Monday, 30 January 2012

Welcome to Linda Ikeji's Blog: President Jonathan responds to Sahara Reporters

Welcome to Linda Ikeji's Blog: President Jonathan responds to Sahara Reporters

Thursday, 19 January 2012


I recently moved into a new apartment before travelling to Nairobi Kenya to take part in the Africa Youth Climate Justice Caravan, which traveled from Kenya to South Africa to attend the Climate Change Conference. I only spent four nights in my new flat before leaving the country. After been away for about six weeks, some reality started dawning on me. When I went to pay for my rent, I remember the landlord jokingly saying “everything is ok but the whole neighbours generators are at the back of the house”.
As the days passed on with the usual erratic power supply in Nigeria, I could not believe what would become a regular nightmare. The house has six flats and four of the flats have a power generating set, with both the old and rickety ones and the small but noisy ones. My flat is on the ground floor with all the generators close to my windows. The noise from the generators is like that from a sawmill and the fumes from them gradually find its way into my room. The pepperish sensation that woke up me up made me realized, I would have been suffocated by carbon monoxide been emitted from these generators. I parted my window curtains to allow for some fresh air but now mixed with generator fumes. I now understood what happened to families that are found dead in the morning, who died due to carbon monoxide suffocation. Usually some people would say they were attacked by evil spirits or their dinner was poisoned. But that is far from it.
Nigeria with a population of over 160 million, have erratic power supply, and this make an average Nigerian who live in the cities and towns to make use of generators. These generators which prices ranges from the lowest been sold for about hundred dollars, mainly have incomplete combustion engines. The fumes from the generators has led to the death of some people in the recent past with those trying to avoid theft at night putting the generators inside their homes, shops and other places where they could have physical contact with the generators. It makes most people their own government, as they are saddle with the burden of providing power for their different needs.
For me, do I tell my neighbours to remove their generators from the back of the house to the front as that is where it has always been, or adapt to sleeping with the sound of a sawmill as my ringing tune and pray I don’t get suffocated by the carbon monoxide, or I pack out of a newly furnished apartment and look for another?  As a journalist, I can’t be caught dead with carbon-monoxide poisoning because I know the implication. So how can I sleep soundly at night when there is no power supply?



Nigerians started 2012 with a burden gift from the President, Goodluck Jonathan, who removed subsidy on fuel and increased the pump price from #65 - #141. This led to one week of strike action that brought, Africa most populous nation to a standstill paralysing both economic and human activities.
One major reason while there was so much cry from the people was because Nigerians, believe that the only gain that they benefit from been an oil producing nation is the low price of fuel. With an epileptic power supply in the country, most businesses both in the formal and informal sector are powered by generators.
The protest that followed had a semblance, with the Arab spring that started last year in Tunisia. In Nigeria, it was tagged "OCCUPY NIGERIA" and the protesters actually occupied major cities and town in the country. I was involved in reporting during the protest through CNN iReport and these are my views.

How do I feel about how the government acted?
 The Government announced on the 16th of January 2012, that the price of fuel has been reduced to #97 and called for workers to return back to work. When I listened to that broadcast made by the President, I said yes the Government has come to realize the people of Nigeria should never be taken for granted. After the broadcast Labour said the protest was suspended but the strike was still on but the people began to suspect something was going on. Personally am not happy about what the Government did and Lagos been the Centre of the rally was occupied with military men. This angered the people because Nigeria paid a huge price to send the military back to the barrack, and the President’s decision to use military might to subdue the voices of protesters in Lagos was a shameful act and a challenge to the rule of law and the democracy in Nigeria.

Should the government have restored the full subsidy?

