UNITED TO OCCUPY
From the South – North through the East – West, the people all stood their ground refusing to be divided by political, religious and ethnic rivalry. Notwithstanding the emergency restraining order from the court not to proceed, they refused and said ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH. The focus was that Nigerians were united to occupy until there was a reversal in the price of fuel. Further demands included a reduction in the cost of governance, curbing high level corruption that has been on the increase in recent years, tackling of insecurity which has escalated due to the attack of the Islamic sect Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country.
Nigeria with a population of over 160 million has experienced continuous depreciation in the value of her national currency resulting in unstable economy, high level of unemployment among the teeming youths who are both educated and illiterate, decay in infrastructure among others. As the nation’s music legend Late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sang in one of his song: suffering and smiling, the people were suffering and smiling believing in the usual slang “I go beta”. But on the 9th of January 2012, they came out in their numbers protesting against the present administration decision to remove fuel subsidy which was announced on the 1st of January 2012. This was like the camel’s back has been broken and the people decided to show the government, that they have been pushed to the wall without nowhere else to run to. Across major cities in the country, they came out to occupy major roads, paralyzing both human and economic activities. The organized Labour ensured all the land, air and seaports were closed with some unknowing passengers stranded, in some International Airports without connecting flights to proceed to further destination.
The voice of the people was resounding with a determination to prove a point, that they would not allow the present administration and the ruling class put them through untold hardship. That they elected them into their present position, and would refuse any form of been oppressed and trampled upon in the name of economic reform. Most Nigerians believed that as an oil producing nation the only benefit they enjoy, was the pump price of fuel which the people have always resisted when there is an attempt to increase it. In Nigeria, an increase in the price of petroleum products always result in a sky-rocketed increase in the cost of living, production, transportation, basic food and household products. This is due to the epileptic state of the power sector, which makes the people to generate power by using generators in both the formal and informal sector of the economy. The #18,000 basic minimum wages of workers, which the government said it would pay, is yet to be implemented. This the people see as a case of “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop”, because the allowances and basic salary of a political office holder is much higher than the total allowance of the King of Spain, President Obama of the United States (US).
During the Presidential election, President Good luck Jonathan came out with all forms of electoral slogan, such as I have no shoes as a child and trekked kilometers to get to school, Fresh Air, among others to sway the people into believing he would bring about an expected and transformational change. Most people voted for him as an individual but not for his party, the People Democratic Party (PDP), which is perceived as been an imposition party that imposes candidates on the people. After the election, the reverse has been the case.
For the Students in Higher Institution, the Universities have been in one form of industrial action or the other. During the election, the President was seen by the people as an educated man who was once a lecturer, and will be better positioned to restore the glory of Nigerian Universities to the days when they were rated among the best. But this has only been the case of “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. In Lagos State, the State Government exponentially increases the school fees and this was greeted by protest which led to the closure of the school.
With these and other inefficiencies in government going on in the country, the people have resolved to be united in Occupying Nigeria till there is a change and real change.