“It is personal, dammit!” – My response to those who ask: Why are you protesting?

By Onyinye Muomah

Each time I make it known that I have been “occupying Nigeria” at the Gani Fawehinmi square, Ojota, Lagos, friends and family first question my safety, give me kudos, then, ask me why? A friend even went on to ask me, “You no get work?”

No, I no get work. In case you have not noticed, there is currently a strike action in the country. To occupy Nigeria is now my work. And on days I cannot be there, I will make my presence felt via the avenues I have. I will speak about it amongst my neighbours and on the phone to friends. I will blog about it. I will post about it on
Twitter and Facebook. Yes o! Occupy Nigeria is my new job.

Why? Because this is my country and the selfishness of my leaders has affected me adversely.

A Facebook friend decried the #occupynigeria protests. In his humble opinion which I shall surmarise here, rather than protest, we should double our hard work. Dear friend, I can tell you about how hard I have worked. I could write an epistle on how thanks to the influence of the United States and its assumed benefits of meritocracy we have come to believe that the more certificates we acquire the better our lives will be. Or if we branch out as entrepreneurs or are entertainers we are sure to succeed. Even in the US, the land of opportunity, this is only true for a minority. Only few are able to make it big via hard work while the rest have to depend on the government’s welfare. Alas, in Nigeria we do not have such welfare packages from our government.

Apart from the “assumed subsidy”, our government does little or nothing to better the daily lives of its people. When they refused to provide stable electricity, we started to import generators. No water, we dug boreholes even in the arid North were the water wells can be as deep as the length of the average close in Festac. No roads, the richest man in the village tars the one in front of his house and sometimes the central one in the village too. Transportation is provided by private citizens for profit.

In defence of the fuel subsidy removal, Mrs. Diezani Allison Madueke has said that the “trillions” recovered will be applied to complete projects that would benefit Nigerians as a whole. Such as repairing roads and revamping the rail systems.

What happened to the billions already allocated to such projects while the subsidy was still in place? If they failed to achieve anything while they had billions, what is the guarantee that all this will be achieved with trillions and meanwhile the billions are still circulating?

If it is hard work and effort, we have made it. Nigerians are one of the most optimistic people in the world. We are also one of the most long-suffering. The worst part is we continually birth children into this failed system.
When I was child, my father always said, “Times are hard”. I started to “reason” when General Babangida was in power and one of the first words that I learnt away from school was “austerity”.

“Daddy, why can’t we eat cornflakes anymore?”

“Austerity.”

Austerity was to blame for all the extras we could no longer afford as a struggling lower middle-class family then the Structural Adjustment Programme aka SAP.

My father would let me know that the best way to get myself out of this situation of “times are hard” and not subject my children to the same phrase was to be well-educated.

I could give you a long list of all the certificates I have acquired since then but it would make no sense because with the way things are going and the selfish-mentality our people possess once they become leaders, it is almost inevitable that I shall repeat the same phrase to my unborn children.

I refuse to be subjected to such a future when I have the chance to make a change, to be part of a struggle that will bring about real and not assumed change for the better.

Now please ask me again, why I support the strike or why I go to Ojota every day? It is personal, dammit!

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Comments (2)

  1. Dear Onyinye,

    This is an heartfelt and moving piece. But, I am sorry to tell you that what is going on at Gani Fawehinmi park – protest rally + music and comedy event is not the 'it'. Why? It's organised or hosted by a questionable and embittered partisan politician. Tunde Bakare is not 'it' at all. And I don't think he means well. If he did, he wouldn't insert himself in the centre of this movement. Why? He, his spirit and his soul and his God know that he is an extremely polarising figure.

    This is a man who has till date expressed no regret about the death of young persons who were killed by supporters of his party in Northern Nigeria following his failed outing at the pools as Buhari's running mate in the April elections. This unfeeling man now is claiming to feel the pain of people who are alive and have a hope, how much pain did he feel when those young youth corps members where brutally murdered by his supporters in April 2011? None!

    So, my dear, if you want change start a serious citizens protest devoid of hardened and tainted characters like Tunde Bakare.

    Concerning your educational achievement vis-a-vis your career achievements. You may wish to see a career counsellor. Many young Nigerians are victims of mindless acquisition of degrees and poor packaging. Good luck.

  2. I totally agree here… Personally I think the #OccupyNigeria protests have gone way past the fuel subsidy removal issue. It has become a movement of Nigerians standing up and demanding our rights, it is no longer okay for our leaders to come up with various plans that never come to fruition because basically, a Nigerian family is like a local government unto themselves, they get generators to provide electricity, bore-holes to provide water, tar the front of their gates and buy really good cars that can withstand the bad roads, Nigerians generally do not ask the government for anythn, we are a people that have learnt to adapt and we just take everythn in stride and the government seems to want to take advantage of that. my biggest argument about this issue so far has been something that you raised here, if indeed this money gotten from the removal of the oil subsidy is going towards improving our basic social amenities, what happens to the funds that were originally allocated for these things. I think its definitely past time we stood up n demanded that our leaders be accountable to us

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail