Occupy Nigeria

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Occupy Nigeria
Protesters at Ojota, Lagos
Date 2 January 2012 (2012-01-02) – present
(2 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 1 day)
Location Nigeria
Causes
  • Removal of subsidy on Petroleum products
  • 120% increase in the price of Petrol
  • corruption in Government & public service
  • Inhuman treatment of Nigerians by Government & Security agents
  • High rate of poverty
Goals
  • Reversing the Removal of subsidy on petroleum products
  • Federal Government budget review (Cut-backs on politician allowances)
Methods
Status Ongoing as of 24 April 2014
Casualties
Death(s) 16 (Lagos, Maiduguri, Ilorin and Gusau; All shot by the Nigeria Police Force)[1][2][3]
The location of Nigeria, on the African continent

Occupy Nigeria was a socio-political protest movement that began in Nigeria on Monday, 2 January 2012 in response to the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government of President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday, 1 January 2012. Protests took place across the country, including in the cities of Kano, Ojota ( -part of greater Lagos ), Abuja, and at the Nigerian High Commission in London. At least 16 people were killed in Nigeria, all shot dead by the Nigeria Police Force. The protests have been characterised by civil disobedience, civil resistance, strike actions, demonstrations and online activism. The use of social media services such as Twitter and Facebook has been a prominent feature.

As of June 2012, Occupy Nigeria had continued to engage in organized meetings, events and actions.[4]

Background[edit]

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer, but still imports refined petrol.[5] The country produces about 2.4 million barrels of crude oil daily which is exported to be refined abroad; however due to years of corruption-fueled neglect the domestic refineries are inoperative.[6] As a consequence, Nigeria imports 70% of its gasoline (about 250,000bpd of petroleum products[citation needed]) into the country for sale to its citizens.[6] The price of petrol has increased from 65 naira ($0.40; £0.26) per litre to at least 141 naira in filling stations[6] and from 100 naira to at least 200 naira on the black market, from which many Nigerians buy their fuel.

With the majority of Nigerians living on less than $2 per day,[5] cheap petrol is viewed by many Nigerians as the only tangible benefit they receive from the state, hence the widespread disapproval. In addition, the economy is heavily reliant on crude oil (amongst other reasons,due to absence of essential infrastructure and services such as constant electricity). A consequence of this is that other seemingly unrelated items are tied to the price of fuel as has occurred from previous price hikes. Due to the absence of stable electricity, gasoline generators are a common energy alternative for small businesses and residences.

With each hike, there is a commensurate rise in the cost of production of goods and services which would be transferred on to the consumers, leading to widespread inflation. Unfortunately, even when fuel price hikes were reversed in the past, the increase in the cost of goods and services (inflationary reaction) remained.

The removal of the subsidy took effect from Sunday, 1 January 2012 as announced by the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA Reginald Stanley.

Protests[edit]

Protesters shut petrol stations and formed human barriers along motorways. Nigeria's main trade unions have also announced an indefinite strike and mass demonstrations from Monday, 9 January 2012 unless the removal of a fuel subsidy is reversed. "We have the total backing of all Nigerian workers on this strike and mass protest," the Nigeria Labour Congress's Chris Uyot told the BBC.[7]

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Lamido Sanusi told the BBC the subsidy (which he said cost the government about $8bn last year) was "unsustainable".[8] Several previous governments have tried to remove the subsidy but have backed down in the face of widespread public protests and reduced it instead.[7]

While there is agreement in some quarters that the subsidy might eventually need to be removed, protesters believe the time is not right for such a drastic move as the average citizen's income is a pittance (Nigeria's monthly minimum wage was recently increased to 18,000 naira or around $110) and this is the only benefit the common man gets from the government. The minimum wage has still not been implemented across many states in the country. Based on this, it would be an unsound economic policy to use the prices charged by some foreign countries as a guide to setting the price in Nigeria as their GDP and other economic indices is not comparable to Nigeria's own, especially as Nigeria is a petroleum producing country and should therefore enjoy the benefit.

