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Protest spikes as hardship deepens in Nigeria

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By Usman Oladimeji

Prices of food and other essentials reach unprecedented highs.

In the wake of the current economic downturn, protests have erupted in various parts of Nigeria due to the escalating prices of food and overall living expenses in the country. The continuous inflationary pressures in the country have pushed many Nigerians into financial turmoil, exacerbating the high cost of living crisis. Nigeria’s latest inflation figures, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), show a rise in the annual inflation rate to 29.90 percent in January 2024, up from 28.92 percent recorded in December 2023. The impact of this tremendous increase is evident as people are experiencing a sharp decline in their ability to purchase, with the prices of food and other essentials reaching unprecedented highs.

Many youth and women in Niger State flooded the streets on February 6, 2024, expressing their frustration over the increasing cost of living in the nation. Reports indicate that the protest started when a group of women staged a protest by blocking the Minna-Bida Road at the well-known Kpakungu Roundabout to voice their displeasure over the dire economic conditions in the country. Additionally, demonstrations erupted in Kogi State on February 7, with locals expressing their frustration over the skyrocketing prices of basic food commodities.

Lagos State residents took to the streets on February 10th.

On February 9th, young people in Osogbo, Osun State, peacefully protested, voicing their concerns about the increasing cost of living and urging the government to take action. Similarly, residents of Lagos State took to the streets on February 10th to express their dissatisfaction with the soaring cost of living in the country. Market traders, young people, and other protesters brandishing varied signs gathered in Ibeju-Lekki, expressing discontent with the government’s policies and the resulting difficulties.

Residents of Sokoto took to the streets on February 12 to demonstrate against the steep cost of living in Nigeria. The protesters moved from the Tudun Wada neighbourhood to the Government House in a show of discontent. Likewise, on February 15, individuals in Ota, Ogun state organized a rally to express their frustration with the ongoing economic challenges. In a similar action, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners stated on February 10, that they will resort to extreme measures — protest naked — if the welfare of pensioners in the country does not see a noticeable improvement in a timely manner.

NLC plans for a nationwide strike on February 27 and 28.

With the cost of living on the rise and unions advocating for a higher minimum wage, pensioners are also urging a revision of the national minimum pension. They have suggested ₦100,000 as the new minimum pension to the tripartite committee, aligning with the NLC’s proposal for a ₦200,000 minimum wage. They warned that failing to meet this standard would spike frustration among the pensioners who are facing arduous struggles under the current economic downturn.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), in its response to the ongoing economic challenges in the country, has announced plans for a nationwide strike on February 27 and 28 to protest the country’s high cost of living. The strike is expected to start a few days after the 14-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government ends on February 23. Commenting on the protests, Felix Morka, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), stated that the protests in Minna and Kano were a clear indication of a deliberate and disloyal agenda. He emphasized that the synchronized nature of the protests in both cities was not a mere coincidence.

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This action, according to Morka, is a clear indication of a carefully planned and synchronized attempt to provoke disorder and weaken the authority of the incumbent government. In response to Morka’s assertion, the National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Debo Ologunagba, criticized the insensitivity of the APC’s actions. Ologunagba also accused President Bola Tinubu of politicizing economic challenges and escalating insecurity in the nation. He condemned APC’s threats against Nigerians for protesting against mismanagement, poverty, hunger, violence, and other distressing situations during Tinubu’s leadership as an infringement on democratic and constitutional rights.

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