2Face Idibia, due to his fame and the respect he commands across the country, had the platform to make a difference. It seemed he had stepped up to the plate to use that platform when he announced that he will be leading protests against the dire socioeconomic conditions in the country on Monday.
There were frankly pathetic attempts to bully him into not standing up and be counted from the police and supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Some suggested that the singer was being sponsored by the opposition. Despite these efforts, Idibia remained steadfast that the show must go on, until late last night. He then backtracked, claiming that the planned march was being hijacked by people who did not share his views and he wanted to avoid bloodshed.
While his concerns are understandable in the light of the killings of Shia Muslims and pro-Biafrans by the security agencies, many commentators have not bought 2Face’s reasons for pulling out. It is likely that people in the corridors of power and the police have put pressure on him to cancel.
While he was making all the right noises about how terrible things were in Nigeria, 2Face seemed to be following in the footsteps of the legendary Nigerian singer and activist Fela. But Fela never let his own comfort or safety prevent him from doing what he thought was necessary. 2Face has shown he is no Fela and many of his fans feel let down and have resorted to calling him names like “coward” or “Two Face” on social media. He has surely lost a lot of credibility by backing down.
The singer’s climb down has highlighted the dangers of movements led from the top. Bob Marley sang in “Zimbabwe”: “So soon we’ll find out who is the real revolutionary and I don’t want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.” While it is not clear whether 2Face’s attempts to lead a protest were motivated by mercenary reasons, it is absolutely clear that he is no revolutionary.
When it came to the crunch, a very rich singer, not surprisingly, decided he could not afford to cast his lot with long-suffering Nigerians and march against misrule. It clearly shows why ordinary Nigerians have to organise themselves and not look to the rich and famous for “heroes”.
It is refreshing to see that fellow organisers of the march, the group “Enough is Enough Nigeria”, are insisting the protest is going ahead without 2Face. They confirmed this in a tweet late last night:
— EiE Nigeria (@EiENigeria) February 4, 2017
2Face has done his bit by using his very high profile to help raise awareness of the issues. It is a shame he has jumped off the bus at the eleventh hour. But the movement is bigger than him and must proceed as planned. The voices of the voiceless must be heard and they should speak the truth to power with #OneVoiceNigeria on Monday.