The Government should have restored full subsidy, and not partial because the effect of the partial subsidy is glaring everywhere you turn to in Nigeria. The prices of things are still high, most especially basic needs and food items. Nigeria is a blessed and rich country and the people are aware. They are aware that their leaders go into power to enrich their selves, that politics is the easiest way people make money and that is why it’s usually a do or die situation during election, the people believe that if the government cut its cost of governance there will be enough money for infrastructural development, if the government tackle corruption and deal with the so call “CABALS”, there will be more than enough to carry out projects. The question the people want the President to answer is; is he afraid to mention the cabal that siphon our money through oil deals and prosecute them? He was elected but acts as though he does not have the full mandate of the people to act and take decisive actions.
Were the unions right to call off the strikes?

The Union was not right at all though they said because they don’t want the protest to hijack by hoodlums but that would not have happened. Lagos that witnessed the largest turn out of protesters in the history of the country was able to protest peacefully except in cases where the police killed innocent protesters, like in Ogba area of Lagos. The people feel the Union sold out to the government and the people so much believed on them and the decisions they would make on their behalf but they disappointed the people. It would be hard for the people to trust Labour on their behalf again because they have confidence in them.

What did the protests accomplish?

The protest may not have achieved the fuel price the people desire but it increased the consciousness of the people to know that they have a voice and can make the government know they are indispensable in their decisions. It made the realize that they have a role in engaging the government actively in policies that are not fair to them and that the Nigerian people can never and should never be taken for granted. Than ever before the Nigeria people are now ready to take up the government in whatever they feel is against their existence as a nation and how they are governed. The protest made the government decide to cut salaries of members of the National Assembly and the Executive by 25%, though, this is still minute compare to what they earn as both basic salary and allowances.

What is the situation now? Have things returned to the way they were before?

The situation is that of disappointment and things have not returned back to normal. I went to some part of the city and the usual bustling that Lagos is used to is not yet back. Though some families that travelled for the Christmas holiday that were stranded due to the fuel hike, that made transport to be increased are not yet back and would be returning this week before they lose their jobs. The busiest places were the banks, where people went to get money that would help them adjust to the new price because things are now expensive, from transportation to food and others. They were less traffic that Lagos is used to and businesses gradually returning back to normal.

What’s next for Nigeria? Do i think the protests are the beginning of a bigger revolution in Nigeria?

The people want to watch and see if the government will fulfill what they said they would like ensuring that our oil refineries would be functional and productive, the mass transit, and other projects. There is less trust and confidence on the government from the people. Nigerians are very patient and resilient but if the government fail in these promises, am sure there will be a revolution and a long one at that.

How do you feel about the role that you played in telling the world about the protest?

I feel a sense of responsibility to my country and as a youth, been involved in making history because the OCCUPY NIGERIA MOVEMENT was something I was proud to be associated with. Seeing people from all walks of life standing united for a better Nigeria and I been involved in reporting to the world through CNN, was one of the greatest achievement in my career as a journalist. In Nigeria it is not easy to convene people for such a mass action but we did. The economy was on standstill for one week and I applaud Nigerians for that. Though it was close to the June 12 struggle of the Late Moshood Abiola but it resulted in loss of lives and properties. The occupy Nigeria is a catalyst for greater revolution that would emanate from Nigeria.

Link to the stories that i sent to CNN iReport during the Occupy Nigeria Protest in Lagos Nigeria:

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


     From the South – North through the East – West, the people all stood their ground refusing to be divided by political, religious and ethnic rivalry. Notwithstanding the emergency restraining order from the court not to proceed, they refused and said ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH. The focus was that Nigerians were united to occupy until there was a reversal in the price of fuel. Further demands included a reduction in the cost of governance, curbing high level corruption that has been on the increase in recent years, tackling of insecurity which has escalated due to the attack of the Islamic sect Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country.

