January 1, 2012
This day was a Sunday, a day of rest. But this Sunday was unique as it was the first day of the year. So, it was a day of celebration and one of happiness. And being the happiest people of the world, Nigerians were busy rejoicing. But the Federal Government so loved its citizens that its officers refused to take a holiday and in Aso Rock, they remained, holding series of meetings. On a Sunday! And by the time the meeting was over, Nigerians got a shocking New Year gift: the official jerk up of the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit popularly called petrol. The increase marked the highest single jump in the history of fuel price hikes in the country, as it rose from N65 to N141 per litre. And there was great commotion at filling stations across the country and the joy of the people immediately turned to sadness.
January 2, 2012
Without any notice, spontaneous protests started today. People’s anger was palpable and contagious. No one wanted the fuel hike. From Lagos, Ibadan and Kaduna to Abuja, demonstrators were seen trekking down the roads, singing solidarity songs, albeit peacefully. In Abuja, the protesters headed for the Presidency and wanted to know why a president, who claimed he had no shoes while going to school, would choose to remove other pupils’ shoes now and ask them to walk bare-footed. But Oga Jonathan was more clever than that, he hid himself under the powerful rock and decided not to step out. When the news got round that the protesters were getting too close to the seat of power, soldiers at the Presidential Villa, who had been idling away, swung into action under the Commander of the Brigade of Guards, Emmanuel Atewe. Then there were tear gas, sporadic shootings in the air and a great dispersal. No one wanted to die!
January 3, 2012
On this Tuesday, many Nigerians shook off the hang over of the New Year celebrations to face the grim reality of the fuel price increase. Some of them could not return to their base from the villages, the hike in transport fare as the immediate effect of the subsidy removal cut them off the road, it was then they lunched bigger protests. Pronto, there were protests everywhere and the Abuja/Lokoja road blocked. Two persons were killed in Ilorin when the police tried to disperse those with placards. Oh, there were placards everywhere, some of which read: “Jonathan, you are not a good leader;” “Resign now, Jonathan,” but Jonathan sent in a message: “Relax, I did this in your own interest.”
January 4, 2012
Protests continued. 300 protesters wounded as police began to do what they know how to do best. 19 arrested in Kano. And from Aso Rock, mum was the word; it looked like a period of bad luck for fellow Nigerians.
January 5, 2012
Today’s protests had a new dimension as butchers in Ilorin joined, saying there had been no sales since the increase. Lawyers abandoned the courts and moved to the streets, donning the wig of protest. And for the fourth day in succession, angry protesters on this Thursday hit the streets of major towns across the country to denounce the removal of subsidy on petrol. Also the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) led by Pastor Tunde Bakare, met to encourage the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to call out workers for strike the following Monday. In those days, Jonathan would have rushed to seek the help of the SNG, but with the enormous power of the Presidency now, he called their bluff.
January 6, 2012
On this Friday, the government fixers set out. They went to court and got a ‘black market injunction’ to stop the Monday strike. They were so lucky to get some boys too, to arrange a counter-protest. However, all these moves against workers backfired: NLC insisted it would go on strike; the hired youths shunned anti-NLC protest and as if to compound the problems of our rulers, the dreaded Boko Haram struck, killing 35 persons in Adamawa and Gombe states: Eight shot dead at Deeper Life Church, five felled in a hotel and 22 maimed at victims’ residence. And the smiling faces in the Presidency grimaced: Wetin be dis now?
January 7, 2012
Now, President Jonathan was forced to speak: “There was no going back on fuel subsidy removal. If the government failed to remove it, Nigeria would collapse and no worker should go on strike, because the court had ruled.” Well, the workers had no answer, except to prepare and pray, Where thou cometh, my help!?
