Occupy Nigeria, Port Harcourt, Day 4

Today’s march started later than usual, almost at 11:00, because the protest leaders at Social Action were waiting for more demonstrators to arrive.  They trekked over the first flyover north onto busy Ikwerre Road.  It was the first day that I saw the march attract any notable number of detractors.  A few zealous young men countered the demonstrators’ effort with pro-subsidy removal signs.  They argued that the removal of the subsidy was a positive step towards curbing corruption.  The activists around me claimed that the young men were the very ones selling black market fuel at a higher price than ever before and so they were benefitting from the removal. Ikwerre road proved the be the most populated route the march had taken so far, and nearly everyone stopped their shopping, selling, and portering of goods to watch and video record the protesters. Most of them looked at the march amusedly and a few danced to the music played by the demonstration truck in front. The song that the truck played most was Eedris Abdulkareem’s Jaga Jaga which criticizes the suffering caused by the corruption of Nigerian government (it was banned from radio under the Obasanjo administration).

Monday saw many bystanders follow, yet despite the crowds along the road today no one new joined in the march. The demonstrators stopped in front of the Mile 3 bus stop where there were dozens of police officers waiting.  Leaving one lane open for passing traffic, mobilizers held up three large signs on the road and several handed out flyers.  Celestine Akpobari and Vivian Bellonwu spoke about corruption and quality of life for families respectively, and other protesters rallied in favor of the national workers’ strike. Across the road several men got into a heated argument over the value of removing the subsidy removal but it ended peacefully.

 

 

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