by ‘Lakunle Jaiyesimi
The embodied spirit of ‘Abami eda’, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti descended on the souls of #OccupyNigeria protesters on day 2 of the protests, who became embodied and joined the Ojota thousands protesting the fuel subsidy removal amongst other demands. With regards to the essence of this rally, the conscientious lawyer, Femi Falana claimed there had never been such a rally in the known and unknown history of Nigeria (compare that with the tag of a wasted generation, which by all means had been shrugged off). The details of Falana’s claim actually dropped ‘the scales’ from the eyes of the Nigerian, fighting to reclaim his or her dignity. And I must say, this is the point Nigeria needed to have gotten to a very long time ago.
There was a sea of heads from many different parts of the country, irrespective of religion, tribe or social status, all united for one cause. The policemen were actually protesters’ friends as they sat peaceably around, suckling on pure water sachets and giggling at mischief.
The Gani Fawehinmi Park was visited by a throng of people, spilling over onto the roads. In spite of whatever side-attractions existed, the protesters were only briefly distracted, now and then; we always returned our focus back to the podium, where musicians, lawyers, Rights activists, professionals from different fields took turns.
However, the day had started on an unassuming note.
We started the trek from the fringes of Onipanu, Palmgrove and Anthony and collapsed into the Ojota protesters with the airs filled with the words of Tunde Bakare.
Not in any particular order, we had on stage the Founder of the Odua’s People Congress, Dr. Frederick Fasheun (who invoked ‘epe agba’ – the curse of the elderly – if ‘our requests’ are not acceded to). The demands of the protesters were also articulated by all the speakers who came afterwards including Wasiu Ayinde Pasuma, Gbenga Adeyinka the first and Idris Abdulkareem. Salawa Abeni took the microphone, prayed for the country and sang; emphasizing ‘shebi lofe lofe ni baba fun wa’ (She wonders why fuel should be so expensive in spite of the fact that it’s a free gift of nature).
Mohammed Fawehinmi, son of late Gani Fawehinmi, who came in a wheelchair, alluded to the fact that if the Nigeria’s health system had been optimal, he wouldn’t be in the wheelchair. Ganiyat Fawehinmi, wife of late Gani, implored the protesters to be peaceful in conduct.
The protest was infused with melody by the supporting musicians who performed including Nigga Raw, Pasuma, Tekoma, Atawewe and Olu Maintain.on his own part, Femi Kuti with his baldhead inheritance promised to keep ‘going and coming’ until the demands of the people are acceded to.
The undying passion of the people tells the collective resolve to make this the rally that ends all rallies. What the people are protesting is beyond the fuel subsidy removal. It is against the inclusive regime of bad governance, corruption in high and low places, high self-payment of political office holders, a ridiculously low minimum wage, insecurity and whatever it is that may constitute an albatross to the growth, peace and workability of Nigeria as a successful nation that we all can, should and surely will be proud of.
In the spirit of continuing the protest, a new system of economy for the protesters may need to be created as is being done. Busses work in the mornings and at evenings so we can move to choice destinations as much as we desire and the bus drivers and conductors can make some income for their daily keep, at least. Many hawkers who have Nigeria at heart make it a duty to provide edibles for the protesters, while at the same time making some income for themselves and protesting. Salary earners are assured of their January salaries and we pray it stays that way. The concern of the protesters going forward should be the demand for a fuel price-revert back to 65 naira and the holistic sanitation of our government, which will reinstate the democracy that we all are on the streets for.