In addition, there is widespread indignation by the people that the government has not provided the basic amenities which they should have provided in the first place but rather mismanaged and enriched themselves with the available resources. They therefore believe that the additional income generated by the subsidy removal would be used to line the same corrupt leaders pockets.

It is claimed that the Government of Nigeria has always budgeted enough resources for the comfort of its officials, while disregarding that of the people. The supposed flagrant disregard for the people's welfare by removal of the fuel subsidy without putting in place programs to cushion the effect, coupled with the fact that they (government) have not led by example in sacrificing their huge salaries and allowances (which is further claimed to be the highest in the world), has necessitated the Occupy Nigeria protests.

In other quarters however, there is a belief that there was no fuel subsidy in the first place as a former Petroleum Minister, Professor Tam David-West,claimed that the previous pump price of 65 naira was actually higher than the cost price of 40.02 naira (including tax and other real costs) and the supposed subsidy was a bogus claim by the government.

There is yet another unsubstantiated claim in some quarters that the current travails in the country (including the Boko Haram security incidents) are a deliberate plot by a cabal who are set to make the country ungovernable for the current president due to their candidate in the last election, General Muhammadu Buhari, losing in the election. Proponents of this claim further state that President Goodluck Jonathan is only a stooge who is powerless to make real decisions especially as members of this cabal are in the presidency itself and there might even be some foreign involvement from some Western powers. Other's claim that the cabal's intent is not to destabilize the political system (in which case they are separate from those sponsoring the Boko Haram security incidents), but to make profit at the expense of the masses, hence removal of the subsidy.

“The prices of everything will increase – transport, housing, school fees, food, etc. The common man will not be able to survive.” said Ganiat Fawehinmi, widow of the late human rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi.

Jonathan has shown that he can’t be trusted,” Issa Aremu, NLC vice president, told demonstrators. “He said he was engaging in dialogue and all of a sudden, he increased the price!"

In the meantime however, protests are gathering momentum, with protests starting in Abuja and Lagos on 2 January and the rest of the nation catching the grip on the second day as Kaduna, Kano, Ibadan took over. Continued protests surfaced at Ibadan, Ilorin, Kebbi, Gusau and a host of other states across the nation. Meanwhile, there were claims that some protesters were shot at by policemen in Kano at midnight. It was claimed that the uniformed men ambushed them while undergoing peaceful demonstrations and shot at the protesters. With this, the protesters reportedly dispersed only to reconvene at another venue as they vowed to pass the night protesting.

Celebrities like Banky W, Funmi Iyanda, Seun Kuti, Raskimono, 9ice, Dede Mabiaku, Eedris Abdulkareem and others have been at the forefront of #OccupyLagos, as the protests have been referred to in the nation's former capital, Lagos.

The south-eastern part of Nigeria comprises the South-East and the South-South geo-political zones. The zones in this region have however been calm about the protests and no protests have been reported in such parts of the country, the reverse is the case in most areas of the western and northern parts of the country.

Product pricing[edit]

The table below shows the PMS price per litre compared to the minimum wage of other OPEC Countries.[9]

OPEC Member PMS Price/Litre Minimum Wage Population Production '000 bPD (2007)
Venezuela 3.61 Nigerian naira 95,639 Nigerian naira 29,105,632 2,340
Kuwait 34.54 Nigerian naira 161,461 Nigerian naira 3,566,437 2,340
Saudi Arabia 25.12 Nigerian naira 99,237 Nigerian naira 27,136,977 9,800
Iran 102.05 Nigerian naira 86,585 Nigerian naira 75,330,000 3,700
Qatar 34.54 Nigerian naira 101,250 Nigerian naira 1,696,563 810
UAE 78.18 Nigerian naira 8,264,070 2,500
Algeria 63.55 Nigerian naira 55,957 Nigerian naira 36,423,000 1,360
Libya 26.69 Nigerian naira 23,813 Nigerian naira 5,670,688 1,650
Iraq 59.66 Nigerian naira 25,813 Nigerian naira 30,399,572 1,481
Nigeria 97.00 Nigerian naira 18,000 Nigerian naira 167 million 2,250

