Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Occupy Nigeria: we're not done yet

I followed the unfolding events of the fuel subsidy strike this past 10 days mostly on TV. I watched aghast as a protester was manhandled then shot in front of other protesters in broad daylight (RIP). I listened to pro subsidy debates on the government sponsored media NTA and I wondered if the debaters were aliens from some neighbouring WA country.
I saw my respected friends doctors, bankers, take off their suits, don Tee shirts and walk on the streets protesting our corrupt government, Nigerians became mathematicians again challenging GEJ’s fuel prices/subsidy calculations in a manner which would have impressed Chike Obi,  I saw courage which I thought had almost died, I heard young promising youth tell the nation that they were willing to die. I watched protesters cry, moan, pray, dance, laugh in unity for the first time in a long while. And it was beautiful.

Nigerians are finally waking up.

I was hopeful that we would get ‘satisfactory results’. Then NLC happened and the rug was swept from under our feet.

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress said they acted to save lives, after receiving information that the security forces had been ordered to use all means to end protests.
Really? They got a reduction to N97 per litre and a pat on the back and they sold the future of 160m Nigerians. I’m pained.
The unions also told journalists in Nigeria's capital Abuja that they applauded the government's recent promise to EXPLORE CORRUPTION in the country's oil sector. They described the six-day strike as "a success".
"We are sure that no government or institution will take Nigerians for granted again," said Abdulwaheed Omar, the NLC president.

Rightfully said but with all due respect Mr. Omar, you missed the point. ‘Explore corruption’ is the government’s polite euphemism for "Shut up retard" and you did….shut up I mean.
Occupy Nigeria is not just about the fuel hike as President Goodluck would like to believe. It is about lying thieving politicians blatantly stealing Nigeria blind.

Occupy Nigeria was not inspired by the rallying call of NLC but by young Nigerians who were fed up of same old, same old. Nigerians who would normally wait out a strike watching movies in the comfort of their homes. The NLC had the crème of workers and youth ON THE STREETS for the first time. Don’t the understand what power they had? How can they blow such an opportunity?!

But it’s not over.

Seeing Gbenga Sesan, Omohyele Sowore of Sahara reporters interviewed on Al Jazeera etc has shown me that in this social media age, where governments try to control news emerging from their Countries, media houses in search of truth now  seek for credibility from bloggers and activists. Our senators salaries, GEJ’s home maintenance budget would probably never have seen the light of day in our dailies if bloggers/twitter users hadn’t made it trend. That information was the tipping point for many who joined the protest. (And of course the new reality of sweating in a ride through Lagos traffic - Sorry @tilola - because car air conditioning is now a luxury).

In this year 2012, we owe it to ourselves and our children to make Nigeria the country we want it to be. Yes, our blogs are personal spaces themed on fun things like fashion, food, relationships etc. but I think it is high time we see our blogs to be much much more. For the sake of Nigeria, let us be more concerned about what goes on in our country. Let us not be scared of making our collective voices heard.

A shoutout to Adura Ojo of Naijalines for her rallying call to Nigerian bloggers during the protest. And to Prism who kept up with almost daily updates.
I applaud all those who stepped out of their blog comfort zones to blog about Nigeria and engage on other social media sites but most especially to those who walked the talk.
Protests may have been silenced for now but it is not over yet. I leave you with Fela Durotoye’s wordsThe dream of a New Nigeria as a most desirable society remains firm in our hearts. We are stronger than this. We will not be broken. We are the New Nigeria and we will not stop until we Deliver the Future.  

Protests: What was done well and what could have been done better?

12 comments:

  1. I was weak when NLC called off the strike..it just did not make any sense...walahi, those people are retards.

    Welcome to the new Nigeria, yes the road is long and hard but we shall surely get the Nigeria of our dreams. If not us then our children.

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  2. What could have been done better was being clear on demands right from get go. As it was, the real call against corruption was lost in the NLC protest of subsidy removal.

    I have always gone with the second part of Durotoye's article. One-off activism is good but pales when standing next to the stronger option of long term participatory democracy. Young people should either go into politics or keep their reps on their toes by being involved at the grassroots.

