Protests, Fuel Subsidy Removal and the Role of Social Media: Not Just Another Day in Nigeria

Across the country, a series of “Occupy Nigeria” protests have taken up in response to President Goodluck Jonathan’s January 1 announcement of the removal of the fuel subsidy, which would lead to a price hike in fuel prices. Today marked Day 4 of the protests, which began the day after the President’s announcement.
This morning, protests of varying levels are taking place in more than a dozen Nigerian cities: the expected cities are there — Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Ibadan — but protests are also taking place in what most people would consider more unlikely places, including Abeokuta, Benin City, Kaduna, Akure, Ilorin, and more.

As a lover of communications, media and especially social media, there are two things about this movement that make me especially excited: 1) First, the impressive role that social media is playing in terms of documenting and for coordinating activities and 2) the astounding amount of people that are making use of this medium to make their voiced heard. But first, a quick heads up to this fantastic map that’s been created to show a bit of information on cities where protests are taking place.

One of the challenges is that in some places in the world (including my current local, Accra, Ghana, just around the riverbend), local news media on the Nigerian protests are surprisingly silent. Quite ironic for a country that’s experiencing similar financial pressures at the moment (fuel prices recently increased just last week in this newly oil-exporting country, and are attributed to pressures from the International Monetary Fund).

So, in times like this, gotta look outside for media content, including social media (especially Twitter). The role of social media in documenting and for coordinating the protests have been immense.

Follow #occupynigeria and #fuelsubsidy for just a couple minutes and you’ll see precisely what I’m talking about — in a highly mobile country of more than 150 million, tweets are coming in so fast at times its almost impossible to keep up with the conversation. But follow the discussion hashtags to follow the progress in cities from border to border, to see the amazing photos people are sharing of solidarity, or professionals joining into the protests (including national associations of lawyers, of doctors, etc), okada and, of course, youth.

What Are People Saying/Sharing?
There’s nothing better than getting content straight from the horses mouth. And with social media, that’s possible.

Lagos: Nigerians say “no” to fuel subsidy removal

Photos of Protest: Day Three
Blogger Alashock shared an impressive photo compilation from protests in the southwestern cities of Akure, Abeokute, Ibadan and the northern city of Kaduna. It shows the mainly peaceful protestations in these areas.

And, follow the ever-evolving “Occupy Nigeria” Wikipedia page on the protests as events develop.