Unless the planned nationwide address of President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria later today (July 31st, 2023 undercuts them, the indications is that radical groups are determined to press ahead with a mass protest beginning August 2nd, 2022 against government policies regarded as neoliberal.
Among the policies are hike of petrol from N617 to N195, fee hike in public tertiary institutions, devaluation of the naira, rejection of the planned electricity tariff increase, meeting of demands of striking doctors, other health workers, education workers like ASUU and all other unions, adequate funding of public education, payment of all owed salaries and pension and the signing of a new National Minimum wage.
The question is whether the Tinubu administration will move fast enough to burst a popular protest which could snowball into a major dent on regime grip on power. The protest would coming at a time the Tinubu regime is also at the centre of a set of integrated actions to demobilise a coup in Niger Republic.
Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) who met yesterday (July 30th, 2023) in Abuja, Nigeria even went as far as mentioning a plausible invasion of Niger Republic to burst the coup. An invasion will mark a new turn in ECOWAS’ conflict intervention pedigree but it presents frightening prospects in the light of the coup leaders receiving solidarity from Russia’s Wagner Group through a message from its leader.
In other words, an invasion of Niger Republic by ECOWAS military team led most likely by Nigeria could turn out into a straight test of strength between the ECOWAS invading force and American, French, Italian and German troops on the one hand and Wagner operatives/Russia on the other.
Sylvester Odion Akhaine, a Professor of Political Science at the Lagos State University (LASU) in Nigeria has called for caution on the part of ECOWAS leaders. He said so in a Facebook posting in which he fears that, in an invasion, the regional body might be doing the bidding of an external power.
Back to the protest in Nigeria, the key groups in the forefront of the impending protest are Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), Coalition for Revolution (CORE) and the Joint Action Front (JAF) and they are guaranteeing the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) of their solidarity in calling out Nigerian workers and the masses out to a protest.
The threesome rose from a meeting calling “on the Nigerian working people and youth to see the August 2nd date as the beginning of nationwide resistance against fuel price hike and other anti-poor policies”, said the statement signed by Lagos lawyer Femi Falana, activist Baba Aye and Achike Chude for ASCAB, CORE and JAF, respectively.
“The ultimate aim is SYSTEM CHANGE which is only achievable through a revolutionary struggle to end the condition of mass misery”, said the statement.
The Tinubu administration is consolidating power amidst much take-off challenges. Aside from bitterness from the presidential election and the subsequent judicial tussle which is still on-going, the fuel subsidy removal has created an image crisis.
But the government made appointment of service chiefs that has been well received. On July 30th, the UK based Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) reached the conclusion that the judicial tussle will not end up in dismissal of the administration. As with all such speculations, there is nothing cast in stones in that but, coming from The Economist and its mystique, it has its political uses.
Tonight’s broadcast might be the speech President Tinubu did not read on May 29th, 2023.