Every so often, it seems as if the Nigerian government gets a little bored, lets out a loud fart and plots the most dramatic way to shake things up for Nigerians.
One time it was the god-awful decision to change UNILAG to MAULAG. Another time, the president shut down a whole city for a day just so he could commission a bus-station (that doesn’t even work btw).
But in 2012, they overstepped and messed with something Nigerians don’t play with — their fuel. And for that reason, #OccupyNigeria became necessary.
Now if you’re Nigerian, you already know fuel is pretty much a part of the family. Who’s going to make sure you don’t miss that Man U match when NEPA take light when it starts raining (and they always take light when it starts raining, it’s the law)? Who’s going to make sure the fan calms your nerves when the transformer blows and nobody is ready for the fix-up bill? Fuel, that’s who.
Here’s what happened — Nigeria produces oil, but ridiculously can’t refine it. So we export crude oil and have refined oil imported. This usually comes at a hefty price and includes crazy importer fees. The government subsidises these costs, so it won’t be like Nigerians aren’t even enjoying this oil that the Lord saw to bless us with.
However, at the start of 2012, the Nigerian government, led by President Goodluck Jonathan, realised the costs were a little too high for the government to shoulder, so it announced the removal of the fuel subsidy on New Year’s Day. Where previously, fuel prices went for ₦65/l, the new price of ₦141/l was imposed.
This led Nigerians to vex like you’ve never seen them before. It was decided that for there to be a switch-up, we had to #OccupyNigeria.
From organising street protests, human barricades, petrol station shut-downs and a social media shitstorm of epic proportions, Nigerians everywhere- locally and in the diaspora, showed their power and had the Nigerian government shitting bricks.
The #OccupyNigeria protests lasted a week and 5 days, between January 2nd-14th, 2012, eventually succeeding in pressuring the government to reduce prices from the earlier ₦141 per litre to ₦97 per litre.
It’s been a wild 7 years since the #OccupyNigeria protests. We thought it’d be nice to play catch-up with some of its most active participants and see how they’ve been doing since then:
Oh you didn’t know your President was down with the man? Back in 2012, not only was Buhari against the subsidy removal, he took it a step further and argued there was no subsidy in place to begin with.
We stan a leader who can pull nothing out of something, because back in 2016, this same subsidy that “didn’t exist” — his government removed it.
If you had Googled “anti-subsidy removal voltron number 1 of Nigeria’s Twitterverse” back in 2012, Ogunlesi’s face would probably have popped up, or it should have anyway.
But would you look at God, 7-years down the line and not only is our guy working for the government as an aide, his heart has softened and he now believes subsidy removal isn’t all bad after all. Ain’t God good?
Say what you want about his other flaws and you’d probably be right, but back in 2012, Melaye was staunchly against the removal of the subsidy. He wasn’t just against it, he was fully ready to lead the charge in protest if it wasn’t removed. These days, our guy isn’t doing so well though. He’s currently in hospital for stunting a little too hard for the gram, and giving himself a high blood pressure that so conveniently keeps him away from POLICE QUESTIONING?
Way back in 2012, Durotoye was looking to fight for the rights of the common man. He was actually one of the frontline crusaders against the removal of the fuel subsidy. We’re not sure if we have the protest to thank, but these days, he is fully about carrying the welfare of Nigerians on his head. So much so, it’s the crux of his presidential campaign.
You know what, maybe there was actually something in the air back in 2012. Banky W, lending his sweet, sweet, voice to the cry against the subsidy removal- was also front and center at the #OccupyNigeria protests.
These days, he’s taking his responsiblity to the masses a step further and is running for the House of Representatives in Lagos.
Now I’m pretty convinced someone sprayed something in the air during the protests. Ruggedman lived up to his name and dragged the government for filth during the #OccupyNigeria protests, our guy just wasn’t having it, and for that, we’re pretty grateful.
A couple of years down the line and he’s just as involved with the people’s welfare. He was very vocal against the SARS brutality in 2018 and continues to lend his voice where needed.