Members of Civil society Organizations have turn down the invitation by Edo State to attend a meeting of “Edo State Transition Committee: Stakeholders engagement”, setting a new vista for undemocratic forces that hog power in the State.
The tit-for-tat followed the alleged attack on a peaceful procession by Committee for the defence of human Right (CDHR) in alliance with all other Civil society Organizations National Day of mass action against insecurity in Nigeria on Monday in Benin City by agents of the State government — Edo State Public Works better known as PUWOV, prompting a flurry of condemnation by Nigerians.
The agents, according to reports, purported that the national day of mass action against insecurity in Nigeria, was meant to smear the image of a prominent politician and avert a rebirth of last October EndSARS riot against police brutality and other related abuses.
But one of the invited CSOs, Leftist Osazee Edigin, Coordinator, Action for Socio-political and Economic Change (ASEC) said the measure was taken to demonstrate to the government that reciprocity weapon check the shrinking space for Nigerians Right to peaceful Assembly and free speech as enshrined in the Constitution.
But the meeting held on Tuesday at Chief John Odigie-Oyegun Staff training Centre in Benin City, the State Capital, was attended by other prominent Citizens in the State including the State Head of Service, Mr. Anthony Okungbowa who signed the letters of invitation of guests on behalf of Governor Godwin Obaseki who was present at the meeting.
“According to Edigin, former Public Relations officer, Edo Civil society Organizations (EDCSOs), “As a social activist and a private businessman that has put in so much over the years towards achieving a better Edo state can’t sleep seeing a senior veteran in the struggle in the person of Dr. Osagie Obayuwana and others being humiliated by some little boys working for Edo state government in Benin City over a peaceful protest for a better Country for all.
“For some of us, we are convinced and passionate for the actualization of an egalitarian society hence we have invested our time, energy and resources into the emancipation of the downtrodden. If the amount of commitment that have been channeled into the struggle was for politics over the years, some of us should be among the political gladiators in Edo state as at today.
“Why should I honour a meeting with the governor of Edo state a day after a peaceful protest for security and welfare of citizens led by Dr. Osagie Obayuwana and a former Attorney General of the state was attacked by some overzealous government officials. I have been a victim of such attacks from government officials in many occasions when out to protest against government anti people policies. Dr. Osagie Obayuwana remains one of those that fought for Nigeria democracy at the risk of his life.
“Civil Society actors should carry themselves with dignity, respect and self confidence. They are not to be seen an opportunists, rabble-roussers, empty critics or hungry fellows. Those dinning and wining with Edo state government in the name of civil society actors should better declare themselves as full time politicians rather than giving the government wrong impression of what the civil society movement stands for.
“As for those Civil society actors fighting hard to get government attention should rather focus more on affecting the lives of the common man and have a source of livelihood. Government will recognize Civil society inputs and criticisms only if they borne out of grounded knowledge of the issues and proffering of better ways of achieving results.
“Edo state government must respect the civic space as the voice of the masses which is expected to influence government policies and action plans in the right direction. When civil society keeps quiet and the masses reacts, the outcome will be likened to the EndSARS protest.
“Meeting with the state governor is not a priority to me until the civic space is given its right place in Edo State”, he said menacingly.
Recall that in November 2019, members of Edo Civil society Organizations (EDCSO’s) who were on a peaceful procession over the non-functional multi billion Edo State Specialist hospital Complex on Sapele road in Benin City were also attacked by agents of the Government while the Camcorder belonging to Rave television Reporter in Edo State, Comrade Jimoh Ogrima was smashed by the ragtag militants.
LETTER OF INVITATION