9th January, 2012
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and civil society groups today shut down the country following the failure of the Federal Government to revert the pump price of petrol to N65 from the N141 it jacked it up to on New Year day.
Business activities were paralysed nationwide as Nigerians heeded NLC’s call to shut their shops, offices, markets and joined the protest against subsidy removal. Nigerians in their thousands took to the streets in protest.
In Yaba, Lagos, thousands of protesters joined the train at NLC state secretariat where the rally took off this morning.
Vice President of the NLC, Issa Aremu said Nigerians have spoken and they demanded the reversal of fuel subsidy removal.
The protesters were led by Dipo Fashina, Chairman, Joint Action Front, JAF, and a former president of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and activist, Bamidele Aturu, Abiodun Aremu, JAF scribe, Achike Chudu, Vice Chairman of JAF.
Others include LASU ASUU Secretary, Dr. Jimoh Azeez; Treasurer, Olumoko Abayomi; Vice Chairman, Babatunde Yusuf, and Tunji Azeez, ex-officio member.
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Lagos branch led by the chairman, Mr. Taiwo Taiwo and other executives and other human rights lawyers, Ebun Adegboruwa and Ayo Obe with at least 500 lawyers embarked on a protest march from the premises of Lagos High Court to State House, Marina where they delivered a protest letter to Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola for delivery to President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a brief remark, Fashola said the situation on ground is a serious economic challenge to the nation.
Fashola appealed for a round table conference to resolve the issue.
In Agege, a suburb of Lagos, there was heavy presence of security operatives around Pen Cinema area, Ipaja road, Agege and its environs to protect people and property.
At Egbeda, Alimosho area of Lagos, the road was barricaded by policemen who did not allow movement of vehicles or okada.
There was a peaceful protest by residents of Egbeda. The markets were closed. Some Igbo traders around Egbeda were said to have mobilised the protesters.
Reports from Agbado Crossing, a border area of Lagos and Ogun states indicated that okada riders who trooped out this morning to carry out their normal business activities were disappointed as they were chased away by union executives.
At Olufunmilayo bus stop, Agege, Comrade Declan Ekhaire led other activities to protest the fuel price hike.
“We will resist the hike in the petrol price. We will continue to demonstrate until government is ready to reverse the petroleum price,” Ekhaire said.
Policemen from Area ‘G’, Elere and Dopemu police divisions were deployed to the streets.
Both Democratic Socialist Movement and Concerned Group of Nigerians supported by ‘Keke NAPEP’ and Three Wheelers associations participated in the protest.
The activists carried a mock coffin in the streets around Pen Cinema, Agege.
At Ojota, protesters stormed the Gani Fawehinmi Park. At least 20,000 people took part in the protest with some of them trekking from far distances like Ikorodu, Ajegunle, Mushin and Iyana Ipaja.
Rights activists were at the park, including the young, old men and women.
Popular musicians like Wasiu Ayinde Marshal, K1 de Ultimate and Femi Anikulapo-Kuti sang to the admiration of the crowd calling on Jonathan to reverse the price of petrol.
Some of the protesters burnt Jonathan’s photograph, chanting all forms of anti-government songs.
Activists at the Gani Fawehinmi Park included widow of the late activist, Mrs. Ubani, Dr. (Mrs.) Joe Okei-Odumakin, Isa Aremu and Yinka Odumakin.
The protesters took over the road, hindering vehicular movement. Local and international media like the CNN, Al-Jezeera, AFP, as well as AIT covered the protest.
Hundreds of aggrieved youths trooped to the streets of Akute, a suburb of Ogun State, this morning to protest.
The protest, which began at about 8a.m. was coordinated by the Youth Emancipation Consultative.
During the protest, vehicular movement was restricted as the youths barricaded the busy Akute road with bonfires.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards carried by the protesters, who were singing solidarity songs include ‘No to bad govt’, ‘No to fuel subsidy,’ ‘Jonathan must go,’ etc.
Speaking with our reporter, the President Youth Emancipation Consultative, Comrade Lekan Soyemi, said “We are extremely disappointed because President Jonathan decided to remove fuel subsidy when there are more pressing problems that need urgent attention. This protest must go on until the President realises his mistakes.”
