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Jan 16

Occupy Nigeria Protests: Hits and Misses

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?

2 comments

  1. Abimbola Omiyale

    you could not have put it any better. i dont think GEJ is in charge of this country. i think the problem really arose when civil society groups outsourced their negotiating power to the NLC/TUC. historically the NLC has always been known to sell out so i am not too surprised. then GEJ has really shown that he does not have the brains to rule this country with his arrogant display of military force in lagos. those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable …John F Kennedy.

  2. Dr Gbenga Adebayo

    A reader sent this to me:

    Disagree with the verdict on NLC

    He who fights and knows when to step away always lives to fight another day

    Are you wishing for NLC to ask the people to fight the Military?

    In a democracy the next steps should be to mobilize the opposition to get the traitor out of his office in the next election
    as GEJ has shown fully his true authoritarian self

    Happy New Year.

    Deploying the military in my opinion betrayed the level of fear GEJ administration had about the potency of the largely peacful protests and the momentum that was being built. That was a strategic advantage that NLC threw away by calling of the stikes. I would not advocate them to ask people to fight the military. That would be madness and woulld have resulted in a massacre. They should have continued with their sit at home order. Given time, government would have caved in.

    Also most commmentaries now show the vast majority of people and groups (even some state branches of NLC) view the cave in as a sell-out. If that is true or not is not really the issue now. But the NLC/TUC leadership threw away a strategic advantage in my opinion and hence were Losers in this impasse.

    Thanks for dropping in your view. Appreciate it.

    Best regards

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