January 8, 2012
Today, help came from an unexpected quarter. The House of Representatives sat on a Sunday, the first of its kind in the country’s legislative history. During the session, Hons. Femi Gbajabiamila, Pally Iriase, Suleiman Kawu, Uzor Azubuike, Yakubu Gogara, Garuba Datti, Eziuche Ubani, Evelyn Omavowan and Khadija Bukar, led those who believed that Nigerians should not be punished for the sin committed by subsidy robbers and that fuel must remain at N65 per litre. They opposed Mulika Akande-Adeola, Seriake Dickson, Arua Arunsi, Idris Ibrahim, Andrew Uchendu, Akinlaja Joseph, Yakubu Barde, Nadi Karibo and Ndudi Elumelu who had insisted that the N141 pump price should stay. At the end, Reps members rejected fuel subsidy removal, asked Jonathan to revert petrol price to N65. Although the Presidency got angry, accused the Lower House of inciting Nigerians, the resolution buoyed the NLC and Labour set for total strike, announcing that “nationwide strike begins tomorrow.” It simply meant the President’s broadcast of yesterday’s was seen as a mere shakara: no worker was intimidated.
January 9, 2012
Shutdown: This Monday was the D-Day and subsidy protests grounded Lagos, Abuja, Benin, Akure, Ibadan, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Makurdi, Jos, Owerri, Bauchi, Enugu, Ilorin, Osogbo, Kano, Abeokuta, Ado-Ekiti, Warri, Calabar and others with seven protesters killed in Kano, three in Edo, one in Lagos. Although the Federal Government turned a preacher and admonished, dialogue remained the best option, while the Labour group insisted that mass action continued.
On this day, however, Lagosians witnessed a new brand of protest: Carnival-like protest. It was happening at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota, Lagos. That was the base of Tunde Bakare and his SNG. There were no cudgels, stones or anything harmful, all they had were music, dancing and talks. Wasiu Ayinde Marshal started it, then Femi Anikulapo-Kuti and in a jiffy, over 200,000 Lagosians were protesting with dance, dance and dance!
January 10, 2012
Now, the President was not happy. What type of stupid dancing was going on in Lagos? It caught his government unawares. What they had planned was violent demonstrations, where police would throw tear gas, protesters would throw stones, hoodlums would hijack protest and police would kill as many as possible. Then, men would run, women scream for their children, police would continue to shoot live bullets and everyone would scamper to safety. Case closed, but this kin dance tin, na wa o! The carnival continued at Ojota; crowd grew to about half a million; musicians, dramatists and dancers were trooping in and Lagosians loved to be at the park.
January 11, 2012
Federal Government called a meeting which ended in a stalemate since the people in government refused to shift ground and the dancing at Ojota had not stopped. In fact, it spread to Abuja, Ibadan, Akure and other big towns. Effigies of the President were coming out in various designs with the trade mark hat, so were coffins of different forms. Government was furious, but clever enough not to say it was because of the dance or the coffins and effigies. Rather, on this day, it spoke through the man in charge of its law and legal jargons, Muhammed Adoke. He said in anger: “In the event that public servants continue to disregard the terms of their employment…in disregard of subsisting court’s order, government will enforce the ‘no-work no-pay’ policy.” This became another song at the Freedom Park: Nigeria jagajaga, Jonathan jagajaga and so on. Of course, the President should be angry. And he was! The South-South leaders were even angrier, after all, no be Jonathan increase money, na gofment!
Today was also a very bad day for Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Senators Oluremi Tinubu, Babafemi Ojudu, Gbenga Asafa and Babajide Omoworare, who were on their way to Abuja in their jeeps. The journey was hitch-free until they got to Ibadan, where they were stopped by protesters. And before they could shout ACN, the boys had pounced on them and their cars, chanting “We are hungry! We are hungry”! When it dawned on the senators that legislating would not help them at that point in time, they legged it and manoevered their way back to Lagos.
January 12, 2012
This Thursday, talks to resolve the ongoing fuel subsidy crisis ended in a deadlock as the organised Labour insisted that government should return the pump price of petrol to N65 per litre. But the government refused, saying it was N120 or nothing. Then the news came that PENGASSAN, the umbrella organisation for workers at the oil sector would join the strike and this really got the government running. Those people spending Nigerians’ money knew what that meant. Once PENGASSAN joined, there would be no crude oil to sell and that was when the country would truly collapse as predicted by the fixers. Government quickly changed its hardliner stand and called for another meeting on Saturday. Meanwhile, protesters were catching fun at the Freedom Park and the crowd becoming tumultuous by the day.
