Why Occupuynigeria May Fail.


”Young Nigerians rushed into protests, organized labour was unprepared for what hit it and there was no scale up of national economic shutdown because of ethnic divisions and improper coordination. This was the government’s game plan and like fools, the rest of society played its script’’

Adebayo Alonge

(Public Affairs Analyst)

On January 1, 2012, the Federal government of Nigeria removed fuel subsidies effectively causing a doubling in petrol price and the prices of transportation and food commodities. It did this after several months of declaring its intentions and while still in apparent consultations with relevant stakeholders.

Occupy Nigeria Prostests

(Protesters deface a portrait of Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan during a protest against a fuel subsidy removal in Lagos)

By January 2, youths in different parts of the country started to organize for almost spontaneous protests. These protests kicked off on the 3rd of January. Most of the groups of young people that went into the streets that week were members of variously labeled youth groups. They lacked national coordination, failed to move the government and worst of all sustained human losses. In retrospect, while having momentum, this energy went to waste because there was no national coordination or scale up. The pressure they exerted was of no effect.

Occupy Nigeria Prostests

(Protesters affiliated to organised labour in Lagsos)

Organized labour on its part went to sleep in the months it was allegedly in talks with the government. Perhaps the sweet talk and rich food served them by the government caused them to fail to make contingency plans. They were thus taken unawares when government after promising to remove the subsidies in March, did an ambush and removed it in the midst of national festivities. As a result, it took organized labour one week to organize itself for mass action; by which time, the momentum had been seized from it by young people, who were however unable to achieve critical mass. As a result at the start of the industrial action, the anger was no longer so keen and what should have made the government run out from Aso Rock, became a continuation of New Year celebrations-street rallies and sit-in carnivals entertained by musicians.

In the South-South and commercial areas of the South-East, ethnic and business considerations have assured that business is going on as usual. As a result, the Federal government is sitting very comfortable at a time it should be sweating.

(Members of Nigeria’s FEC banter at the council’s meeting n 04/01/2011)

As most of the barrels of oil from which it gets its revenue are derived from off-shore fields and since the on-going action has not stopped production from these fields, revenue is still pouring into its coffers, and the government no doubt is having a private laugh at the people as we saw from the banter at the Federal executive council meeting on 04/01/2012.

Also the fact that most elite in PDP controlled states are in support of the federal government means that the occupynigeria protests have failed to mobilize all classes of the Nigerian society. Even the opposition controlled states have been alleged to have tacitly asked for the subsidy removal so as to access more funds to their coffers. Now because of populist considerations, they publicly endorse the protesters. The question to ask though is, if they support the protests, why have they not joined the protesters in the streets.

The elite rich therefore feel, it is a fight between them and the poor. Citizens in the south –south feel it is them for their kinsman against other ethnic groups. The business men in the South-East feel it is them against the working class. As a result the whole society rather than uniting to confront the core issues of government insensitivity, prodigal spending and corruption have turned against one another. The government therefore is not feeling the heat.

(Lamido Sanusi, Governor Central Bank of Nigeria)

Another mistake of the occupynigeria protest is to assume that the government is composed of stupid people. In war, it is a big error to underestimate the enemy. In rushing into protests and in seeking to prepare the people for prolonged industrial action, occupynigeria alongside organized labour has failed to acknowledge the pedigree of the government. Even if we refuse to consider the credentials of other members of this government, at least no one can claim not to be awed by the credentials of the ministers in charge of the economy i.e. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Lamido Sanusi, and Segun Aganga. These people, no matter how vilified, are by no means, stupid. They must therefore have a game plan and contingency arrangements to handle the crisis they expected would follow their ambush action of removing subsidies on the first day of 2012.

As the government expected, young Nigerians rushed into protests, organized labour was unprepared for what hit it and there is no scale up of national economic shutdown because of ethnic divisions and improper coordination. This is the government’s game plan and like fools, the rest of society is playing its script.

( Nigerian security forces)

As part of its game plan, it has increased salaries of the military, back-dating it to September 2011 so as to quell any incentive to join the protests. It refused to change the heads of security agencies even in the face of their ineptitude and those of us who asked why then, now understand. It was preparing for these protests a long time ago and therefore could not risk doubting the loyalty of those in charge of its security forces.

