Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Nigeria: #OccupyNigeria Holland and the chickens in the embassy




Cordially invited
I received notice by email on Sunday that #OccupyNigeria was coming to the Netherlands. Sometimes I am amazed about how more engaged I am with Nigerians all around the world through social media than those with a Nigerian heritage in the Netherlands.
At least the few I have spoken to with regards to the issues in Nigeria have been apathetic if not hostile to the idea that the little we can do in the Netherlands could be of any effect.
In my opinion, I beg to differ; it is important that Nigerians anywhere and everywhere in the world are seen to have a unity of purpose and direction to move towards obtaining that long held view that we are people of a country with great potential.
The arrangements
The convenor of the #OccupyNigeria protest in the Netherlands or for simplicity sake #OccupyNigeria Holland had arranged for a peaceful 45 minute protest at the Nigerian Embassy in The Hague though I did call to ascertain this morning if we were to prepare to be jostled by the police. He had received the requisite permits and made out the placards that attendees could hold up outside the embassy.
I had planned to arrive with 10 minutes to spare but by the time the connections between train, tram and bus were made, I was sadly 10 minutes late.
At #OccupyNigeria Holland
By the time I arrived at the embassy, the leaders were chatting to an official who came out to receive the letter of protest, gave some assurances to pass on our message but took no questions and returned to the comfort and security of the embassy building.
A number of press organisations were there as Radio NetherlandsWorldwide (link to their report) and journalists from 9JA.TV, we were interviewed about why we were there, what we came to achieve and our views about the turnout at the protest.
Primarily, I thought it was a disgrace and utterly disrespectful whilst smacking of cowardice for the staff of the embassy to hide behind the curtains of the building peeping out to see what we their fellow Nigerians we up to as if they were unconcerned and we were a spectacle to behold.
The turnout was not high, we are just about 15 as someone wryly noted that if the embassy had called a party the troops would be out in droves to attend and be jolly. Our resolve was however not diminished; for the concerned and the apathetic Nigerian, we are all affected and every little we can do for its progress is commendable.
We are Nigerians
The most important point I had to make was in response to the question about the terrorist attacks in the North and whether I would advise my relations if they were from the South to return home.
I made the point that part of my upbringing was in the North even though my parents are from the South-West, that I speak Hausa which is the language of the majority in the North and that there is neither Northern nor Southern Nigerian – we are all Nigerians together and wherever they are terrorised, they are my people.
Besides, we cannot ask those who live in the North to leave the North for the terrorists.
As we stood in the cold, the men with loud voices voiced our views on corruption – I held up a “No to Corruption” placard, on the fuel subsidy, on bad leadership and the sadly inefficient and lackadaisical attitude of the embassy in the Netherlands.
We stressed that we were not against the government but at the same time, the government and more pertinently, the staff at the embassy had to earn the trust of Nigerians in charting the progress of Nigeria.
Making our point
We sang the protest songs almost like socialists and concluded our protest with singing the National anthem loudly and proudly.
It was the little we could do from the Netherlands, but once again, the authorities are put on notice that Nigerians wherever they are in the world can organise, gather, project and protest with regards to issues back home and how we are represented in the Netherlands.
As we all know, the #OccupyNigeria protests are part of the multipronged approach to take our country back from the rot and rut that has plagued it for decades, we will not relent and we will not despair until our country begins to work and live out the potential it has always had but rarely realised.
It was a pleasure to meet other concerned Nigerians – Long Live Nigeria and God bless our dear fatherland.
A Slideshow of the #OccupyNigeria protest can be found here. Hopefully, I will get links to pictures showing my visage too. Thank you - Sahara Reporters for your coverage - Our Protest and the PhotoNews.

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