|Protest Against Fuel Subsidy Removal In Nigeria In January 2012|
Gentlemen of the press,
we recall, with sadness and shock that On January 1st 2012, as a new year gift of hardship and increased exploitation to Nigerians from their government, the price of petrol was arbitrarily increased from N65 per litre to N140 per litre; effectively locking a majority of citizens who live in poverty in their state of poverty, while also threatening to wipe out the middle class and drag it into poverty as the prices of goods and services automatically skyrocketed.
Thus it was that from January 2nd, we all rose up as one people and achieved in the subsequent 11 days of glorious nationwide mass action and general strike, for ourselves and our country, a landmark action that has changed the status of government/citizen relationship and redefined citizen reaction to inept, incompetent, light fingered, treasury looting, selfish and greedy ruling class types.
In the January Protests, we stamped our feet on the ground, drew a redline in the sand, and stood our ground insisting that ‘Enough Is Enough’! And inspite of the abrupt manner by which our evolving revolution was truncated through the use of military forces, we have very literally remained at the barricades ever since.
While the removal of the subsidy was the trigger, most Nigerians were clear that our concerns were around the cost of governance and unbridled waste and corruption which has led us down the path where our refineries have become moribund. In the process, they have turned the 6th largest oil producer in the world, with the 3rd largest installed refinery capacity in Africa, into one that depends exclusively on importation of refined products to meet its domestic needs! We are the only member nation of OPEC that is in such a sorry state!
We dared to struggle against the systemic corruption and impunity that has become the defining character of governance, and impoverished 70% of our population, ensuring that the richest 10% of Nigerians [perpetrators and beneficiaries of treasury looting] owned 41% of national wealth, while 20% of the poorest Nigerians barely own 4.1% of national wealth.
Thus as we enter into the period of the first anniversary of our collective fury, with all the issues that have since emerged; with the revelations about the actual scale and scope of the corruption and rot in the system, and little having been done in the last year with regards to taking concrete steps to clean the Augean stable of corruption, grand theft, and impunity; it behoves on us, Nigerian citizens, the victims of this grand theft and treasury looting to remind our ruling elite that it will not be business as usual.
As we reflect on the events of January 2012 and the weeks and months that followed, we choose to mark this anniversary for four key reasons:
· To remember and honor those who died during the protests and to call on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and other human rights groups to urgently take up these cases to ensure that justice is secured for the victims and compensation paid to their families as required by law.
· To Honor Nigerians who came out in thousands to publicly display their discontent against bad governance
· To Remind government of its failed promise of public ‘service’.
· To Remind Government and citizens of their responsibilities and obligations.
As the uprising is commemorated across the country, We in rivers state wish to seize this opportunity to draw the attention of the world to the misrulership and outright mockery of governance going on in rivers state. Sadly, this misrulership is being propagated, through well oiled propaganda machinery, as excellent performances. In rivers state, rulership has been turned into a tool for unleashing wickedness and state organised terrorism on the masses. Hundreds of thousands of people have been uprooted from their homes and sources of livelihood in most callous patterns as a result of government’s policy of demolition of communities like njemanze, Abonemma wharf and Zor Sogho, an ogoni community despite protests by the affected people and concerned groups. We remember these victims of the state government’s forced eviction policy.
We are concerned and worried that the government has turned some parts of ogoni land, such as zor sogho into an occupied territory as a result of the land grab policy of the governor in the guise of banana plantation. And the soldiers of occupation have continued to unleash terror on poor local people, killing, maiming and brutalising with impunity, while in the city of portharcourt, agents of the state, such as Tima Riv, have been unleashed on the society to terrorise people at will.
The mockery of governance and wickedness in rulership going on in the state reached a climax during the flood disaster period during which the government displayed an utter hatred, disdain and insensitivity to the plights of the people in distress. Thus, rather than CARING FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE FLOOD DISASTER, using resources pooled together by the federal government, corporate bodies, NGOs and public spirited individuals to take care of the needs of the flood victims, the officials of the government embarked on the massive looting of the resources meant for the flood victims. And after plundering the resources, the government shut down the flood refugee camps abruptly without any notice and without any provision for shelter and means of survivals for the victims whose homes were destroyed by the flood. We seize this opportunity of the anniversary of the january 2012 uprising to remember these flood victims who were abandoned to their fate by the government despite receiving relief materials including cash donations on their behalf by agents of the state, including flood camp committee led by the deputy governor. We also wish to remember an HIV AIDS victim who was ejected out of the camp with her 2 children by the deputy governor. The woman died few days after she was ejected from the camp at okwuzi, in ONELGA and dumped at an uncompleted building at a bush path. We call on human rights organisations and international community to demand justice for the family of the woman, especially her under aged children who have been rendered motherless by the wickedness of those in power.
The clarion call sounded in January 2012 will continue to reverberate around the country. We remind all public officials at all levels of government, including rivers state and its local government levels, that we are watching and will continue to demand better governance through all peaceful forms of resistance to unjust government policies, laws, programs and actions.
Vivian Bello for social Action;
Rev U Johnson for Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, Rivers state branch
Godwin FRANK for Socialist Workers Movement (SWM)
Akpobari Celestine for Ogoni Solidarity Forum, OSF
Obodoekwe styvn for united action for democracy, UAD rivers state branch
Clifford solomon for Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, Rivers state branch
Kentebe Ebiaridor for environmental rights action, ERA/CLO rivers
Michael Gbarale for centre for environment, human rights and development, CEHRD/CLO rivers
Enefaa Georgewill for CLO
Karl Uchegbu for CLO South South zone
Orike didi for socialist workers movement, SWM
Emem okon for kebetkache women development and resource centre
Anyakwee Nsirimovu institute of human rights and humanitarian law, IHRHL
Adopted this 9 th day of January, 2013