(Anti fuelsubsidy removal protesters in Lagos)

Projecting into the future, I suspect that the government’s game plan would involve them reversing petrol price to N65/litre with the proviso, that they should be allowed to hands off subsidies as originally planned in April.  Weary protesters, organized labour and society will lash on to this and possibly see it as a victory. The government however will have won. It will be perceived as one that listens to its people by the international community and at the end will achieve its aim of removing the subsidies at its own schedule, which was planned originally for April.

If this happens the goals of the occupynigeria protests will have been unachieved. This is because the occupynigeria movement is asking for reform of government and by getting just a short-term reversal of petrol price will mean it has failed in reforming how the Nigerian government is run.

April 6 Youth Movement.jpg

(Logo of the 6 April Youth Movement that led the Egyptian revolution)

At the start of these protests, azeenarh.wordpress.com called for proper coordination among the different groups floating the occupynigeria banner. It appears nobody listened. The Egyptian revolution was spearheaded by the 6 April youth group and it took them 33 months to prepare for the start of the revolution that changed how government is run in Egypt. On Jan. 25, 2011, they saw the opportune moment and seized it. The mass support they obtained from all segments of the Egyptian society and the energies they exerted was backed by several months of planning. It took Hosni Mubarak by surprise. He could not divide and rule. He was on his own and stood no chance.

( Image of an opportunist)

Young opportunists today seize the occupynigeria platform so as to posture as youth leaders. They regard opposing views with disdain and have failed to build broad base of support for the movement they are trying to build. They think raw energy and force of numbers will get results. However without proper planning, coordination and understanding of the times, the aims of the movement may never be achieved.

Unfortunately, this may mean that the possibilities of reforming Nigeria peacefully in the near future may be lost with attendant negative consequence to the living standard of its people and their country’s continued existence.

 

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Why Occupuynigeria May Fail.”

  1. Memo to Nigerian youths:
    Mallam El Rufai has been riding the blogosphere and airwaves seeking to cash in on a spiraling revolt. It would be a grievous mistake for Nigerian youths to look up to the likes of El Rufai for leadership. He is part and parcel of why Nigeria is in the mess she is in today. In this case, the messenger is just as important as the message. El Rufai refuses to understand one word: CREDIBILITY. He has none. Powerful words are poor substitutes for character and credibility. Our youths are doing just fine without El Rufai. They don ‘t need to follow him, not even on Twitter.

  2. Adebayo Alonge article makes interesting reading. It however gives too much credit to the ruling few and labels the masses/general populaces/protesters as unlearned bandwagon of plebeians. You keep on talking about coordination, planning, organizing etc. Good as that is, what you see today is spontaneous reactions and outbursts against a coordinated, planned and organized rape on the people of this nation. I tell u that this kind is much more dangerous than any coordinated action. This is the same action which spurred the French Revolution and Russian Revolution and brought down the aristocracy which had been oppressing the masses. You are here dealing with unbridled anger which had simmered and smothered for so many years. People have bottled up their pain and anger for so long, and suddenly, ‘pop’ goes the lid. This kind of steam does not fizzle out, it is the kind that drives steam engines of huge ships against the battering waves of corruption and bad governance. The great ship, called Nigeria which is built to transverse great oceans and conquer mighty seas has been hijacked by a few pirates and bandits, run aground and marooned on the tiny Isle of Poverty. It is chained with wrought iron clasp of corruption to the rocks of lack, deficient intelligent in governance, infrastructural breakdown, naira devaluation, etc. MV Admiralty Nigeria is now at the mercy of BH torpedoes who strike at will. The vessel is taking in water and keeling to the side. We think we have a captain, but he is in cahoots with the brigands who have overrun us.
    Have you ever seen a steady build up of protesters and people at any such rally before, No, rather than wane, it is waxing stronger and stronger. In Lagos, even the NLC is not in charge again. Yet there is an unspoken uncoordinated coordination, an unseen hand guiding it all. Case in point: GEJ and PDP publicists spent millions of Naira on their campaign machinery to get a few artists and celebrities to brand his campaign. Who is coordinating or paying all these artists, showbiz pple, professionals, religious leaders etc, etc, who are falling over themselves to identify with OccupyNigeria?
    You are touting the credentials of the Okonjo Iweala, Lamido Sanusi and Aganga as if those can shield them from the anger of the people. Their intelligence becomes mere stupid wickedness in the face of their pride. Sheer peoples power, can never be underestimated. Peoples power, backed by right timing and fearless arrowheads, will create a critical mass, the required energy to dislodge MV Admiralty Nigeria from the rocks and get her sailing gallantly again. Fuel subsidy removal is just the tipping point. As MV Admiralty Nigeria steadies and all the gaping holes in her side are repaired and blocked, one by one, a people who have regained their voice and freedom, will intently and vigilantly start the process of rebuilding systems which will ensure that no brigand treads the captain’s chamber in Aso Rock again.
    Alonge, OccupyNigeria will not fail, has not failed. The fact that it has got this impact in a few days, enlightened millions of ordinary Nigerians on their rights, caused a social revolution in the psyche of the Nigerian, this is success already. Fuel subsidy removal aside, Nigeria will never forget this period in their history and generations to come will still be reaping the benefits of the sacrifices of the thousands of the patriots all over the nation today. NIGERIA WILL FLOURISH AGAIN, GOD WILL HEAL OUR LAND, RESTORE AGAIN, NIGERIA WILL FLORISH AGAIN!!!!
    Elsie Okulaja