As of 28 January 2012 the exchange rate was:- 1 United States dollar = 160.9561 Nigerian naira

Casualties[edit]

Muyideen Mustapha, 23, was reportedly the first person to be killed during the nationwide protests over the lifting of petrol subsidies. He was reportedly shot by the Nigerian Police Force in Ilorin, Kwara State on 3 January 2012. The Police denied the report saying that he had been stabbed by other protestors for not joining in the protest. Muyideen was buried on Wednesday 4 January 2012, according to Islamic rites.[10][11]

There have been further reports of one[12] to three[13] people being killed by clashes between police and protesters on 9 January.

On 9 January, a Divisional Police Officer attached to the Lagos State Command, shot and killed a young man, Ademola Aderinde at Ogba during the protests in Lagos. The officer was arrested on the order of the Commissioner of Police and is expected to be charged with murder following an investigation.[14]

Abuja & London protests[edit]

The Occupy Nigeria Movement plans another protest to hold at Eagle Square, Abuja for Friday, 6 January 2012 while another one hold simultaneous at the Nigerian Embassy in London. However, leaks from security agencies report of an order issued by the Government of Nigeria to the Mobile Police, advising them that the best way to stop the protests is to kill at least one of the protesters.[15] Organizers of the peaceful protest are trying to call the attention of the whole world to the premeditated crime against humanity which the Government of Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan is about to perpetrate.

International protests[edit]

Occupy Nigeria protesters in New York City

The Occupy Nigeria protests have also occurred in other countries to show solidarity with what the plight of Nigerians back home. The first one was held at the Nigerian High Commission in London on 6 January 2012, followed by another at the World bank complex in Washington D.C on 9 January. 2012. Other countries like Belgium (-in Brussels its capital), and South Africa joined the protests and occupied the Nigerian embassy in their countries in the second week of January 2012

NLC/TUC[edit]

On Thursday, 5 January 2012, the Nigeria Labour Congress issued an ultimatum to the Federal Government promising to halt the economy of the country by Monday, 9 January 2012.

"We are shutting down the Nigerian airspace to local and international flights from Sunday night" said Denja Yakub of NLC.

"If a revolution will solve our problems, why not, what is going on already shows that our people are prepared for a revolution. "But we will not ask for a revolution that will bring back the military, they are a part of the problem." he added[citation needed]

Government reaction[edit]

Following the emergency meeting of the Federal Executive Council, in Abuja, the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, told newsmen the government was not oblivious of the pains inflicted by Nigerians as a result of the new policy. In order to ameliorate those pains, he said the government had commenced a ‘massive mass transit scheme’ aimed at cushioning the effects of the subsidy removal on transportation. 1600 diesel-powered mass transit vehicles, he claimed, would be distributed.

Curiously missing at the pivotal meeting were two controversial senior officials and pillars of the new policy: Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is quoted as having said that she'll resign if the presidency goes back on its decision to remove the subsidy.

Media[edit]

It is claimed that the State media; Nigerian Television Authority NTA refused to acknowledge the protest and is falsely reporting the entire Nigerian populace have accepted the increase in fuel price and are going about their businesses. It was further claimed that the Federal Government has reportedly ordered the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission to warn media houses to stop any broadcasts about the protests.

Channels Television and Galaxy Television, two local mediahouses in Lagos, covered the Lagos protests on 3 January 2012. There was also a report on the march in the Daily Times of Nigeria.[16]

In addition, Facebook group pages were created to spur Nigerians globally against the fuel-subsidy removal regime. One of them (called "Nationwide Anti-Fuel Subsidy Removal: Strategies & Protests") which was created on 2 January 2012 has over 20,000 members by 9 January 2012 and still growing.[17] Student websites in universities and blogs[18] are reporting the Occupy Nigeria Protests and student representatives are sending live pictures of ongoing protests.

