Watching The Protests From Your Pigeon Holes… BY AGBA JALINGO
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Watching The Protests From Your Pigeon Holes… BY AGBA JALINGO

In the news, there is an increasing spate of protests around the country over the rising cost of living and the suffocating economic situation of Nigerians.

These protests are not just instigated or organized by the opposition or so-called haters of Mr. President.

They are spontaneous small numbers, populated by people who appear to be genuinely angered by failed expectations. I have seen even those who shouted “I delivered my pooling unit.” And “On your mandate, we shall stand” are also joining some of the protests and even calling out the man they voted for. This trend was expected. It is not an isolated Nigerian case. It appears like a global trend.

In several countries across the world, within the last two years, citizens have poured into the streets to draw government attention to the rising cost of living and demand for more. So Nigeria is actually coming to the party late.

In Argentina, thousands of farmers protested in Buenos Aires against President Alberto Fernandez, over rising food prices.

In Chile, thousands of students marched through the Chilean capital Santiago, demanding higher food stipends.

Cypriot farmers dumped tonnes of milk and lit bales of hay outside the presidential palace because of high food prices.

Thousands of Greek workers protested in Athens against rising energy and food prices.

At least, one person was killed in Guinea’s capital during protests over fuel price hikes and rising food costs.

Thousands of Indonesian farmers protested in Jakarta against the rising cost of palm oil.

Iranians protested against government subsidy cuts, which led to price hikes by as much as 300% for a variety of flour-based staples, cooking oil, and dairy products.

Kenyan activists held a demonstration in Nairobi, asking the government to lower costs of living, especially on food prices.

Lebanese truck and bus drivers and others, blocked roads to protest soaring food prices.

Just before the Israel-Gaza war, Palestinians protested against soaring prices of food and other necessities.

Peru had to deploy the army on highways in response to road blockades spurred by anger over rising food and fuel prices.

Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, had to declare a state of emergency, following a day of anti-government strikes and protests over rising fuel and food prices.

Even in war-torn Sudan, protesters took to the streets of Khartoum, over worsening economic crises and rising food prices.

Tunisians protested the rising cost of milk, eggs, poultry, animal feeds, and barley.

The list cannot be exhausted. There is a big question of what these demonstrations have achieved. Apart from protesters taking over the Presidential villa in Sri Lanka, protests are actually instruments to draw the attention of the government to the pressing needs of the citizenry and hope they will address them.

If you are still living under the illusion that any politician is thinking about how to make things better for the ordinary Nigerian, then you have to wake up from that slumber. None, I mean none of them who spent those huge sums on you during the campaigns and post-election court cases, ever did so to go and serve you. They did so to escape poverty and find their way into the ruling class first, and secondly, to avail themselves of the cover that political power affords in Nigeria.

Whether they are appending their approval to legislation or they are executing a project or holding a discussion, the last thing on their mind is the ordinary people, regardless of how they mouth it. Until their initial personal gains are sufficiently taken care of, even your crumbs, you won’t smell. So the option of protest lays bare the urgency of the needs of the masses. Prayer and fasting cannot take the place of protests. Sermons from churches and mosques cannot. Hope won’t either, and neither will positive thinking do. It is action on the streets that will.

And when I talk about protests, I am not referring to looting. I am referring to determined defiance that will bring those who govern in our names to respond to our needs which are urgently threatening to strip us of our dignity. You can choose to keep watching from your pigeonholes as if it doesn’t concern you, or you organize and participate. The choice is strictly yours!

Citizen Agba Jalingo is the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, a Cross Riverian, and writes from Lagos.

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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