How fuel subsidy protest turned musical jamboree


 • Kosoko

By SOLA BALOGUN and DAMIETE BRAIDE
The on-going protest against fuel subsidy removal was not restricted to Labour or members of the various professional groups. It took a dramatic turn in Lagos during the week as a group of top musicians and actors mounted the podium, not only to address Nigerians, but to entertain their fans.

 The Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota area of Lagos provided the platform for thousands of protesters, who ended up being thrilled by a number of musical and screen stars. It was a good mixture of politics with the arts as artistes mounted the stage one after the other to either talk or sing in favour of the people.

 Many of these artistes, who were clad in the anti-subsidy removal T-Shirts with the inscription; Kill Corruption, Not Nigerians, condemned the Federal Government’s decision to hike the fuel price. They described the move as a punitive one, which has started inflicting pains on the Nigerian masses. On the roll call of musicians were such big artistes like Wasiu Ayinde Barrister (K. Ultimate), Sir Shina Peters, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti (the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s sons), Ras Kimono, Pasuma, Olu Maintain Nice, Eedris Abdulkareem among many others. It was however significant that the protest called by the organised labour and civil society groups was equally supported by Nigerian artistes.

 Aside the musicians who joined the marmooth crowd of prostesters, Nollywood stars and comedians like Jide Kosoko, Sam Dede, Jedijedi and Omobaba were also visible among artistes who turned the protest into an entertainment event. Some of the artistes voiced their anger and displeasure against the President Goodluck Jonathan- led Federal Government, saying that the decision to remove the fuel subsidy was ill-timed and callous. For instance, Eedis Abdulkareem indicted all his colleagues who were paid during the presidential campaign in favour of President Jonathan. He noted that many of them who supported Jonathan took a wrong step and sold their conscience for pecuniary gains.

 In his own reaction, popular actor, Emeka Ike said he was not against Deregulation, but that the Federal Government ought to have provided social amenities such as uninterrupted electricity, hospitals and good roads for the people before embarking on the fuel subsidy removal. In the same way, Reggae star Ras Kimono invoked fire, ostensibly to burn all those who wish to inflict pains on Nigerians. He described all those who support the removal as enemies of Nigerians who must be ‘burnt’ by fire. Also Sir Shina Peters while performing at the Gani Fawehinmi Park on Wednesday rallied all Nigerians to fight against the hike. He noted that the single action of fuel subsidy removal has caused more harm to the economy through sudden hike in the prices of transportation and other commodities.
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