January 13, 2012
This was a Friday that witnessed another wonderful event at the Park. Because Tunde Bakare, leader of the SNG is a pastor, mischief makers in government circle were planning to use the tools of blackmail, trying to paint the protest a Christian affair. But at the park today, the Chief Missioner of the Ansar-ud-Deen Society, Sheikh Ahmad, led the Jumat service, right inside the park, with thousands of Muslims in attendance. This was becoming too much for the government and it hired the likes of Tony Anenih, Dangote, Oshiomhole and some PDP stalwarts to pressurise the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, to support the subsidy removal, but this too did not work. The organisers of the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park protest gave the participants a two-day break, Saturday and Sunday, hoping to resume on Monday if the government refused to return the fuel price to N65 per litre.
January 14, 2012
Many Nigerians awaited this Saturday with extreme eagerness as government would be meeting with Labour again. They did meet, but some advisers would have told the President that it was belittling of his office to say something, however bad and recount it. And Jonathan was adamant, petrol still remained N141. Then Labour announced: “Strike continues on Monday.”
January 15, 2012
There was a great rush to the markets. Everybody prepared for another week of battle between Nigerians and government. The Save Nigeria Group had warned that any household that failed to stockpile foodstuff and other necessities would have itself to blame as according to it, the strike would now be total as it had been proved that the Jonathan-led administration was deaf! Services in many churches today were not for sermon and prayers alone, there were curses for people causing Nigeria’s problems.
January 16, 2012
This Monday, Jonathan and its government surprised all Nigerians. Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. and before any members of the SNG could wake up, troops were moved to the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park. The place was condoned off. It looked as if Boko Haram had struck and the soldiers were sent to prevent anyone from entering the crime scene. They were with horse whips, daggers and guns, while their armoured tanks stood menacingly at strategic places. As the protesters came, they quickly took to their heels on sighting the soldiers of occupation. Not even the leaders of the protest could come as no one knew who stray bullets would hit. The soldiers were not joking; shouts rang out as protesters tried to overawe them and after capturing Lagos, the government rushed to convene another meeting in Abuja, this, with enough blackmail, outright lying, threat and carrot-dangling. “Tunde Bakare is CPC. Have you forgotten he ran with Buhari and they both failed? All he wants now is to create enough commotion for the military boys to take over. He wants to use you to achieve this. Would you allow him? No!” So, without as much as a phone call to the leadership of the SNG and the civil society groups who had made the strike a world-class model, the NLC and TUC unilaterally called off the strike in Abuja. And it was reported: Jonathan crushes subsidy protests with soldiers and as Lagosians wondered what to make of them, the President addressed the nation at 7 a.m., announcing N97 as the new pump price of petrol. Se finis!
January 17, 2012
Lagos leaders were not happy with Jonathan. Why should he bring soldiers to the city? This was not Niger Delta where kidnapping was rampant and not the North where Boko Haram group was calling the shots. Besides, the demonstration in Lagos appeared to be the most peaceful anyone had seen around here. For this and other considerations, the Oba of Lagos, the governor and other leaders advised Jonathan to take his soldiers away. This Tuesday, the President ignored the plea and the soldiers continued their occupation of Lagos.
Now, attention was shifted away from the subsidy brouhaha. Something wey dey important don hapun o! Wetin be that? Well, just as the second phase of the protest was being planned for 14 January, the police appeared to have recorded a breakthrough in their investigation of the 2011 Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla near Abuja. They arrested a man suspected to be the mastermind of the attack in which over 40 people were killed. His arrest was effected in an unlikely place: the Borno State Governor’s Lodge. But this Tuesday, the man, Kabiru Sokoto, escaped from Police custody. Haa, haa!
January 18, 2012
Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the most clever party around here, protested today: ACN protests troops in Lagos, Kano, Kaduna. Not on the street though, but through a press conference and leaders quickly ran back home. That was not even important today as the case of Kabiru Sokoto and those who released him from custody had taken the front burner: “Boko Haram suspect: IG Ringim in trouble;” “Ringim may be sacked over Christmas bomber’s escape;” “Minister queries Inspector General of Police;” “Zakari Biu faces investigation panel.” Now, Zakari Biu was the chief tormentor of June 12 agitators in the days of Sani Abacha. He was supposed to have been dismissed from the force, how he got back to become a police commissioner beat many hollow. There he was, the Police Commissioner in charge of Kabiru Sokoto and he let go of him. And, today, he put the IG’s head in pepper soup!
