The Convener of the Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has dared the Federal Government to increase the pump price of fuel, saying the Occupy Nigeria protest on the increase of fuel still haunts government.
Bakare speaking at a roundtable dialogue to mark the first anniversary of Occupy Nigeria protest said the protest, held in January 2012, had shown that Nigerians would no longer be taken for granted.
His words: “In the period after the protests, many have asked the question: What did we gain from standing under the sun for days listening to address after address and singing song after song? Quite a lot, actually. First, we were able to shed the toga of docility that encouraged the rulers of Nigeria to assume they could act on every whim and go scot-free.
“They had concluded that Nigerians live from hand to mouth each day and, as such, would be too distracted by the hunger pangs of subsistence living to engage in a protracted battle to crush oppression. That myth was shattered forever at Ojota, as it took illegal military occupation to stop the protests from continuing the following week.
“We are currenttly challenging that violation of the right to peaceful assembly guaranteed by our Constitution at the Federal High Court. In addition, the government has not had the courage to officially raise the pump price post-Occupy Nigeria because the ghost of the protest still haunts them.”
Protest exposed ‘underbelly of corruption’
He said though the protest did not lead to uprising in the country, it succeeded in exposing the “underbelly of corruption as did the Farouk Lawan and Ribadu committees which were off-shoots. Occupy Nigeria has given us enough literature on the big business of corruption that has turned a country with one of the largest oil deposits in the world to one that depends on expensive and low quality imported petroleum products for its domestic consumption.”
He said: “Our movement did not bring about change on the scale of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya et al. The subsidy thieves are still kings with all the perks of office, and corruption in the industry continues unabated as our people now pay more than the official pump price in many filling stations. In spite of all these, we must not despise the compact that was laid and upon which we must continue to stand.
“Nigeria cannot make progress for as long as we disregard the rule of law, promote inequity and lock political institutions that allow the people to elect their representatives and reject them if need be. We have another prime opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the noble goal of saving Nigeria, changing Nigeria, and making Nigeria great in our lifetime.”