A coalition of civil society groups, under the umbrella name of Center for Civil Society and Justice (CCSJ), has staged a rally in Abuja in support of President Muhammadu Buhari who has been on medical vacation in London for close to 100 days.
The protesters today converged at Unity Fountain, the same venue where a rival group of demonstrators under the hashtag, #ResumeorResign, had staged protests three days ago demanding the ailing president’s immediate return to Nigeria or his resignation.
The pro-Buhari protesters carried placards that read, “Support President Buhari,” “Nigeria Cannot Be Held Down By Corruption,” and “Prosecute Looters Now.” Other placards at the rally today read, “Buhari/Osinbajo We Are Fully With You,” “Our President Is Recuperating,” “God Has Healed Nigeria,” “Glory Be To God,” and “Nigerians Are United For President Buhari.”
The pro-Buhari group argued that the sick President had not violated the Constitution, contrary to claims by the #ReturnorResign protesters. They added that President Buhari had fulfilled the constitutional requirements by transmitting a letter to the National Assembly about his condition as well as transferring power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, now the country’s Acting President.
Speaking on behalf of other protesters, one of the conveners, Nelson Ekujumi, pointed out that they decided to stage the rally in order to tell the world that Nigerians were solidly behind President Buhari and his anti-corruption fight. He added that there was no vacuum in the governance of Nigeria, denouncing those calling for Mr. Buhari’s resignation as agents of darkness. Mr. Ekujumi explained that the Nigerian leader was simply sick just like any other person.
The spokesman for the pro-Buhari protesters stressed that the call for the sick president’s resignation was mischievous, petty and unnecessary, adding that it was an attempt by agents of corruption to heat up the polity.
Mr. Ekujumi expressed confidence in the leadership style of President Muhammadu Buhari, and urged Nigerians to disregard those parading themselves as a pro-democracy group. He disclosed that the pro-Buhari group would continue its sit-out for 30 days.
In a related development, another pro-Buhari group, Coalition for Good Governance and Change Initiative in Nigeria also staged a solidarity rally at the Aso Rock gate. Members of the group were sighted chanting solidarity songs in support of the ailing President. The protesters, who are mainly women and youths, said they came out to show their support for Mr. Buhari. They urged him not to bow to the pressure of his detractors who are demanding his resignation.
An effort by the protesters to gain entry into the villa was thwarted by stern looking armed policemen stationed at the gate.
The pro-Buhari protests come on the heels of demonstrations organized a few days ago by pro-democracy groups to demand President Buhari’s resumption or resignation. The ailing president has spent the last 95 days in London for medical treatment, but Nigerians have received no briefings on the nature and scope of their absent leader’s sickness.