January 19, 2012
You won’t believe this. Today, some elder statesmen, who embarked on a peaceful march to call for the withdrawal of troops and respect for citizens right got more than they bargained for. The police fired tear gas at Tunji Braithwaite (76), Ben Nwabueze (79)and Kalu Idika Kalu, until one of them slumped and nearly kicked the bucket. They simply wanted soldiers out of Lagos, but the government was irked. Army Headquarters quickly concocted an explanation: “Soldiers in Lagos, part of security patrol team;” “Lagos deployed soldiers,” etc. By the time the Lagos government demanded a proof of when it asked soldiers to patrol the streets, no one was around to respond. They were gisting in the barracks: Wetin dey do dis one now!
Meanwhile, IG Ringim was fighting to save his neck, as SSS, DIA, Police, hunt for Kabiru Sokoto. Police quickly placed N50 million bounty on the Christmas bomber and the IG attempted to see the President, but Jonathan snubbed him. The IG continued to try: You no go sack me like this now!
January 20, 2012
Today, the coffin of the subsidy protest was finally nailed and nobody remembered to talk about it again because the Boko Haram group had taken the shine off it: “Many feared killed as 20 bomb explosions rock Kano.” Kano practically became a war zone this afternoon after multiple bomb blasts rocked different parts of the metropolis. Scores of people died in the blasts, one of the victims being Channels Television cameraman in the city, Enenche Akogwu. It was a sad day for many households were affected and the pro-subsidy group laughed:” Now they got something bigger than protest!”
January 21, 2012
“Death toll hits 162.” “Kano deaths rise to 162, highest ever.” Those were the news today. It was very clear that the Boko Haram was responsible since its members freed over 100 members held in police cells after attacking the stations. Jonathan was mourning as Britain, Canada, France and others condemned attacks. The major problem, however, was that the Jonathan administration was clueless on how to tackle the Boko Haram crisis. “It is an irony that the Federal Government that deployed armed troops against unarmed citizens in Lagos could not checkmate those who are posing a real threat to national security, leaving them to run amok and mow down security agents and ordinary citizens, including a journalist, who was shot in the line of duty,” So said Lai Muhammed of ACN and no one could counter that from Aso Rock Villa.
January 22, 2012
Today, one rascal appeared on Face book, writing that if you wanted President Jonathan at a place, first invite Boko Haram, he would rush down. And just as others were commenting, the President was actually on his way to Kano and the prediction came to pass. He was there, saw the devastation in Nigeria’s second largest city, mourned the dead, comforted the injured and promised to go after Boko Haram. Many did not believe this last statement for it had become a cliché. To confirm this, 11 people were killed in Bauchi Police Station and church bombings. And the President raised up his hands and stuttered: “We will wipe out Boko Haram!”
January 23, 2012
In Kano on this day, it would have been calamity aggravated. If the 10 bomb-laden cars had not been found, the death toll would have doubled the 186 recorded at Friday bombings. They, the police, were still battling to free themselves from the hang-over of last Friday’s shock-and-awe attacks. So far, they had counted, on the casualty list, 29 policemen, three SSS officers, two immigration officers, one Customs officer, a journalist and 150 others. It was while they were looking for the bombers that they discovered the vehicle bombs. 185 suspects were announced to have been arrested, but Nigerians were not satisfied, asking what happened to those apprehended in earlier bombings. But the people in government had an answer this time. As Mark and Tambuwal visited, while the Emir of Kano led prayers, government was able to predict: “Boko Haram’ll soon run out of bombers!”
