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The #OccupyNASS movement is gaining attention on the global digital space, less than 48 hours after protesters demanding the resignation of Senate President Bukola Saraki laid siege to the National Assembly in Abuja.
Saraki is being tried for false asset declaration. The trial has drawn comments from many Nigerians.
While many people have associated the protest with only Saraki’s trial, the movement appears to have expanded its scope. As of Wednesday, the refund of the money spent in the purchase of the controversial 36 Sport Utility Vehicles, allegedly bought at the cost of N37m each, and its payment into the Federation Account topped the list of demands by the group.
Calling on other Nigerians to join the protest, a co-founder of the Bring-back-our-girls group and human rights activist, Aisha Yesufu, said it was not targeted at an individual but intended to erase the culture of impunity in the society and to chart a new course for the country, with regard to public participation in governance.
In a series of tweets, Yesufu said, “This is about the National Assembly and Nigerians. It is not about Saraki; it is about the eighth National Assembly and Nigerians.”
Responding to those who alleged that the protest was sponsored, she called on Nigerians to join in order to make their voices heard on all issues affecting the country.
“We demand urgent action to open up the budget of the National Assembly for public scrutiny, return of the 36 new SUVs bought at N37m each and to scrap the fraudulent constituency projects/account for billions of naira looted in the name of constituency projects,” she posted.
She warned that the group would demand the scrapping of the Senate unless its demands were quickly granted.
However, dozens of social media users have dismissed the protest, saying the participants were paid by Saraki’s political opponents. For example, one Umar Yahya, tweeted that although the demonstrators appeared patriotic, their action was designed for “political struggle.”
On Facebook, another social media activist, Nura Nasan, wondered why the protesters refused to say anything on the crisis in the power sector, President Muhammadu Buhari’s incessant trips abroad and the current fuel scarcity if they actually meant well for the country.
Many people described a photograph of the Christian members of the group forming a circle around their Muslim counterparts when they were praying at the venue of the protest as a new dawn in activism in the country. The photograph, which generated widespread comments, hit the Internet on Wednesday, with many describing it as an indication that Nigerians were ready to put their differences behind them to face their common enemies.
Commenting on the photograph, one Oladapo Ilori, noted, “Our enemies are in panic. At the venue of #OccupyNASS, when Muslims needed to pray, Christians formed a circle around them. What a glorious thing to witness. Who says we cannot live peacefully? This generation will break the jinx of region and religion, which politicians have always used to divide us.”
According to Idris Ahmed, the protest gives Nigerians a rare opportunity to reclaim the country from rogue politicians and leaders. He described the event as a journey to free Nigerians from slavery and mental torture.
He said, “#OccupyNASS has proved to be another success. More people are coming from all over the country to participate in this historic event of reclaiming Nigeria from the tyrants at NASS. The journey towards total emancipation from mental slavery, subjugation, exploitation and impunity has just begun. Nigerian youths have answered the clarion call. This shows that Nigeria will never be the same again.”
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Source: Punch News