of the government.
International rights groups like Amnesty International have continued to knock the Buhari’s administration for trying to shrink the civic space in Nigeria.
PHOTOS: Nigerian Security Agents Subjecting Peaceful #RevolutionNow Protesters To Inhuman And Degrading Treatment At Unity Fountain In Abuja | Sahara Reporters #August5thProtest #DaysOfRage @HQNigerianArmy @PoliceNG
SEE MORE PHOTOS: https://t.co/2wB4vfsZjG pic.twitter.com/b1t2XPjHep
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) August 5, 2020