January 24, 2012
It was a day of booming in Kano. Between 1a.m and 5a.m, the battle raged. It started when security agents stormed a Boko Haram hideout at Tsamiya Boka in the beleaguered city and engaged the sect members in a gun duel. When all went quiet, two suspected Boko Haram members lay dead while a military officer was feared dead. No one was satisfied; they wanted to know the ratio of comparison. If Boko Haram killed 200 people in two hours and two policemen four hours later, who had the upper hand? People knew the answer and they were angry.
January 25, 2012
Kano youths’ anger manifested today as they overran a police station, vowing to kill any policeman seen in uniform. Well, you can trust Nigerian policemen, when matters got to this end, they have a way of disappearing. And that was what they did. No policeman was seen near the metropolis where the youths were in charge until when they had left on their own and the blaring of siren rent the air. They left when they heard that the Inspector General of Police, Hafis Ringim, had been sacked and M.D. Abubakar was appointed in an acting capacity. One thing though, it was only the President who could say why he sacked Ringim. Was it because of the escape of Kabiru Sokoto or because of the Kano bombings?
January 26, 2012
As if on cue and the force waiting for Ringim to be removed, the police arrested about 180 Chadian mercenaries and there were indications they had been paid to participate in the attacks attributed to Boko Haram. Well, so many people had argued that our borders were too porous and the influx of army of beggars and nomads from North African countries would endanger the lives and properties of Nigerians, but no one seemed to have heard or those heard were not listening until the emergency of the sect of horror. Now, the President said no basis for talks with Boko Haram.
January 27, 2012
Wonders, they say, shall never end. That was how it looked today when members of Boko Haram decided to appoint the Emir of Kano, the town they just bombed and killed about 200 people, as their chief negotiator with the Federal Government. They said they wanted the Emir to mediate in the dialogue they proposed and, of course, the Emir distanced himself, saying: “I don’t represent faceless people.”
Also this Friday, five Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors were sacked as the Supreme Court ruled that their tenure ended on 29 May, 2011. They are Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, Liyel Imoke of Cross River, Ibrahim Idris of Kogi, Timipreye Sylva of Bayelsa and Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto. In unanimous judgement prepared and read by Justice Walter Onnoghen, it was declared that there was no reason for the governors, whatsoever, to remain in the office beyond last May, having first taken their oaths of office and allegiance on 29 May, 2007. The PDP objected, but the seven-man panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, dismissed it, saying, wetin concern agbero for overload!
January 28, 2012
Today, some people started rejoicing over the sack of the governors, forgetting that PDP and its people know how to find their ways to the seat of power! And the EFCC, always acting when pushed, raced after the governors. They should come and answer charges bordering on corruption. As this was going on, the South East leaders urge the Igbo to flee the North because of the Boko Haram menace. This call rubbished the law that says Nigerians can live and do business wherever they chose within the country.
January 29, 2012
It appeared today that the Supreme Court judgment sacking the governors had thrown spanners into the works of the leadership of PDP that had thought it had all cases in the bag. You could see forlorn in their faces and the strategy of re-electioneering commenced almost immediately. The Presidency and the leadership met on two occasions to review the verdict which nullified the tenure of the five governors for it was seen as a major setback. And those who had been claiming to own the judiciary could not speak. They could neither laugh nor cry.
January 30, 2012
Another day of reckoning: “The sensational life of Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late General Sani Abacha, crashed today at a Lagos High Court. He is to die by hanging for the murder of the late Chief Moshood Abiola’s wife, Kudirat. Also sentenced to death by hanging was Lateef Sofolahan, the late Mrs. Abiola’s aide.” That was the news and it brought a lot of joy to so many. And this Monday, Mustapha, who was known for his drama and buffoonery in court, could not perform any. He was there, downcast and hopeless. Indeed, it was a bad day for the Abacha goon.
The news of the death sentence continued to spread and people gathered in small groups to discuss the verdict. The pronouncement of Justice Mojisola Dada made everyone recoil. According to her, “the second defendant (Sofolahan) willingly handed over Kudirat Abiola to her killers. The first and second defendants jointly agreed to kill Kudirat Abiola. The defendants are found guilty of conspiracy and murder. The evidence is so weighty that the court has no doubts. The defendants are, therefore, found guilty as charged. The light shines on darkness and darkness comprehends it not. Those who shed blood are those who fear death most!”