  3. This is my response to the following article @ adebayoalonge.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/why-occupuynigeria-may-fail.
    By Elsie Okulaja
    Adebayo Alonge’s article makes interesting reading. It however gives too much credit to the ruling few and labels the masses/general populaces/protesters as unlearned bandwagon of plebeians. You keep on talking about coordination, planning, organizing etc. Good as that is, what you see today is spontaneous reactions and outbursts against   a coordinated, planned and organized rape on the people of this nation. I tell u that this kind is much more dangerous than any coordinated action. This is the same action which spurred the French Revolution and Russian Revolution   and brought down the aristocracy which had been oppressing the masses.  You are here dealing with unbridled anger which had simmered and smothered for so many years. People have bottled up their pain and anger for so long, and suddenly, ‘pop’ goes the lid. This kind of steam does not fizzle out, it is the kind that drives steam engines of huge ships against the battering waves of corruption and bad governance. The great ship, called Nigeria which is built to transverse great oceans and conquer mighty seas has been hijacked by a few pirates and bandits, run aground and marooned on the tiny Isle of Poverty. It is chained with wrought iron clasp of corruption to the rocks of lack, deficient intelligent in governance, infrastructural breakdown, naira devaluation, etc.  MV Admiralty Nigeria is now at the mercy of BH torpedoes who strike at will. The vessel is taking in water and keeling to the side. We think we have a captain, but he is in cahoots with the brigands who have overrun us.

    Have you ever seen a steady build up of protesters and people at any such rally before, No,  rather  than wane, it is waxing stronger and stronger. In Lagos, even the NLC is not in charge again. Yet there is an unspoken uncoordinated coordination, an unseen hand guiding it all. Case in point: GEJ and PDP publicists spent millions of Naira on their campaign machinery to get a few artists and celebrities to brand his campaign. Who is coordinating or paying all these artists, showbiz pple, professionals, religious leaders etc, etc, who are falling over themselves to identify with OccupyNigeria?

    You are touting the credentials of the Okonjo Iweala, Lamido Sanusi and Aganga as if those can shield them from the anger of the people.  Their intelligence becomes mere stupid wickedness in the face of their pride. Sheer peoples power, can never be underestimated. Peoples power, backed by right timing and fearless arrowheads, will create a critical mass, the required energy to dislodge MV Admiralty Nigeria from the rocks and get her sailing gallantly again. Fuel subsidy removal is just the tipping point. As MV Admiralty Nigeria steadies and all the gaping holes in her side are repaired and blocked, one by one, a people who have regained their voice and freedom, will intently and vigilantly start the process of rebuilding systems which will ensure that no brigand treads the captain’s chamber in Aso Rock again.

    Alonge, OccupyNigeria will not fail, has not failed. The fact that it has got this impact in a few days, enlightened millions of ordinary Nigerians on their rights, caused a social revolution in the psyche of the Nigerian, this is success already. Fuel subsidy removal  aside, Nigeria will never forget this period in their history and generations to come will still be reaping the benefits of the sacrifices of the thousands of the patriots all over the nation today.

    NIGERIA WILL FLOURISH AGAIN, GOD WILL HEAL OUR LAND, RESTORE AGAIN, NIGERIA WILL FLORISH AGAIN!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s