Last week, the Redcard Movement, a pressure group seeking good governance and regime change in Nigeria launched its first public rally in Abuja. CALEB ONWE reports
The Red Card Movement has been trending on the social media for some time but last week, it’s promoters decided to bring to reality by organising a rally on the streets of Abuja.
This public perception of the group was boosted by the fact that it is led by a former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, a dogged fighter and prime mover of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) fame.
In this latest outing, Ezekwesili and her group are angry about the poor level of governance in Nigeria today and have vowed to mobilise well meaning Nigerians to dislodge what she described as an incompetent leadership.
Social media enthusiasts are familiar with the barrage of criticism that followed her declaration of a lofty dream to achieving a paradigm shift in the process of choosing leaders in Nigeria and also mindset conversion in part of those who chose leaders.
One thing counting in favour of Ezekwesili is her ability to remain resolute in pursuing this her new project, particularly when one considers her track records in moblising and sustaining her vision in the BBOG campaigns against all odds.
The launch of the movement in the Federal Capital Territory took place at the popular Berger Roundabout in Abuja. It was designed to feel the pulse of the public about this new pressure group.
The first hurdle the movement struggled to dismantle was the embargo the FCT Police command placed on the Unity Fountain, a place where citizens gather to exercise their constitutional rights of free speech.
Amidst heavy police presence, Ezekwesili took the Red Card campaign to Nigerians from all walks of life. She, supported by other members of the team, emphasized that political power belongs to the citizens, who must wake up and stand up against a “failed government”.
According to Ezekwesili, the country would remain in the claws of politicians who were not prepared to reward those who voted them with good governance, if nothing drastic was done to chase them out of office in 2019.
“We are here today to activate the office of the citizen which is the office that every Nigerian citizen occupies. A citizen doesn’t have to be in government in order to have a voice as to how they are governed.
“We want to mobilize citizens so that they will know that they have the power to determine the kind of government that will lead this country, a government that is competent, capable and has character
“When citizens don’t put their voice in how they are governed, then we are going to stay as a failed country forever. We decided to use our red card as a way of saying to people who have failed in governance to go and get out of the field of governance,” she declared.
Armed with the determination to see her dreams fulfilled in 2019, Ezekwesili also disclosed plans to have the movement launched across the 36 states of the federation.
Similarly, another member of the movement, Aisha Yesufu, who is also a member of the BBOG, said the vision of the movement was to lay the foundation for a new Nigeria.
Yesufu, while refuting the claims that the movement was being sponsored by a political party to discredit the current government, said the movement was purely a platform for citizens to express their will and take possession of what belonged to them.
“This movement is not sponsored by anyone. It started organically online by Nigerians who are tired of the bad governance that the APC and PDP have offered over the years. As citizens, we want to entrench leaders who believe in the people.
“Leaders, who are competent and capable of moving Nigeria forward. There is no sponsorship anywhere as this is just a movement by the Nigerian people,” she noted.
Another leader of the movement, Maureen Kabirk, noted that one of the most disturbing things about the current crop of leadership in the country was their penchant for sacrificing the interest of the masses to achieve their selfish aims.
“How many of the incompetent leaders will ever bring out their children to lead a political protest? When employment opportunities are available in places like the CBN, NNPC, these selfish leaders would secretly fix their own children there.
“But when it is time for recruiting the youths into the Police, the military, it would be made open, because they want people they will push to where they would be killed” she said.
A citizen, Chizoba Nnamani, who probably had been looking for opportunity outside the social media sphere to express his desire for a change in government, got one at the Redcard Movement rally when he was given the microphone to talk.
Nnamani said: “I am a trader, I came to Abuja and have not benefited from the social welfare of the government. I have never voted in any election before but have decided to get my voters card in order to vote out these politicians”.
The last word
Despite the efforts the proponents of the movement had made to sell their agenda to Nigerians, cynicism is on the increase.
However, with the benefit of hindsight, Ezekwesili and her supporters appear to be overlooking the threats on their ways with unflinching commitment to the project.
One thing that remains outstanding about this idea, is the need for citizens to be actively involved in all the processes that produce their leaders, by voting and making their votes count. This is the cardinal point the Redcard Movement wants promoted. Whether the movement will withstand the opposition that is coming from all frontiers against it and leave its footprints on the sand of history is a matter of time.