We understand your grievances, Nigerian govt tells protesters

The #iStandwithNigeria protesters protesting against bad governance in Nigeria's Capital, Abuja

The federal government said on Monday that it understands the grievances of Nigerians who took part in the protests held in major Nigerian cities on Monday .

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said in a chain of reactions on his Twitter page that the yearnings of the protesters have been heard and the administration will implement policies that will address all issues raised.

“To those who are on the streets protesting the economic situation & those who are not, but feel the pain of economic hardship, we hear you,” Mr. Osinbajo said.

Mr. Osinbajo’s reaction was also restated in a statement by his spokesperson, Laolu Akande.

The comment came hours after hundreds of Nigerians took to the streets in Lagos and Abuja to condemn and seek a timely solution to worsening economic crisis in the country.

The protesters lampooned the administration for failing to address inflation that has seen food prices increase in the last few months.

“Your salaries are not commensurate with the kind of work you do,” Fidelis Elihabor, one of the protesters who converged in Abuja Monday morning, told PREMIUM TIMES.

Other topical issues such as corruption, insecurity and alleged impunity of the Buhari administration were also raised by the demonstrators.

“Corruption be like ladder, na those wey dey down na dem hold the ladder make e no fall,“ said entertainer, Seyi Law, in Lagos. “We have to make transparency the key for this government.”

#IstandwithNigeria protesters
#IstandwithNigeria protesters
#IstandwithNigeria protesters

For Chidi Odinkalu, a human rights advocate and legal expert, President Buhari’s absence from office for nearly three weeks is a matter of critical concern to Nigerians.

“On this Monday morning, we don’t know where our president is. We want to know because we care,” Mr. Odinkalu, who participated in the walk in Abuja, said. “On 18 January, we were told that our president was going for a 10-day vacation.”

#IstandwithNigeria protesters
A Pro-Buhari protester
A Pro-Buhari protester

But in his reaction Monday afternoon, Mr. Osinbajo said the administration recognised Nigerians deserved better living conditions and will strive to improve on the current situation.

“You deserve a decent life and we are working night and day to make life easier,” Mr. Osinbajo said.

In the statement by Mr. Akande, the Acting President also quoted an earlier statement by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“I know that uppermost in your minds today is the economic crisis, the recession for many individuals and families is real. For some it means not being able to pay school fees, for others it is not being able to afford the high cost of rice, millet, or of local or international travel. And for many of our young people the recession means joblessness, sometimes after graduating from university or polytechnic.

#IstandwithNigeria protesters
IstandwithNigeria protesters
#IstandwithNigeria protesters
Protesters protesting
Protesters protesting
Vehicular traffic along the Ikorodu Road has ground to a standstill as protesters are approaching the National Theatre
Vehicular traffic along the Ikorodu Road has ground to a standstill as protesters are approaching the National Theatre

“I know how difficult things are, and how rough business is. All my adult life I have always earned a salary, and I know what it is like when your salary simply is not enough. In every part of our nation people are making incredible sacrifices,” Mr. Osinbajo quoted the president as saying.

Monday’s protest is the first major one against the Buhari administration, which came to power in May 2015.

He used his campaign to champion the cause for a new way of doing things in Nigeria, promising to root out endemic corruption, eliminate waste in public service while improving on security and economy.

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