     Nigeria with a population of over 160 million has experienced continuous depreciation in the value of her national currency resulting in unstable economy, high level of unemployment among the teeming youths who are both educated and illiterate, decay in infrastructure among others. As the nation’s music legend Late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sang in one of his song: suffering and smiling, the people were suffering and smiling believing in the usual slang “I go beta”. But on the 9th of January 2012, they came out in their numbers protesting against the present administration decision to remove fuel subsidy which was announced on the 1st of January 2012. This was like the camel’s back has been broken and the people decided to show the government, that they have been pushed to the wall without nowhere else to run to. Across major cities in the country, they came out to occupy major roads, paralyzing both human and economic activities. The organized Labour ensured all the land, air and seaports were closed with some unknowing passengers stranded, in some International Airports without connecting flights to proceed to further destination.
     The voice of the people was resounding with a determination to prove a point, that they would not allow the present administration and the ruling class put them through untold hardship. That they elected them into their present position, and would refuse any form of been oppressed and trampled upon in the name of economic reform.  Most Nigerians believed that as an oil producing nation the only benefit they enjoy, was the pump price of fuel which the people have always resisted when there is an attempt to increase it. In Nigeria, an increase in the price of petroleum products always result in a sky-rocketed increase in the cost of living, production, transportation, basic food and household products. This is due to the epileptic state of the power sector, which makes the people to generate power by using generators in both the formal and informal sector of the economy. The #18,000 basic minimum wages of workers, which the government said it would pay, is yet to be implemented. This the people see as a case of “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop”, because the allowances and basic salary of a political office holder is much higher than the total allowance of the King of Spain, President Obama of the United States (US).
     During the Presidential election, President Good luck Jonathan came out with all forms of electoral slogan, such as I have no shoes as a child and trekked kilometers to get to school, Fresh Air, among others to sway the people into believing he would bring about an expected and transformational change. Most people voted for him as an individual but not for his party, the People Democratic Party (PDP), which is perceived as been an imposition party that imposes candidates on the people. After the election, the reverse has been the case.
     For the Students in Higher Institution, the Universities have been in one form of industrial action or the other. During the election, the President was seen by the people as an educated man who was once a lecturer, and will be better positioned to restore the glory of Nigerian Universities to the days when they were rated among the best. But this has only been the case of “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. In Lagos State, the State Government exponentially increases the school fees and this was greeted by protest which led to the closure of the school.
     With these and other inefficiencies in government going on in the country, the people have resolved to be united in Occupying Nigeria till there is a change and real change.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


The Federal Government should consider the poor and the less privileged in the society, as the fuel subsidy would further increase the level of poverty in the nation.

A cross section of Lagosians made this known when teenaijanews went out to monitor activities in some parts, of Lagos State South-West Nigeria.

Teenaijanews reports that most of the major roads were not too busy as compared to before the fuel price hike in the country.

Also transport fares were increased as the commercial bus drivers, lamented that the new price of fuel which range between #140-#150 was responsible for the increase.

Saturday, 7 January 2012


The recent fuel hike in Nigeria from #65 - #141 has been challenged nationwide by Nigerians, because they believe it would further impoverish an average Nigerians. This made some civil society groups in Lagos South-West Nigeria, to mobilise people in the State and insist that the Nationwide strike would still take place notwithstanding the Federal Government order that the Nations Labour Union should put a stop to the protest. Coalition for Democracy and the Rule of Law and Civil Society Intervention Group, led some Lagosians in a Pre Anti Fuel Subsidy Protest in preparation for Monday Nationwide Strike and Protest.
The Group was led by Comrade Debo Adeniran, Comrade Ayodele Akele and Comrade Biodun Sowunmi, as they enjoined Nigerians to come out in protest to liberate there future generation from poverty and mental torture because the recent increase in the price of fuel would further impoverish Nigerians.
Comrade Debo stressed that Nigerians will hold President Jonathan responsible for the any loss of lives that would result from the nationwide strike because Nigerians have the right to protest against his administration injustice and rascality. Also Comarde Akele charged the people to DARE TO FIGHT AND DARE TO WIN, because the present administration is strategically impoverishing the masses to reduce their level of resistance and out-outspokenness.
Most of the protesters expressed their anger due to fuel hike, and promised to occupy the streets of Lagos as they also called on other Nigerians to come out en masse in different parts of the country, to demand for a reversal of the pump price of petrol.