Labor groups and prominent Nigerians led a massive crowd of protesters to Ojota Freedom Park and the Lagos State seat of power in Alausa, on Thursday, February 9th, 2017.
The protest tagged National Day of Action Against Corruption and for Good Governance, featured members of the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) marching to Government House to demand better conditions of service for workers and improved standard of living for the masses.
The NLC and TUC protesters headed to the Lagos State Secretariat while founder and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, and Charles Oputa, popularly known as Charly Boy, led the second group to Freedom Park in Ojota. Addressing the protesters in Ojota, Mr. Sowore encouraged Nigerians not to relent in demanding for better governance. “This is just the beginning of the protest. Don’t be tired until we achieve victory. Some of you might be in doubt that we will be able to achieve victory, but they did it in Egypt and they achieved victory. Gambia just did it,” he said.
Speaking about President Muhammed Buhari’s controversial medical leave, the publisher said no one was sure about the whereabouts of the Nigerian president or of his state of health. Mr. Sowore noted, “It is not the first time Nigeria will be without a president.”
He criticized the Federal Government for the back door recruitment carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the poor funding of education across the country. He condemned the poor remuneration of workers, adding, “Today the value of the naira is worth less than a toilet paper. They promise to increase workers’ salary but our workers today can no longer live on the wages they are paid.”
A former student activist and national coordinator of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Taiwo Hassan Soweto, also lamented the falling standard of living and the cost of living in Nigeria. He called on all Nigerians and non-Nigerians resident in the country to brace up for the revolution.
“Our struggle is anti-government. Our struggle is anti-hardship; our struggle is anti-capitalism. Our struggle is for an alternative social order where everyone of us can enjoy the benefit of our commonwealth,” said Mr. Soweto. He criticized Mr. Buhari’s incessant medical travels in the face of a failed national health care system.
Meanwhile, police officers flooded Freedom Park with their vans even before the protesters got to the venue. They also came with hound dogs and armed mobile police.
Today’s protest came three days after the nationwide #IStandWithNigeria protest.