Twitter is also being extensively used as a connecting platform for the protesters across the nation, and the world.

The 2012 documentary Fuelling Poverty by Ishaya Bako was based on some of the events that occurred during the fuel subsidy crisis. It was banned by the Federal government of Nigeria for being “highly provocative and likely to incite or encourage public disorder and undermine national security.”. It went on to win category Best Documentary at the 2013 Africa Movie Academy Awards. and was praised by many Human Right activists and organisations.[19][20][21][22]

Jonathan administration[edit]

Goodluck Jonathan at the Nuclear Security Summit 2010
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo (Brasilia 6 September 2005)

It still is a mystery how the cost of subsidy shot up to 1.3 trillion naira in just one year of President Goodluck Jonathan's administration, especially since ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration spent 300 billion Naira per year. When the Obasanjo government left power in May 29, 2007, the country was no longer in debt and the 30 billion dollar foreign debt that Obasanjo met when he came to power in 1999 was fully paid off. Today, under the administration of Jonathan, the country owes debt to the tune of 30 billion dollars and is still borrowing. What baffles Nigerians is that in the midst of these, the leadership had mischievously gone ahead to share some huge funds in the name of Excess Crude revenue when it should have stored it up for the coming year Foreign reserves have been depleted from 80 billion dollars during the Obasanjo administration to 33 billion dollars under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

It was reported that when the Obasanjo administration left power in 2007, 23 billion dollars was left in the Excess Crude Account after he built it up from nothing in 1999; by January 2012 the account was empty because the money has been "squandered and the account scrapped".[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Protesters killed in Occupy Nigeria uprising". at IndyMedia, 11 January 2011
  2. ^ "Protesters killed by Police in Occupy Nigeria at Ogba". at Sturvs, 11 January 2011
  3. ^ "Protesters killed in Occupy Nigeria uprising". at VOANews, 11 January 2011
  4. ^ "Occupy Nigeria Facebook page". Facebook.com. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Ohuocha, Chijioke (9 January 2012). "Nigeria fuel protests turn violent, two killed". reuters.com. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Busari, Stephanie (9 January 2012). "What is behind Nigeria fuel protests? - CNN.com". cnn.com. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "BBC News – Nigeria fuel subsidy: Unions announce indefinite strike". bbc.co.uk. 4 January 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Nigeria bank boss Sanusi defends fuel subsidy removal". BBC News. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "This is why we need to fight this fuel hike...". Linda Ikeji's Blog. 5 January 2012. 
  10. ^ Jimoh, Adekunle (6 January 2012). "Who killed Citizen Opobiyi?". thenationonlineng.net. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  11. ^ Shittu, Hammed (5 January 2012). "Fuel Protester Killed 3 Days after Graduation". thisdaylive.com. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  12. ^ Shelbourne, Nigel (2012). "Riot police fire on fuel protesters". theaustralianeye.com. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Parker, Gillian (9 January 2012). "Nigeria Paralyzed by 'Occupy' Strike over Gas Prices". Time Magazine. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "DPO Arrested for Killing Protester". thisdaylive.com. 10 January 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Security report: "KILL AT LEAST ONE PROTESTER" is the secret order". OMOJUWA.COM. 5 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "#OccupyLagos". Daily Times NG. 8 January 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Occupy Naija". Facebook. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  18. ^ "OCCUPY NIGERIA: HISTORY IN THE MAKING". Abusites. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "Fueling Poverty Documentary Nigeria". Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "Nigeria Corruption goes viral after Fueling Poverty documentary". Premium Times. April 5, 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  21. ^ "Fueling Poverty Documentary about fuel subsidy fraud". Sahara Reporters. December 3, 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  22. ^ "We have nothing else to sacrifice- Ishaya Bako". BellaNaija. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  23. ^ Fani-Kayode, Femi (4 January 2012). "Who Will Deliver Us From This Goodluck? - ModernGhana.com". modernghana.com. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]