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#OccupyNigeria: Why I am protesting

Each time I make it known that I have been “occupying Nigeria” at the Gani Fawehinmi square, Ojota, Lagos, friends and family first question my safety, give me kudos, then, ask me why? A friend even went on to ask me, “You no get work?” (Don't you have anything better to do?)

No, I no get work. In case you have not noticed, there is currently a strike action in the country. To occupy Nigeria is now my work. And on days I cannot be there, I will make my presence felt via the avenues I have. I will speak about it amongst my neighbours and on the phone to friends. I will blog about it. I will post about it on Twitter and Facebook. Yes o! Occupy Nigeria is my new job.

Why? Because this is my country and the selfishness of my leaders has affected me adversely.

A Facebook friend decried the #occupynigeria protests. In his humble opinion which I shall surmarise here, rather than protest, we should double our hard work. Dear friend, I can tell you about how hard I have worked. I could write an epistle on how thanks to the influence of the United States and its assumed benefits of meritocracy we have come to believe that the more certificates we acquire the better our lives will be. Or if we branch out as entrepreneurs or are entertainers we are sure to succeed. Even in the US, the land of opportunity, this is only true for a minority. Only few are able to make it big via hard work while the rest have to depend on the government’s welfare. Alas, in Nigeria we do not have such welfare packages from our government.

Apart from the “assumed subsidy”, our government does little or nothing to better the daily lives of its people. When they refused to provide stable electricity, we started to import generators. No water, we dug boreholes even in the arid North were the water wells can be as deep as the length of the average close in Festac. No roads, the richest man in the village tars the one in front of his house and sometimes the central one in the village too. Transportation is provided by private citizens for profit.

In defence of the fuel subsidy removal, Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Allison Madueke has said that the “trillions” recovered will be applied to complete projects that would benefit Nigerians as a whole. Such as repairing roads and revamping the rail systems.

What happened to the billions already allocated to such projects while the subsidy was still in place? If they failed to achieve anything while they had billions, what is the guarantee that all this will be achieved with trillions and meanwhile the billions are still circulating?

If it is hard work and effort, we have made it. Nigerians are one of the most optimistic people in the world. We are also one of the most long-suffering. The worst part is we continually birth children into this failed system.
When I was child, my father always said, “Times are hard”. I started to “reason” when General Babangida was in power and one of the first words that I learnt away from school was “austerity”.

“Daddy, why can’t we eat cornflakes anymore?”

“Austerity.”

Austerity was to blame for all the extras we could no longer afford as a struggling lower middle-class family then the Structural Adjustment Programme aka SAP.

My father would let me know that the best way to get myself out of this situation of “times are hard” and not subject my children to the same phrase was to be well-educated.
I could give you a long list of all the certificates I have acquired since then but it would make no sense because with the way things are going and the selfish-mentality our people possess once they become leaders, it is almost inevitable that I shall repeat the same phrase to my unborn children.
I refuse to be subjected to such a future when I have the chance to make a change, to be part of a struggle that will bring about real and not assumed change for the better.

Now please ask me again, why I support the strike or why I go to Ojota every day? It is personal, dammit!!!

Comments

Osai's picture

Re: #OccupyNigeria

Very nice post Onyinye. I feel your passion, your anger and most importantly the sensitivity you bring to the protests we are experiencing in Nigeria. It is incomprehensible the wealth that has been so mismanaged and the neglect of industries, infrastructure and social services for ordinary people. Enough is truly enough and we pray this time, we do not take 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Forward ever backwards never.

It so true. I got that line from my parents too. Work hard, go to school, get your degree/certificate, you'll succeed. Well..you know what reality bites. Opportunities in the 60s & 70s are different in the 00's & 21st century. You need to know the right people, be in the right place at the right time. But disgustingly, the order of the day seems to be that you have to be in the right 'cabal' or corruption ring. Not good. Still some of us survive and we shall continue to survive with our honest sweat.

The personal is political and the political is personal. When we complain and raise our voices, we assert our rights as human beings. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but you are part of a movement and I respect you for your choices.
Well done!

Best wishes,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

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