A South Africa-based Diaspora organisation known as Southgerians has explained the reasons why many Nigerians living abroad have been staging series of marches and protests across the world in the build-up to the 2019 general election which begins a few days from now.
The group said the marches and protests are meant to sensitize Nigerians at home and outside the country of the need to use the coming elections as opportunities to correct the various challenges facing the country in order that the next four years and indeed, the future of the country is not completely ruined.
Addressing a select group of journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, the Director of Southgerians John Metchie said that he came into the country ahead of other members of the group to prepare grounds for others who would be returning for the presidential election of 16th February, adding that Nigerians in Diaspora are fully prepared to participate in the electoral process.
“The marches and protests going on by different Diaspora groups across the world are spontaneous reactions from concerned Nigerians living abroad who have come to the realisation that the 2019 general election, especially that of the president, are very crucial to the future of this country.
“They are spontaneous reactions because nobody is centrally coordinating the marches and protests. They are reactions from Nigerian citizens in each of the countries where they have been held but others have travelled far to join in marches outside the country of the residence. We started it in South Africa. Others have marched in Canada and across European countries, China, Turkey, Togo and many other countries.
“But the message is similar everywhere. We are concerned that under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria is sliding back to dictatorship instead of moving forward democratically. That is totally unacceptable. We cannot allow one man to destroy the gains our country has made in civil leadership, the rule of law, respect to the constitution and sanctity of the judiciary. The attempt to destroy democratic institutions like the legislature and the judiciary is the worst abuse any country can suffer and we say to Nigerians, ‘don’t allow this to become the norm’
“Again, Nigerians living abroad want to come home to invest in our dear country because like we say here, ‘there is no place like home.’ We want to invest in our country but the investment environment under the current administration is very hostile. How can we come to invest when those who invested have watched their businesses fold and their money go down the drain? Therefore we say let the people vote wisely so that we get leaders that understand what investment means.
“Then there is the issue of security of lives and property. We can’t forget what has been happening in Benue, Taraba, Zamfara, the president’s home state of Katsina and Kaduna state, just to mention a few. And these states are not even part of the North East where Boko Haram has refused to be defeated and still occupying Nigerian territories.
“We are marching and protesting the terrible state of the Nigerian economy. The economy is currently in very bad shape due largely to incapacity of the leadership. As I speak to you, gentlemen of the press, Nigeria has no economic team. A professor of law cannot be a leader of an economic team. There is no visible economic expert working with President Buhari. How then can the economy be fixed?
“We are marching across cities of the world to sensitize Nigerians at home and abroad to rise up to the occasion and be fully involved in the 2019 election process. We are calling on those who registered to return home and vote. Those who are not yet registered, we ask them to join the vigilance group. Through our marches and protests, we have been calling on the United State, the European Union, Canada and all well meaning members of the international community to send their observer missions,. We call on ECOWAS and the African Union to watch Nigeria, to watch the government, the various security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) so that the will of the Nigerian people will determine our fate and not the caprices of a few,” Metchie said.
Responding to questions from reporters, he listed some other challenges currently facing the country and its citizens, stating that the government has failed to address them.
“Apart from abuse of the law and fundamental rights of citizens, many of who have been in detention and refused freedom in spite of bails granted them by competent courts; apart from insecurity and the wanton destruction of lives and property of Nigerians both by brigands from within and militias from outside the country; apart from bad economy, hostile investment environment that has forced many businesses to fold up; there are issues of national unity which is now at its lowest ebb.
“You ask me why Nigeria is divided. The answer is simple, nepotism by the leadership. How can almost all the security chiefs come from one section of the country and the same religion in a secular nation? The way and manner in which appointments are made by the administration show deliberate attempt to isolate a section of the country from others and that is enough to cause disaffection and therefore disunity. The level of unemployment is unacceptable. Millions of young people are roaming the streets because they are unemployed. Those who were working before this government came to office, majority of them have lost their jobs and have no alternative means of livelihood, so many of them are into crimes like kidnapping, what you call yahoo yahoo for the buys while the girls have gone into prostitution both at home and abroad.
“See how women’s pants have become target for evil. Such stories bring us shame and must stop. Therefore every one must wake up. We must all rise and rescue Nigeria, The time for action is now,” Metchie concluded.