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Phone Call from Lagos

Another Blue Monday in Lagos

President Goodluck Jonathan is ironically named for Nigeria's angry Occupiers.
Κείμενο Andy Capper

VICE’s Nigeria correspondent Justice Karo gave us this report from last week’s protests against the huge rise in fuel costs in Nigeria, which were instigated by the ironically named President Goodluck Jonathan. A Lagos-based Occupy movement was immediately formed, with thousands of supporters pouring into the streets of Lagos and other Nigerian cities. Within hours, Nigerian police started shooting at protesters, leaving up to ten dead and sparking fears that the violence could escalate, with the Islamist rebel group, Boko Haram, perhaps primed to take advantage of the fragile security situation in the country.
In solidarity with the protesters, Nigeria’s Labour Union threatened to shut off the country’s oil supply. Given that this is something Goodluck's government could not survive, a couple of days later the benevolent president ordered the army in to disperse the protesters.


We got in touch with Justice again to see how things were going. VICE: Hi Justice, where did you take these photos?
Justice: I took these pictures at Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park Ojota, not far from the Governor’s Office in Lagos. What was the mood of the protesters?
Do you know what it's like to have what is rightfully yours taken away from you? They felt cheated, betrayed, and robbed, because they had all hoped that Goodluck Jonathan would turn things around for good in our country. At the end of the day, he surprised Nigeria by increasing fuel prices from 65 Naira [about 40 cents] to 150 Naira [about 90 cents] per liter. That was his New Year's gift. And he sent the army in to clear it up, right?
Everybody woke up that morning well prepared for another crazy day, but when they got to the site of the protest, Mr. President said: “Come and protest! Let me see you… if I don't insert a bullet into your head first!"

He did this by deploying soldiers all over Freedom Park. That really drove everyone crazy. They started singing all kind of songs telling the president and the soldiers that they were ready to die. And I thank God they didn't do anything crazy, 'cause that would have driven the soldiers mad, and you know what happens when a mad man holds a machine gun. That was another blue Monday, and I am sure most of the people at the protest will all begin to hate Mondays soon. But, for now at least, the protesters seems to have dispersed. Do you think this will be the end of the troubles and protesting?
Well, people are complaining and calling the National Labour Conference traitors, because 90 percent of Nigerians were ready to fight till the end. But now there is nothing they can do, because the NLC has made an agreement with the president. Ninety seven Naira [about 60 cents] per liter is a lot of money for the average Nigerian. I ask them: How much are they making from what they do? And how much is the government paying workers?


Reality has not dawned on the majority of people in Nigeria. So please, let's do some maths together on how OPEC countries and non-OPEC countries compare to Nigeria in terms of fuel prices. OK… [all subsequent currency conversions approx]
Iran, with the highest fuel price, charges 102 Naira [63 cents] per liter. And the monthly minimum wage in Iran is 86,585 Naira [$536]. If an Iranian buys 15 liters per day, they'll spend 38,268 [$237] on fuel for 25 working days. This is about 44 percent of their minimum wage. In Nigeria, an OPEC country, fuel is 141 Naira [87 cents] per liter and the monthly minimum wage is 18,000 Naira [$112]. If a Nigerian buys 15 litrers of fuel per day, they'll spend 52,875 Naira [$328] if they're working 25 days in a month. If the minimum wage is 18,000 Naira, that means in Nigeria we will be spending 293 percent of the minimum wage that WE DO NOT EARN on fuel. Isn't this insane? It’s totally insane, yes.
What does this tell you? That means that we will have more people trying to make ends meet by stealing and scamming and with blood money. Here is a questions for Nigerians all over the world: What do we do?

How do you feel this will affect Goodluck Jonathan’s future?
If Goodluck can do this horrible thing, then he is capable of doing anything, and that makes the future of Nigeria very unpredictable.
My message to those who care and love this great nation is this: Please keep praying for Nigeria, because that is the only solution we have now. Only the most high God can turn things around for good. And please keep doing your best to make people around you happy, because by doing that, you are not just helping yourself, you are helping the generations to come. God Bless You. OK, thanks Justice.