While my peers were on winterims, I was in Nigeria as part of the Occupy Nigeria movement. Although I was home to visit my family and really only occupied my bedroom, I still felt the impact of the Occupy Nigeria movement. Nigeria is the largest producer of oil in Africa but because Nigeria lacks functioning refineries, it needs to import refined crude oil, which is expensive. To reduce the cost, the government has subsidized the price of fuel for many years, which kept fuel prices artificially low at ₦65/litre ($0.42). However, on New Year’s Day, the government announced that the subsidy had been removed which resulted in the price of fuel more than doubling to ₦141/litre ($0.90).
To protest this removal, Nigerians from all spheres of life took to the streets. In what has been hailed the most impactful and peaceful protest, Nigerians from all socio-economic classes including actors and musicians came together to register their displeasure. The protest shut down the air space, the seaports, markets and businesses and Nigeria lost an estimated ₦144 billion ($904 million) each day of the protest.
Although this was a serious issue because the hike in the price of fuel affected all sectors of the economy and would have increased the cost of living for an already struggling population, Nigerians know how to find pleasure even in dire circumstances. The protest was marked with performances by musicians and comedians, and some Nigerians literally occupied the streets by moving their bedroom and dinning furniture to the streets. In the end, the protest was successful because after one week of a total shut down of economic activity and several negotiations between the government and labour leaders, the price of fuel was reduced from ₦141 to ₦97.