Another protester, Sukanmi Ogunlola said: “The hardship caused by the removal of this fuel subsidy is enormous and unbearable. Jonathan has failed Nigerians and I think it is high time he is impeached.”
In Benin, the Edo State capital, the police shot teargas cannisters into the crowd to disperse the protesters in what appeared to a crackdown on them.
Kano in Northwest Nigeria was completely grounded. Workers, businessmen, market men and women, artisans and students stayed at home. Virtually all government and private enterprises closed down.
All the major markets including Abubakar Rimi Market, Kofar Ruwa Market and Kofar Wambe Market were under lock and key at the time of this report.
Virtually all the streets in the ancient city of Kano were empty. Even the popular commercial motorcyclist popularly known as Achaba, were off the streets.
Only a few people were seen trekking on the streets from one short distance to another as there was no means of transportation.
In residential areas, people were seen in groups discussing the crises in the country, particularly the security aspect.
There was tension among non-indigenes in Kano as they received the news of mass return of northerners from the south.
Some of the non-indigenes who spoke with P.M.NEWS in Sabongeri area of Kano expressed serious concern over the development.
P.M.NEWS reports that the population of Sabongeri keeps increasing as non-natives who hitherto lived in the remote areas of the city are trooping into Sabongeri, predominantly inhabited by non-natives and non-Muslims.
Security has been beefed up at strategic locations within the city.
In Ilorin metropolis, the protest was peaceful and massive while all business activities were paralysed. Shops and offices were closed.
People voluntarily trooped out in their thousands to join the protest. They carried placards with various inscriptions including ‘Oil subsidy in Nigeria, a fiction,’ ‘Say no to corruption,’ ‘Jonathan, refine our crude oil in Nigeria,’ and ‘Jonathan must go.’
The National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, carried a mock coffin with the inscription, ‘RIP-GEJ’ in front of the protesters.
Addressing the rally, Chairman, Kwara State NLC, Farouk Akanbi condemned in strong terms the death of a professor at the University of Ilorin, Muhideen Opobiyi, saying that Jonathan should be held responsible.
Farouk regretted that though Nigeria is blessed with enormous resources, bad leadership like that of Jonathan had been the country’s bane.
Also addressing the protesters, a professor at the University of Ilorin, Poju Adeyanju said Nigerians have their destinies in their own hands and they deserve the right to reject imposition.
He lamented that Nigerians voted massively for Jonathan to improve their welfare and not to inflict pains on them.
Prof. Adeyanju called on Jonathan to fish out the cabal that used fuel importation to milk Nigeria dry and bring them to justice. He also called on the president to fix existing oil refineries and build new ones.
The protest remained peaceful as at the time of filing this report. Security agents who were following the protesters were reported to be cooperating, acknowledging cheers and were accepting flyers from them.
From Rivers State, our correspondent reports that early morning flights from Port Harcourt International Airport were grounded. No plane took off or landed in Port Harcourt this morning.
Labour leaders led by Chika Onuegbu, Rivers State chairman of Trade Union Congress, TUC, picketed the airport.
The state secretariat was under lock and key. All the ministries and parastatals did not open today.
Most of the filling stations did not dispense fuel. The only one selling was the NNPC Mega Filling Station at the Lagos bus stop at Port Harcourt bus stop.
There was heavy security presence around the station.
However, the labour leaders were able to address workers and civil society groups at Isaac Boro Park, Port Harcourt.
The atmosphere was peaceful. There was no street demonstrations. Shops opened and individuals were carrying out their businesses unmolested.
From Bayelsa State, no street protest was noticed this morning. But labour leaders asked workers to stay at home. The state remained peaceful as at the time of filing this report.
A large turnout of protesters was recorded in Kaduna, Kaduna State. Second Republic governor of the state, Alhaji Balarabe Musa led the over 500,000 protesters.
The mass rally kicked off at the NLC secretariat in Kaduna at Independence Street. From there, the demonstrators moved en masse to Lord Lugard roundabout near the state House of Assembly.
They then marched to Ahmadu Bello Way to NEPA roundabout, then to Wharf Road and Western Bye Pass expressway.
Most vehicles were off the roads. A few motorists on the roads used leaves to identify with the demonstrators.
P.M.NEWS sighted a group of lawyers numbering over 100 led by Barrister Festus Okoye while the civil society group was led by Comrade Shehu Sani.
