The ongoing mass action againt the removal of fuel subsidy claimed another life in Lagos as the protest began on the second day of a nationwide strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria.
The unidentified man; a motorcycle-rider, was knocked down by a commercial bus and dumped in a bonfire at Ketu bus stop along Ikorodu road.
The unfortunate accident occurred just a few metres away from the Gani Fawehenmi Park – now dubbed Freedom Park – where thousands gathered for the protest.
According to eyewitness account, the motorcyclist was riding towards Mile 12 axis of Ikorodu road, beside the commercial bus when the driver of the bus swerved, running over him.
”The okada man was hooked under the front wheel of the bus and as the driver drove on, the man suddenly fell into the bonfire on the expressway” said a distraught retailer who witnessed the accident.
Bonfires have been a major feature of the protest since it began eight days ago, after the federal government annonuced the removal of subsidy on the importation of petrol into the country. The used tyres are set ablaze in the middle of the expressway preventing the free movement of vehicles.
The motorcyclist was burnt to death on the spot while his passenger, who fell off the motorcycle as the accident occurred, suffered injuries on his head and leg.
He has since been rushed to the nearby General hospital, while the remains of the Okada man was collected by police officers from the Alapere Police Station, Ketu.
”If it wasnt for this protest caused by the insensitivity of the federal government, this guy would not have died this way, even if he is destined to die today,” another woman at the scene of the accident said, in tears.
The Lagos State government had on Monday issued a statement calling for caution in burning of tyres on the highways during the protest.
The government claimed fire “damages the asphalt used on the road surface of the newly rehabilitated and creates potholes.”
Jonathan must go
The second day of the protest recorded more crowds compared to Monday. A bit more organisation went into the protest as a stage was constructed over night at the heart of the square and more loud speakers were provided so protesters could follow the speches wherever they are in the park.
Notable speakers on the second day of the protest include, the founder of Odua People’s Congress, Fredrick Fasheun, human rights activist; Femi Falana, and the convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG); Tunde Bakare, who called for the resignation of President Goodluck Jonathan and his entire cabinet.
Mr Bakare recalled how the SNG, just a year ago,used protest to ensure the emergence of the then Vice-President as acting President after a cabal refused him the right to take over power from ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua.
According to Mr Bakare, ”this President (Goodluck Jonathan) now says he is ready for any protest and we assure him that we the great people of Nigeria will not cease protest until he rescinds the price of fuel to N65 and fights corruption or steps aside.
”Jonathan lacks the intellectual capacity to rule this great nation” he added.
Other speakers were musicians such as Pasuma, Dede Mabiaku, Eedris Abdulkareem, Igbo-rapper, All Nigga Raw and Nollywood actor; Desmond Elliot. They condemned the federal government and demanded that the price of fuel be reverted to the old price or ”no deal.”
Nigeria’s leading opposition party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) also joined in condemning the federal government and urged the President to ”listen to the voice of the people”, as expressed through what it called the ”widely successful nationwide protests.”
The party made this known in a statement issued in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, warning that ”the President should by now have realized that he had been deceived, or allowed himself to be deceived, by unscrupulous advisers into removing a non-existent subsidy and inflicting unnecessary pain on Nigerians.”
The party advised him to ”fire such advisers and retrace his steps.”
It also hailed organised labour, civil society partners and advised them not to ”allow themselves to be railroaded into making a compromise that will not be in the interest of the people.”
According to the party, the successful management of the ongoing protests by the labour groups so far, has ”redeemed their image.”
Many had expressed doubt at their (labour’s) ability to lead the people against the subsidy removal.
“Labour has now dispelled any doubt about their resolve and they should see this to the end,” the party said.