Society Magazine

Occupy Nigeria Protests: Hits and Misses

Posted on the 16 January 2012 by Dr Gbenga Adebayo @dradebayo

Occupy NigeriaFirst a very Happy New Year to you. Great to be back to blogging! May all your breams and aspirations come to pass this year in Jesus name. Amen!

After 6 working days of sustained nationwide strikes and street protests in Nigeria, the Labour movement caved in today and “suspended” their strike action. Here is my take on the various actors and their hits (positive actions) and misses (negative actions):

The Judiciary

Hits Misses

  • None to note
  • The Industrial Court played the villain in granting the Federal Government anf injuction preventing the labout unions from embarking on a strike.
  • Through the registrar of the court, seeing that the injunction was not obeyedThe Industrial Court Furiously tried to defend the “undefendable” saying the injunction was to prevent development of “anarchy” and didn’t stop civil society from protesting.

 

My Verdict: Loser

 

The Federal Government

 

Hits

Misses

  • Has succeeded in increasing the pump price of petrol  from N65 to N97
  • Succeeded in pummelling Labour into submission
  • Succeeded in getting it’s way (for now) without making any big concessions
  • Deceived the people telling them subsidy would be removed in April
  • Misread the mood of the people and “bombed” them with a New Year gift of fuel price increases believing protests will be a whimper.
  • Appeared unprepared for the level of protests and unrest following the increases
  • Unleashed the military against unarmed peaceful protesters in a democracy
  • Invaded local bureau of International News Agencies (CNN & BBC)
  • Acknowledged that all the might of the Federal Government of Nigeria is unable to protect the borders of this Nation from fuel smugglers ( and in extension: thief, gunrunners, terrorists etc)

 

My Verdict: Reeling but winning the spin war

 

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

 

Hits

Misses

  • Attempted to appear considerate with offer to reduce basic salaries of politicians by 25% (came across as feeble seeing that the issue is not the salary of politicians, but the vast allowances they give themselves coupled with corruption. But still a positive development)
  • Appeared not in charge of the situation but rather a “puppet” of a cabal of ministers and others interests.
  • In his second press conference announcing the N97 price, he kept using the phrase “government” has this or that. Makes one wonder who made the decision? Who is government? Is he not the Leader of the nation?
  • Has fully squandered all the goodwill and benefit-of doubt he had with many neutral people.

 

My Verdict: Loser

 

State Governors

 

Hits

Misses

  • Succeeded in deflecting the anger of the increase from themselves to the federal government even though they were full and active actors in engineering the fuel price increase
  •  Succeeded in getting more revenues to spend
  • None of note

 

My Verdict: Winners

 

The Labour Movement (NLC/TUC)

 

Hits

Misses

  • Succeeded in mobilizing biggest strike in recent memory
  • Gave up just when government was appearing desperate and cornered (deploying troops showed such fear).
  • Appear like turncoats and traitors with the appearance of some unflattering pictures with the finance minister online.

 

My Verdict: Losers

 

The Legislature

 

Hits

Misses

  • Passed resolutions asking government to revert to N65
  • Went MIA
  • Senate President, Speaker of House of Reps became negotiators on behalf of the FG.

 

My Verdict: Noisemakers

 

Opposition Parties

 

Hits

Misses

  • Succeeded in infiltrating the protests and seeding their talking points into the discussion
  • Failed to fully maximize the platform created by the crisis to voice their own alternate plans for the petroleum sector
  • In my view all former aspirants failed to step up and seize the moment by expounding their own views for the nation

 

My Verdict: Losing

 

Civil Society Groups

 

Hits

Misses

  • Succeeded in mobilizing even before Labour began their strike action.
  • Succeeded in expanding the discussion from just fuel subsidy to the cost of governance and corruption.
  • Succeeded in building momentum for the protests day after day.
  • Innovative about the mode and manner of their mass protests
  • Largely peaceful protests
  • Allowed infiltration by political special interests into their midst.
  • Too dependent on Labour (NLC/TUC) to maintain cohesion and momentum

 

My Verdict: Verdict is not yet in. To be revealed in the next few days.

 

The Nigerian Masses

 

Hits

Misses

  • Finally many Nigerians shook off their lethargy and protested against leaders who are meant to be serving them
  • As usual, many Nigerians are happy that at least it is now N97 and better than N147. “E go better” syndrome kicking in again

 

My Verdicts: The Victims

 

There you have it. My Take on Occupy Nigeria fuel subsidy protests. What do you think?


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