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  3. I really hope to see the country of Nigeria realize its potential in my lifetime. It could and should be a great nation for great people.

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  4. I really hope to see the country of Nigeria realize its potential in my lifetime. It could and should be a great nation for great people.

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  5. I agree with Myne on this fully.

    My thinking is also that if we are to have the change we want in leadership, it's not enough to wait till 2015 so that we can vote the right leaders. What if it's the same old people recycled again? We can't keep picking from them. That means we the youth should start now. If we could rally people for the protests, we can start developing leaders and rally people to vote for them come 2015. It may not necessarily be in govt or presidency but as Myne pointed out,in the grassroots. that doesn't mean we should be silent on other matters now, but it does mean we should do this alongside speaking out against corruption and the likes.

    That said, I hear there are two more rallies from SNG this week. I hope they make it clear what their mandate is so that it's not just another protest.

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  6. I forgot to say, what was done well was the unity of the people. I wish Nigerians can be united more often and not just in matters that affect them directly (e.g. fuel subsidy cos it affects everyone) but matters that affect others as well (e.g. Boko Haram affecting mostly those in the North). But we'll get there I hope. gradually and steadily

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  7. @Ginger, I couldn't agree more with you. In my opinion the protesters were very clear about their demands. I believe the subsidy strike was just a trigger for people to protest about corruption and bad governance.

    For me your following comments stood out:
    "In this year 2012, we owe it to ourselves and our children to make Nigeria the country we want it to be. Yes, our blogs are personal spaces themed on fun things like fashion, food, relationships etc. but I think it is high time we see our blogs to be much much more. For the sake of Nigeria, let us be more concerned about what goes on in our country. Let us not be scared of making our collective voices heard."

    I do believe we could do more as bloggers because we have a very powerful medium and responsibility. However, we also have to respect opposing views or apathy where they exist. But for me the bottom line is that we can't on one hand hope and pray for a better Nigeria but we do nothing about it. Waiting for all conditions to be 'perfect' before joining what I consider a legitimate protest doesn't do it for me.

    Nigeria's destiny is in our hands, whether we are young, old, live in Nigeria or abroad, it is a collective responsibility. It is not the responsibility of those in Nigeria alone or young people.

    I am very proud to have added my voice to the campaign and will continue to blog about socio-political issues concerning Nigeria, which is why I started blogging in the first place. I believe there's hope,despite the disappointment the protest didn't go the distance. For once our people stood up for what is right and that has signalled a new awakening.

    Sorry for the long epistle, just wanted to get my point across.

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  8. Loool. GEJ cannot now make me live below a certain standard jooo.

    All I can say now is that we gotta wake up for 2015 ooo. Enough is enough

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  9. Hopefully it's seeded in the minds of us all just how much we can achieve if we come together as a collective on any issue... Small, but tangible first steps...

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  10. I love your voice. Keep speaking as loudly as you can!

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  11. Thanks for the mention, dear. I thought I had already left a comment oh! The campaign should be kept alive and kicking...I think Nigerians in diaspora can do a lot more to raise awareness - particularly online.

    I see a lot of influential Nigerians in diaspora including those with popular online personalities living in their glass towers and pretending "Occupy Nigeria" does not affect them. IT STINKS! How quickly people forget their roots!

    Do Nigerians have to suffer for the next 18 years, descend into the destruction of a civil war (by latest 2030 - as predicted by a US think tank) with people killed in their millions before people decide that it is time to take poverty and injustice in Nigeria seriously? Does it have to happen in one's backyard or is it when people no longer have money to send home or when the money is no longer enough that these selfish people now feel the pinch to speak out?

    This rant is particularly directed at inactive and insensitive Nigerian Diasporans. They know themselves. I can understand the reservations of our people in Nigeria. Silence can't be excused abroad as there are laws here to protect people. Besides, there are people in Nigeria still speaking out, so silent diasporans, what is your excuse?

    Sorry for the rant, Ginger, but it has to be said. We can make a difference to the stifled voices back home.

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  12. And thank you ginger, for all your good work on the protest. We are a minority praying to be the majority in this corner of cyberspace. In the mean time, the beat goes on and our voices would be as loud as ever.

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