June 12 protests: Edo Deputy Governor says godfatherism bane of Nigeria’s democracy

Protesters in Edo

By Jethro Ibileke/Benin

The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Comrade Philip Shaibu, has blamed the advent of godfatherism in Nigeria’s politics as the bane of democracy in the country.

This is even as he called for the removal of a bicameral legislature to reduce cost of running governance.

Shaibu stated this on Saturday at the Government House in Benin, the state capital, while addressing hundreds of youths who were protesting alleged misrule in the country.

The protesters under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Organizations, Students’ Unions and other concerned Nigerians, brandished placards of various inscriptions, as they joined others across the country to seek for good governance and sustainable democracy.

The protest which commenced at 10 am, lasted for more than two hours and disrupted free flow of human and vehicular movements around Ring Road, Airport Road and its environs.

The peaceful protest held amidst water-tight security, as police operatives on hand almost outnumbered the protesters.

The activities of the protesters caused a huge traffic jam at the major streets of Benin City as they marched peacefully to the State Government House, where they were received by the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu.

Speaking at the Government House, President, Faculty of Peace Organisation, Kelly Osunbor Omokaro, said “22 years down the line, the freedom of speech that has been the hallmark of democracy has been muzzled.”

He noted that Nigerians were freer to express themselves during the military era than when they now claim to practice democracy.

Omokaro who also told the Deputy Governor that the composition of the State House of Assembly leaves much to be desired, urged him to rise up to save the situation.

Speaking in the same vein, Barr. Abraham Oviawe, urged the government to improve on the security situation of the state, especially on our major highways.

On his part, the President of One Love Foundation, Patrick Eholor, urged the government to push for state policing to ensure the safety of lives and properties of the citizens of the state.

All the speakers urged those in power to rise up and ensure democracy continues to exist for the interest of freedom of speech.

Responding, the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, who opined that democracy must continue to exist to the extent we have freedom of speech.

“I want to salute you in the name of our struggle. Today, we are on the streets protesting for good governance. We have agreed that the difference is freedom of speech,” he said.

Commenting on the issue of the State House of Assembly, Comrade Shaibu recalled that the 14 elected lawmakers failed to show up for inauguration, but “chose to go with their godfather, despite my plea that they should make themselves available for inauguration.”

“When the House of Assembly waited patiently for their return, they failed to show up and their seats were declared vacant by the then Speaker of the House,” Shaibu added.

He however noted that the matter is still in the court.

Commenting on ways to combat the poor state of security in the country, the Edo deputy governor advocated for state and community police, saying that the real policing is at the community level.

They protester later submitted a petition to the state government.

The Deputy Governor who assured that their message would be conveyed to the Governor, later joined them in the peaceful protest before retreating to his office.