How NOT to prepare for a protest (and more about how the Occupy Nigeria protest went)

  1. Get home from your parents’ house at almost 2:00 in the morning.
  2. Remember that you don’t have a placard. Also remember you meant to buy bristol board but didn’t.
  3. Go to the kitchen to warm up your homemade pot of turkey soup so that it doesn’t spoil. Notice that you have a shallow cardboard box. Bring your find to the living room.

  4. Cut off the sides of the box.

  5. Think about the message you want to write on your placard.
  6. Examine your Sharpie collection.
  7. Think about the message you want to write on your placard.
  8. Officially become the last person alive to discover Shirley Eniang‘s YouTube channel. Watch several videos.
  9. Think about the message you want to write on your placard.
  10. Pick a message that will fit on the placard.
  11. Plan spacing of message. Plan poorly, requiring a restart.

  12. Complete your message.

  13. Head up to bed around 4:20, but not before realizing that the word “Nigeria” does not appear on your placard.

The above isn’t meant to take away from the seriousness of the Occupy Nigeria cause and the hardships that people are facing.

Here’s how today’s event went:

My plan was to go for a few hours as I was going to work later in the day. I went to bed too late to get to the Hi.gh Comm.ission (HC) for 10:00am and I didn’t arrive there until 11:30. I found a parking spot easily, in front of the police! I don’t know how these cops do it but they always seem to be prepared to manage protests. I guess people tip them off and they probably have people who do keyword searches for that sort of thing. I was still impressed.

I asked the police if they knew whether the protest was happening, because I was afraid that I could have missed it. They said as far as they knew the protest was happening, that it was the reason they were there. They also said the organizer of the protest was parked a few cars behind them. Because I was wary of joining a group of people that might have a different agenda other than appealing to the Nigerian gover.nment to end corruption and all that ails Nigeria, I decided to record a video of the HC. While I was recording, a guy I guessed was the organizer of the event came up to me and told me the protest would be starting in about 45 minutes, once a critical mass was reached. He named a number of people in our local community who would be joining the protest. He offered me one of their signs that was in his car but since I had made my own and didn’t want to inadvertently carry a sign that might be in support of a cause other than the main cause, I declined. He asked to see my sign and I showed him. About 30 minutes later he came to my car with the signs and another protester. They asked if I wanted to carry one of their signs. Since the signs were handwritten like mine and weren’t linked to any cause, I agreed to carry one in addition to my own. After a few minutes, another guy joined us. 15 minutes later, a close family friend and his daughter showed up and I love this guy: he asked what we were waiting for; and said we should go protest! The organizer said we should wait for more people but my family friend and his daughter grabbed two signs and went to stand in front of the HC, waving the signs. I grabbed my sign and the other sign, and ran to join the eager protesters, and the protest officially started about an hour after I got there. We chanted “Stop corruption, not subsidy!” and “Stop corruption…in Nigeria.” There were just six of us.

A few people tooted their car horns in support, and even those who didn’t show their support in that way tried to read our signs while they drove by, which is good. One elderly lady asked me questions about what we were protesting and you could tell she got it, saying that it’s the poor who suffer when subsidies are lifted.

Over the next 45 minutes we were joined by four people, two who were there to join the protest (one with a megaphone), and two who wanted to record the event for their own purposes (pardon my cynicism but when you’ve interacted with someone before you learn what they’re about. Hopefully I’m wrong though!). The guy who brought the megaphone kept saying the wrong thing, which was made worse by the fact that he had a megaphone. He was chanting “Stop corruption, stop subsidy!” until I reminded him that the subsidy was stopped already…we want them to bring it back! We passed the megaphone around and tried to create a peaceful commotion.

One guy had to leave, so we were down to seven protesters. After an hour and a half most of us had to leave: the family friend and his daughter had an appointment, another protester had to got to school, and I left for work. I heard a larger contingent was expected an hour from the time we left, but unfortunately I don’t know if that happened.

In all I don’t think we made an impact. The protest didn’t attract any local news stations and HC staff were not affected enough to look out their windows. Only those people who went into the HC for visa or passport issues seemed interested in peeking at us from inside the HC.

I’m glad I came out and chanted with all my heart because I really am thankful that I live in a country where I did not fear joining this protest, nor did I fear the police presence. I am thankful to live in a country where a member of the uninformed public would stop me to inquire, where drivers would honk their horns in support, even if they didn’t have a chance to digest what the cause actually was. The worst part about the protest was the temperature— -25 degrees Celcius is just too cold!

Aloted was kind enough to tell me that the strike was called off in Nigeria today, and maybe that’s why people in my city didn’t show up in large numbers. I learned the the price of fuel was lowered, from N141 to N97, but that is still significantly more than N65.

I’m not sure what will come next but for once in my life, I’ll be paying particular attention to what happens next on a political issue.

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9 thoughts on “How NOT to prepare for a protest (and more about how the Occupy Nigeria protest went)

  1. You go girl! Im so proud of you.
    In my most recent post i arrived at the same conclusion you did, to pay particular attention to what happens next on political issues. Enough of the complacency.

  2. Ok I saw this last night, and I was positively *dying* at your steps. Hilarious!

    Great to see pictures. First of all, can I say how strong you are for protesting in what looks like Alaska?!?!?! Why is there so much snow? And -25C is just not… habitable. It hasn't even snowed in NY yet!

    But to the point, I think it's great that you went out for something that you believed in. It's interesting that even though you didn't think your protest had any impact, you still had what sounds like a positive experience and left feeling more patriotic and more concerned about Nigerian politics. That's amazing, and given the (lack of) power or voice that the Nigerian populace seems to have when it comes to these issues, that patriotism is one thing no government can take from its people.

    • Hello Fab Miss,

      lol thank you for feeling my pain. Honestly I think calling my part of the world Alaska is not far off, at least not for three or four months of the year! Oh now you're just making me jealous, saying it hasn't snowed in NY yet…I guess you're in or around NYC because I know Watertown has seen snow this winter season :)

      "… given the (lack of) power or voice that the Nigerian populace seems to have when it comes to these issues, that patriotism is one thing no government can take from its people." – Well said and thank you. It's easy not to have a strong sense of patriotism when you're raised outside of Nigeria, or when you only hear family members back home complaining about the country all the time, but it looks like I'm getting more attached to Nigeria as I get older. I pray we'll all see a better Nigeria before God calls us home.

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