These protests are not just about being unable to afford fuel. People have had enough of wasteful and corrupt leadership
I remember watching Goodluck Jonathan’s speech at the start of his re-election campaign on 18 September, 2010. He promised change: “Let the word go out from this Eagle Square that Jonathan as president in 2011 will herald a new era of transformation of our country.” The canoe-carver’s son who became deputy governor, governor, vice-president and then president, without ever hustling for power, wowed us all with stories of his humble beginnings (a shoeless childhood, studying by the light of kerosene lanterns), his humility, and his seeming accessibility (via Facebook). But that was then.
Today he seems bent on recreating all the obstacles he faced all those decades ago; eager to ensure that as many Nigerians as possible study with lanterns and survive on a single meal a day. How is he doing this? By hurting the most vulnerable using one of the most ubiquitous items in the land: petrol.
A fuel price increase – and the associated increase in the price of commodities – has sparked nationwide #OccupyNigeria protests, driven largely by young people mobilising themselves via social media, mobile phones and word-of-mouth.
Nigeria is a crude-oil producing and exporting country, full of poor people – 70% of the population survives on less than $2 a day. These citizens consume more petrol than is necessary because Nigeria has consistently failed to produce enough electricity for its 150 million citizens (South Africa, with 50 million people, produces 10 times as much electricity as Nigeria), leaving much of the population dependent on petrol-guzzling Chinese generators to keep the lights on.It gets worse. …