The number is increasing by the day. The fourth day of the national strike and protest called by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Thursday recorded yet another massive crowd, overwhelmingly beating yesterday’s attendance.
The Gani Fawehenmi Park – now dubbed Freedom Park – became a beehive of activities as early as 8:00 a.m. The crowd started trooping into the park from all directions to pick vantage position in an unprecedented rally against the removal of fuel subsidy.
Speaking at the rally, son of the late Afrobeat legend, Seun Anikulapo Kuti, urged the people to see the ongoing phase in the nation’s history as a time of sacrifice, as he enjoined them to prepare for a one million man march.
“When we reach one million here (Freedom park), we won’t stay here anymore and they (government) will have to run away” he noted. He further admonished the people to be ready to make sacrifice as “this battle will last for as long as we sustain the momentum.”
The Freedom Park no longer holds the crowd, as the protesters now occupy the entire expanse of the Ojota axis of Ikorodu road. The protesters, in their thousands, occupied the road, right from under the pedestrian bridge by the Philips building at Ojota bus stop to the flyover bridge before Ketu.
The demonstrators are Nigerians of all ages and social status. The rich, the poor, miscreants, young, aged, Christians, Muslims, adherents of traditional religions, all gathered in unison to good governance and low petrol price from their leaders. A number of people were seen buying water, soft drinks and snacks for those that could not afford it in the scorching sun while the demonstration lasted.
Series of speeches were delivered by Nollywood actors and musicians as they expressed support for the protest and urged them not to give up the struggle until the federal government reverts the fuel price back to N65 a litre.
The protest, which has so far been very peaceful, also showcased the amazingly creative sides of Nigerians. The early arrivals at the square were the Association of Market Women who invaded the park singing and chanting “marketers are the makers of government.” Their leader wore a jewelry made of pepper and tomatoes on her neck and ear as they lamented that “the price of everything in the market has increased and now rottening away as the government has refused to succumb to the wishes of people.”
At about 2 p.m., organisers dispersed the protesters and requested them to return the following day.
But even after the rally ended, a multitude of protesters still gathered under the Ojota flyover enroute Ketu dancing to the revolutionary tunes of late Afrobeat King, Fela Anikulapo Kuti blaring out from an open van.
It was a very joyful scene as the protesters danced, holding their posters high to convey their demands to the president to revert the price of fuel to N65.
Similar protests were also held in other parts of Lagos – Ikorodu, Surulere and Ogba.