RESTORE THE FUEL SUBSIDY – 500 workers and students picket Nigerian embassy

Angry students and youth organised a mass picket of the Nigerian embassy last Friday
Angry students and youth organised a mass picket of the Nigerian embassy last Friday

Last Friday over five hundred Nigerian students and workers picketed their London embassy, furious at the Nigerian government’s removal of a fuel subsidy.

The fuel subsidy, which allowed Nigerian people to buy cheap fuel, is considered the only benefit that the people get from the oil-rich nation.

They absolutely rely on the subsidy to survive in a country where generators are needed to produce electricity for shops and homes.

Nigerian students and workers had travelled from all over the country to join in the extremely lively picket.

The crowds blew vuvuzelas, angrily waved flags and placards and shouted: ‘Surely, surely, surely, forever we shall always fight for our rights!’

A young engineer Bola Bola-Rinwa told News Line: ‘I have come down to the Nigerian embassy because I am here to say no to the fuel subsidy being taken away.

‘How are people in Nigeria going to live? Without petrol there is no power!

‘Everyone relies on generators for their electricity, for their shops and businesses, for their homes, their cars and to feed themselves.

‘To move produce from the small farmers in the rural communities into the cities and towns to be sold, obviously you need petrol.

‘I am 100% in support of next Monday’s general strike that is taking place in Nigeria in opposition to our fuel subsidy being taken away.

‘Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian president, must resign!

‘If he does not know the power of the people he will feel the power of the working class on Monday.’

Gabriel Emeriewen, an IT consultant, said: ‘There is an oil spill happening now in the Niger Delter in Bonga.

‘Presently at the moment it is affecting the land so local people cannot fish, they cannot farm, they cannot drink the water. It is a health hazard! They are poisoning our land.

‘The Nigerian government needs to tackle corruption head on.

‘We want to build the people’s oil refineries, not owned by Shell or BP but owned by the people.’

Three young students had travelled all the way from Cardiff in Wales to participate in the demonstration.

Hauwa Adamu aged 21 said: ‘I have come to the Nigerian embassy to fight for our rights.

‘Removing the petrol subsidy is like the Nigerian government stabbing the country. In a way they are threatening the people’s culture.’

Her sister Sama Adamu added: ‘Increasing the cost of petrol means that the price of everyday goods will go up as well.

‘There is a big division between the rich and poor in Nigeria.

‘The rich people in Nigeria and the British oil companies like BP and Shell are going to benefit from the removal of this subsidy.’

Her other sister 17-year-old Fatima Adamu said: ‘I think that this is devastating for our people.

‘If they are not listening to us then we have to fight and stand up to them.

‘Removing the oil subsidy means that transport goes up, food will go up, everything will go up and there are no jobs in Nigeria.

‘We must have a picket here regularly. We are the youth and we are the future!’

Olusola Osineye had made a sign that read: ‘Mr President is a two-faced liar.

‘Fuel subsidy = YES’

He told News Line: ‘When president Goodluck Jonathan was contesting for his position he said that he had no shoes and we believed that he is for the masses, for the common people.

‘Instead he is for the IMF, the World Bank, the multinationals in particular BP and Exxon Mobile.’

A student studying computing at London Metropolitan University, Femi Lalaboiy, said: ‘I have come here today to make it clear that I am against the way the current Nigerian government is running the country.

‘I am not in support of them taking away the subsidy, it will mean a lot to the poor people of Nigeria, the rich are not feeling a pinch.’

He alleged: ‘Any senator in Nigeria earns more in one year than the US president.’

Israel Sholola a Business Management student at the University of Ulster said: ‘The government of President Jonathan cannot be entrusted with such a huge amount of money that he will gain from removing the fuel subsidy.

‘He is running a wasteful government, all of his budget decisions are not necessary.

‘Money should be being used for the Nigerian children’s future.

‘There is no good health care or education for the children of Nigeria.

‘The government must cut its expenses. 469 National Assembly members are going home with three trillion Nigerian Nira in wages and expenses.’

Tope Edvin, a student studying law at Teesside University, said: ‘I have travelled down from Derbyshire to participate.

‘Personally, I feel very strongly that the wealth of Nigeria should be nationalised for the people.

‘So far, the history of our country is one of oil wealth being commercialised by international companies who then dictate to the Nigerian government for their own gains.

‘The oil is not refined in Nigeria. It is exported to South Africa and Liberia and other countries to be refined and then re-imported and the companies who take it out define the prices at which it is sold back to us.

‘We had six refineries in Nigeria and they have all been shut down.

‘This action on Monday of a general strike can lead to a big revolution.

‘In 30 of the 48 states in Nigeria people are rising up and are on the streets and have taken control of the centres of the cities and towns.

‘They have occupied the central squares just like they did in the Arab uprising.’

Nigerian Youth League UK member Dipo Ladi Said: ‘Our movement speaks against corruption, bad governance and oppression of the poor and the masses.

‘In Nigeria every Nigerian student, youth and worker must occupy the squares and strike until the government cuts its own expenditure and restores the fuel subsidy.’