Against all odds, support for the protest began to mount. The government of the day which had hitherto deluded itself into believing that they still enjoyed the same wave of support which saw an incumbent president been voted out of office for the first time in the history of Nigeria, began to get jittery. Out came the special assistant to the president on media, Femi Adesina, to, in his usual style, try to trivialise the whole essence of the protest, labelling it an opposition and disgruntled elements arrangement. Then followed the Lagos State Commissioner of Police giving untenable reasons why the protest will not be allowed to hold in Lagos.
Expectedly, these actions or reactions from government added more filip to the quest, with 2face coming out to boldly counter that the protest will go on irrespective of the moves to suppress it. But with death rumours and ill health of the president to deal with, the kitchen cabinet got into panic mode and inevitably unleashed their fearsome unit on 2face, a report which the singer has denied. Then the unexpected happened. A jumped 2face came out via social media to say the protest has been cancelled due to grave insecurity challenges, quoting the same lines that have turned ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan into a global hero in the order of Mandela and the venerated Martin Luther King Jnr. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case for 2face. In his words “the point I am intent on making is not worth the life of any Nigerian”. A simple statement that admits to many things all at once. For one, it casts the government as autocratic and despotic. In another breath it says there was poor thinking before even jumping on the ship of the protest, to wit, that 2face doesn’t have any inkling of what activism is all about. It also implies he doesn’t understand what the plight of the average Nigerian really is. If he knew he would understand that the a true pro-country protest is worth the blood of the citizens of that country. Isn’t that what the national pledge says? Plus, he clearly misunderstood the context under which Jonathan used those lines, which was a threat of violence by civil group against his incumbent government. He rather choose to walk away and not use state apparatus to perpetuate himself in power. In this case, 2face didn’t threaten violence against government, so if government decides to use force on its people to score a point, then it would have being the new dawn we all wished for, because by then it would truly reveal the nature of the ruling party even to those who still believed in it.
A Legacy Destroyed?
One thing that always endeared 2face to the Nigerian people is the obvious fact that it is very easy for everyone to relate with what he is saying via his music. Even in the face of some seeming character dispositions that manifested in the earlier part of his career, people still managed to overlook all that, preferring to focus on the positive side of his charming personality. This accounts for why Professor Adetoye’s attack on his flaws in the wake of the build up to the #IStandWithNigeria protest was roundly condemned by all and sundry, save the bitter and conniving Blackface. From his mesmerising love songs to those awakening a political consciousness and activism, 2face carved a niche for himself in the order of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Gani Fawehinmi and the very few who dared to challenge the system via their professions.
His decision therefore to back down from a protest he didn’t need to do much to convince many of because of the high level connectivity of empathy involved, has cast him on the cowardly side social crusade and activism. He says it is not worth the blood of anyone? Come on, that is something 2face should have realised before jumping on the ship of activism. 2face should have known that those lines are not going to fly before a people who are already bleeding from the harshest of economic conditions. It’s amazing how 2face suddenly forgot that the protest is really about the blood of many Nigerians who are dying from the current conditions of life in the country. The blood of many a Nigerian is being lost everyday. The protest is about stopping it!
The Protest Has Continued Anyway
This is the sore point for 2face’s withdrawal. While he chickened out at the last minute for whatever reasons, other fearless individuals have continued with the struggle, live! While 2face prefers a social media approach, the real leaders have taken centre-stage to air and articulate their grievances. Whether government listens or not is up to them. But one thing is certain, protests are the true foundations for all great political movements. The APC-led government knows this, because the party itself was the product of the Occupy Nigeria protest. So, while 2face failed to see or sacrifice for the bigger picture, the change mantra on which APC rode to power will be their undoing until the people see any meaningful indication of its fulfilment. And now that the protests are on anyway, the public perception of being let down by 2face is something that will take more than the laid back social media approach the legend has now resigned to pursuing to clean up.
2face is out, but the protest continues. That’s the word out there right now. Maybe it’s not too late for the much-loved singer to retrace his steps and plug into the movement he gave verve to. Otherwise, he will be on the wrong side of history for a long time to come. His own lines “my guy na your eye you go sharpen, because e be like say e don dey happen, no shaking, nothing dey happen nobody wan kpai but dem wan go heaven” may even haunt him more.