Protesters yesterday urged President Goodluck Jonathan not to promote civil disobedience over his refusal to return fuel subsidy. Aggrieved Nigerians trooped to the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, Lagos.
Speaking at the protest venue, Convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) Pastor Tunde Bakare, who hailed the dedication and resilience of the crowd, enjoined them not to relent. He said only an insensitive government would ignore the people.
Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) chieftain Dipo Famakinwa berated Jonathan for ignoring the people, saying he had lost legitimacy to continue in office.
Foremost fuji musician Alhaji Saheed Osupa, and comedian, Babatunde Omidina, said the liberation of the poor was near. Osupa said any government that fails to listen to the people would crash.
Many Lagosians trekked several kilometres to participate in the protest, carrying placards with several inscriptions and chanting anti-government slogans. Among the protesters were university teachers, doctors, lawyers, members of other professions and children.
The protest was not limited to the Park. In Adekunle, Yaba, the police clashed with protesting youths on their way to Ojota. The youths, who sustained injuries, were rushed to the hospitals. Around 3.pm, normalcy returned to the place, following the intervention of community elders who brokered peace between the youths and police.
In Ikorodu, irate youths barricaded the roads from 8 am, turning commuters back. Around Agric Bus Stop, there was a clash between protesters and motorcyclists plying the Mile 12/Ikorodu road. Around 9 am, police restored peace.
In Ogba, youths held a peaceful procession in honour of Ademola Abiodun, the man allegedly killed by a Divisional Police Officer (DPO),. They demanded the prosecution of the policeman and compensation for the bereaved family.
Speakers at the Ojota rally berated the president and warned him not to push the country into civil disobedience. Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) chieftain, Isiaka Adekunle-Ibrahim, advised the President to revert to N65. He said the protest might snowball into a revolution.
Adekunle-Ibrahim said: “Nigerians have rejected the IMF and World Bank ambassadors in government. Let them go and fix the economies of American and European countries that are nose-diving. If anybody wants to resign as Finance Minister, we have a million experts ready to serve in that capacity. A tree does not make a forest. Why should the President obey just a single individual and ultimately disobey 180 million Nigerians? Subsidy removal is a disaster because they will only have more money to embezzle at the expense of development”.
Lagos lawyer Femi Falana advised the President to be prudent with the country’s resources.
Ace television presenter, Funmi Iyanda, said there was no justification to increase fuel price.
The Chairman of Coalition of Oodua Self-Determination Groups (COSEG), Dayo Ogunlana, urged labour and civil society organisations to fight the battle to the end in the interest of the masses. He said: “We reject the arbitrary decision to remove fuel subsidy. it is callous, it is inhuman, it is reckless, it is wicked.”
COSEG Secretary, Rasak Olokoba, said: “Never will any government take Nigerians for a ride again. I urge labour, students, civil societies, other professionals, artisans and peasants to resist this injustice to the end.”
In a statement, the family of the late Afenifere leader, Senator Abraham Adesanya, decried the fuel price hike, saying it is an unnecessary punishment for the masses. His first son, Adebayo, who signed the statement, said: “The government should have tackled the cabals and saboteurs who did not allow the refineries to work, instead of transferring the punishment to the masses.”
House of Representatives member Opeyemi Bamidele , in a statement, condemned the act of brutality against protesters by police.
He added: “It is sad that the man people protested to get to office as the Acting President has turned against them.”