Addressing the protesters, Musa Okoye and Sani insisted that the government must revert to the N65 per litre price of petrol or else they will make Nigeria ungovernable for him.
The nationwide strike is total in Makurdi, Benue State.
P.M.NEWS observed that banks, fuel stations, markets, motor parks and other commercial centres including primary and secondary schools that were expected to resume today were under lock and key.
The ever busy Benue Crescent and Barracks road in the heart of the state capital had just a handful of traders milling around their business premises.
Anti-riot policemen were seen patrolling major streets of the state capital with others deployed at strategic locations within the state capital.
As at the time of filing this report, the state leadership of NLC who had gone out to ensure enforcement of the strike were seen mobilising the aggrieved people of the state and embarking on a peaceful demonstration with security agents trailing behind them to prevent any breakdown of law and order.
In Jalingo, capital of Taraba State, Northwest Nigeria, commercial activities have been paralysed as organised labour staged a peaceful protest. They were led by the state NLC chairman, Comrade Jonah Kataps.
They staged a peaceful protest to the Government House, Jalingo to present a letter to the state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Sani Abubakar who stood in for the state Governor Dandaba Danfulani Suntai.
Abubakar thanked the labour leaders for conducting themselves peacefully, adding that their protest letter will be forwarded to the Presidency.
P.M.NEWS correspondent who monitored the protest in Jalingo reports that all shops, business premises, banks, hospitals, markets and motor parks were shut.
Hundreds of women, youths and workers participated in the protest. They carried placards with inscriptions such as: ‘Jonathan must go’, ‘We say no to oil subsidy,’ and ‘We want EFCC to jail all corrupt persons’.
The Taraba State NLC chairman said workers will continue to protest until the price of petrol was reverted to N65 per litre.
In Adamawa State, business premises were all locked today. Labour leaders could not embark on the planned protest because of the 24-hour curfew imposed on the state as a result of Boko Haram attacks.
Some labour leaders told P.M.NEWS on phone that they would ensure that the protest was successful in Adamawa State.
From Borno State came a report that there was no protest in all the five local government areas where emergency rule had been imposed.
From Ogun State, P.M.NEWS correspondent reports that commercial activities were paralysed in Abeokuta, the state capital, this morning.
The protesters tagged the action as ‘Operation Tajan’ meaning no going back. The protest took off at Oke Ilewo NLC Secretariat opposite the state deputy governor’s office.
The protesters comprised members of the civil society groups, NLC, market men and women, artisans, and student union groups.
The NLC secretariat was jam-packed by thousands of protesters very early in the morning.
Comrade Akeem Ambali, State NLC boss and TUC chairman, Comrade Deji Adebanjo, led the protesters.
The protesters moved to Ibara, Omida down to Government House, Oke Igbein where they had a brief stopover. From there, they went to Sapon, Ake down to Ake and the palace of the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.
When P.M.NEWS visited the Federal Secretariat, Enugu, this morning, only officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Prison Service were seen around.
At the state secretariat, workers wrote their names and left.
Security personnel were deployed at strategic locations in Enugu, the state capital.
From Awka, the Anambra State capital, protest took place at the popular Aroma junction, while the majority of civil servants stayed away from work.
In Umuahia, the Abia State capital, the NLC officials went out early today to picket the few offices that opened.
From Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, P.M.NEWS correspondent reports that some offices were opened but no worker reported for duty.
However, markets and some private enterprise opened for business.
A few commercial vehicles plied the streets but had no passengers, while those who could not protest stayed indoors.
Police and other security agents were on the streets and strategic locations.
Most of the state-owned local radio and television stations were off the air. Some state governments have threatened to deal with their workers who failed to report for work. That was why some civil servants rushed to their offices to write their names and disappear.
The majority of the workers in Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi states substantially complied with the strike action today.
In their protest letter, the lawyers urged Jonathan to reverse the fuel subsidy removal.
From Calabar, Cross River State, P.M.NEWS gathered that the banks were shut while ministries and parastatals did not open.
The major marketers did not open their filling stations but a few independent marketers did.
Security men manned the secretariat to forestall any break down of law and order.
A few cars were on the roads.
There were also protests in the United Kingdom and Washington by Nigerians. In UK, Nigerian protesters occupied Nigeria’s High Commission.