2011 was quite a year. It saw the fall of 4 dictators, three of them on the African continent. Many waited to see if the Arab spring that North Africa enjoyed would cross the Sahara and come down. There were a few protests in Uganda, Swaziland, Gabon, Cameroon and Senegal which didn’t yield a lot. Nonetheless, many African citizens had learnt a great lesson from the Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. They learnt that they could stand up to their leaders. Now that Nigeria, the largest (population) country on the continent has kicked off 2012 with #OccupyNigeria we wait to see how the government handles the situation after today’s strike and what lessons we can draw.
The protest against President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to remove fuel subsidies has united many who say this will suddenly more than double the cost of living for most Nigerians. This year the Ugandan government has promised to start work on an oil refinery and the sector is already hit with corruption and bribery allegations. At the heart of the subsidies debate in Nigeria is why hasn’t government invested in refineries instead of selling crude oil and import fuel at a much higher price. I asked two Nigerian friends, both are taking part in today’s protests, about the issue because Uganda government has to learn from African countries like Nigeria that have been producing oil for five decades. Here is the two responses.