Nigerians had a welcome gift on the first of January 2012: the removal of fuel subsidy.
A bold -even for the otherwise timid administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan- and unprecedented move that set the price of everything, from food to transport, sky-high.
Nigerians, across all 36 states, took to the streets to protest the fuel subsidy removal. For the first time since the 1993 botched election of MKO Abiola, Nigerians, regardless of religious creed and ethnicity, banded together for a common cause.
Social media buzzed with the hastag OccupyNigeria
The fuel subsidy was later partially removed and the price of fuel product was hanged at #96 per liter, after a week of protest that grounded the economy of Nigeria to a near halt. Satisfied at the relative success of the protest, Nigerians went home and the #OccupyNigeria was suspended.
On Tuesday, May 11, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, announced that subsidy has been removed.
#OccupyNigeria is trending again but this time only on social media as Nigerians bemoan the hypocrisy of the 2012 protest -that crippled Nigeria for days.
Here are four reasons why Nigerians will not protest the fuel subsidy removal again:
- Nigerians know more
Before the sudden removal of fuel subsidy in 2012 few Nigerians had an idea what fuel subsidy was, its effect on the economy and why it needn’t to be removed.
Essentially, the 2012 #OccupyNigeria protest was birthed by ignorance on the part of the protesters and driven by populist opinion that was championed by opponents of the Jonathan administration.
Ever since the protest in 2012, subsidy has been a recurring theme in public discussions, hence more and more Nigerians are aware of its pros and cons, and why its pros outweigh the cons.
2. Goodluck Jonathan wasn’t trusted
Marked by more than 12 years of the Peoples Democratic Party’s corrupt ruling, Nigerians had little faith in the party and its government, even though they overwhelmingly voted for Jonathan in 2011.
The #OccupyNigeria protesters saw the central government as a highly corrupt mechanism without hope of redemption. On the other hand, while Nigerians consider the present administration of President Buhari as inept and ill-prepared for governance, many also view it as less corrupt -even more trustworthy than the government of 2012.
3. The country is more divided than ever before
As the Buhari administration march steadily towards its one year anniversary in office, it has one achievement: polarizing Nigerians.
The citizens are backing down to a defensive position, with each ethnic and religious group ready to bloodily defend itself against untoward external attacks.
The reason for this is not far fetched, President Buhari has mismanaged several divisive issues ranging from the Biafra agitation, to the Ese Oruru case (that unearthed several of such kidnappings), his anti-corruption war, appointment of government officials, and, most recently, the Fulani herdsmen attack.
The phenomenal protest of 2012 is most likely not going to repeat itself again with the fundamental divisions in the country.
4. Buhari will not back down from his position
If there are three things that the President is known for, they are: stubbornness, taciturn and bluntness.
Case in point: the controversy generated by the 2016 budget. The National Assembly ended up granting most, if not all, of the wishes of the President, while the Presidency maintained its earlier position.
President Buhari does a lot of thing, but not compromise. And Nigerians know this.
Jonathan might compromise -which he did-, Buhari will most likely not.