Sometimes, It Really Gets Confusing
Everybody is talking.
Some people are shouting. Others are carrying placards and others are burning tires. Some are writing articles. Others are on the TV setting out analysis. At least, one person is dead. Why all the noise?
The president says we are hoodlums. The protesters say they are educated folks. Frankly, you probably don’t care either way. There are more important things you have to worry about. You have a stomachache. Your lousy boss is has been testy all week. Your final exams are just around the corner. Your wife is nagging you more than ever. Your child is sick. Your husband is cheating on you. I understand. These are serious issues. Everything else is just noisemaking. If the President wants to increase the price of fuel, it’s his business. Afterall, this will not be the first time it has been increased.
But this is not just about fuel price hike. Forget what the newspapers say. Most of them are ignorant. This is about life. Life in Nigeria. You see, all of your issues, one way or the other, are connected to this country. They will get better or worse depending on how this country fares. And if there is a war, you will forget about your problems instantly. We do not want a war to happen. We simply want to protest.
I have walked in protest and carried my placards. It was not fun and the threat of violence from the police was in the air. But I did it, anyway, and I will do it again. Now let me try and explain to you why I had to do it.
Reason 1. Political: When We say No, the President Must Listen
The president is not the boss. We are. He has four years to spend after which we kick him out or allow him another tenure. We are the bosses of the president and he has to listen to us. If we say: Mr Jonathan, you must not do this. Then he must not do it. We don’t care about the issue. Our No is No. He should listen to us first before listening to his advisers. We voted for him. Not because he is the smartest, but really, because we liked his name and his history. If we keep quiet about the matter, it is one thing. But if we kick against it, it is a different thing. If he decides not to listen to us, we can tell him to shape up or ship out. Don’t forget: we, that is, you and I, are the president’s bosses.
Reason 2. Economical: The Math Does Not Add Up
Let’s forget that we’re the bosses, let’s be considerate and look at the economic issue. The problem is that the economic issue is very complicated. It is advanced economics. So, let’s simplify it with a story.
There was once a family of one father and several children. The father had inherited land from the grandfather and held it in trust for the children. The land had tenants on it and brought in money. As there was a continuous flow of cash into the house, the father resigned from work and let his businesses die. Unfortunately, he was also a careless spender, a drunkard and a glutton who lived luxuriously while his children suffered. His only effort towards taking care of the children was to allow them take some of the crops which grew on the land so that they could eat twice a day. He ignored their schooling; they wore shoddy clothes and had no playthings. But the children ate what they could from the land and learnt to fend for themselves.
In the course of time, the father got into debt and realizes that the income from the land is not enough to accommodate his expensive lifestyle. He thinks hard on how to keep up his lifestyle and do a few new projects. Then it hits him! A lot of money could be saved from the crops the children have been taking from the land for food! So instead of cutting down his expenses or getting a job, the father decides that the children’s food is the problem. The children eat too much from the land. In fact, they should start paying for what they take from the land.
And that is what removing the fuel subsidy is. It is just selfishness and greed in disguise.
They have tried, and will keep trying to “educate” us on how the money saved from what they take away from us would help in developing the country. But we don’t care about the economics, the math still doesn’t add up. We are not scared to say that out loud.
Reason 3. Philosophical: No Moral Right to Do What’s Right for Us
It’s true, sometimes the people are wrong and the leader is right. In such a case, the leader has a moral right to do what is best for the people despite their wishes. But moral rights are not automatic, they have to be earned. Even parents have to earn the moral right to dictate to their children. A vagabond parent cannot suddenly sermonize to his children. Our leaders have not earned that moral right. He who preaches equity must come with clean hands. Our leaders do not have clean hands, they have fat pockets and grabbing hands. Until the government is stripped of all its wealth, it has no justification to ask the people to donate to the common cause.
Reason 4. Physical: We Outnumber Them
We are more than the government. The government has decided to introduce its policy by force and we will also resist it with force. In fact, we do not want the government to rescind the policy willingly—we want to force it to rescind the policy. We want the government to realise that power belongs to the people.
We do not fear the bullets and the tear gas. The police and soldiers are humans too. They will either join us or they will get mowed down. We will resist the fuel subsidy removal policy and when we succeed in that, we will demand for more. Yes, we will. This protest is not about the fuel price hike, it is about us, the people, shaking off the government, like flies from our back and rising up until we drive them back to their garbage dumps. If all of this sounds forceful to you—it is because we have been pushed too far.
Don’t be afraid to come out and protest. You are doing it for you and for your future. Otherwise, why not just take the next flight and immigrate to the UK? They will welcome you as a second class citizen.