The popular saying that ‘If music is the food of love, let’s play on’ has been the case in Lagos since the commencement of protests over government’s decision to remove petroleum subsidy.
Nigerians of all works of life converged Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park located at the Ojota. The atmosphere became charged up as accomplished men and women in the entertainment industry teamed up with the people to partake in the protest which cut across every parts of the country.
As with many others before it, protesters were seen carrying placards bearing different kinds of messages all venting their anger and grievances against the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration and its new policy of fuel subsidy removal. The involvement of creative geniuses in the entertainment industry added colour to the protest.
Name them all, popular musicians, comedians, actors and actresses in the Nollywood hall of fame were all at one time or the other a part of the protest this past week at freedom park urging the president to reverse his January 1 decision. Prominent among the musicians is King Wasiu Ayinde Barrister (KWAM1), Ras Kimono, Femi Kuti, and his brother, Seun who were all there to vent their anger. KWAM1 was at his artistic display cheering the protesters up. Femi and Seun Kuti, also thrilled the crowd by taking them back to old school music of their late father, the abami himself, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, with popular songs like, Suffering and Smiling, Zombie and Unknown Soldier among others.
At least for the period the “show” lasted the protesters were able to unwind temporarily and dance to the music. Wasiu’s rendition took the protesters down memory lane of his favorite tracks which made the crowd yell for more. “I hope this strike can continue for the next one week, at least my pikin go dey take this Wasiu music dey enjoy” one of the protesters was telling his friend. It was truly a sort of carnival in Lagos especially the first day of the strike as the protesters moved from Ojuelegba to Ikeja, down to Ojota and to Lagos Island, it accorded the protesters the opportunity to see and be with stars that they hitherto, see on posters and television.
Nollywood practitioners such as Fidelis Duker, Bimbo Akintola, Moji Olaiya, Ronke Ojo aka Oshodi Oke, were also part of the train.
“I should have been on location for my new film, but I have to leave that behind and join in the fight for our rights” Fidelis Duker a one-time president of Directors Guild of Nigeria, and the CEO of Abuja International Film Festival told this reporter at Yaba, Lagos, where he joined other protesters to condemn the increase of fuel pump price which is the aftermath of the removal of oil subsidy.
In Abuja, the strike continued with Charly Boy and his power bikers demonstrating angrily with other Nigerians on the streets. They have vowed to continue until the strike is called off. Though there have been wailing by lots of artistes, calling on the president to reverse his decision on the oil subsidy removal, the government has remained adamant and unyielding. The civil societies, Labour unions and the entire Nigerians have remain unshaken in their decision to continue the strike and nationwide protest.
On twitter, celebrities continue to express their disgust on the issue calling on the government to consider the plight of the masses .At the moment, those in the entertainment industry have identified with the people through songs and various display of talents.
Star actor Desmond Elliot, expressed his disapproval of the fuel subsidy removal just like other concerned Nigerians have done since the government took the decision.
According to the actor, the action is only meant to inflict untold hardship on the Nigerian masses.
‘We have lost everything we met in the land. Cocoa, palm oil, groundnuts, cotton, cashew and rubber have been forgotten. They are now better produced by nations who came to learn from us. We have lost our moral compass, our society is fractured, and our statehood is threatened. Our citizens are in different prisons around the world.
Some of them prefer foreign prisons to coming back to Nigeria. Our passport is treated with disdain everywhere you present it. Why should our government be this big with special advisers on cassava and beans affairs? Do we need 36 ministers? Why would our president spend close to a billion on food while close to eighty percent live on less than a dollar per day? Why should he budget a billion for generators and diesel when he is urging us to believe in his power sector reform? Why does our President need 6 private jets? Why should our politicians keep their salaries when Obama slashed his?
Why should we continue to be wasteful when the handwriting on the wall says “danger”? Why should we believe the government when it says the subsidy gain will be properly reinvested? Bad leadership and corruption must stop.’