Several hundred Nigerians joined a noisy protest outside the Nigerian High Commission in central London on Thursday afternoon. They were angry that the West African country's President, Goodluck Jonathan, says he will abolish the subsidy on fuel prices. The government says everyone must tighten their belts—but only the poor rely on the subsidy to make costs of cooking and transport bearable. Many ordinary Nigerians say the subsidy is the only benefit they have had from the country's oil wealth.
One protester, Olu, told Socialist Worker, 'Politicians are happy to subsidise themselves. They never pay for their own fuel. They have allowances for everything. They even call them hardship allowances.'
Demonstrators sang 'Solidarity forever' and 'All we are saying is fuel subsidy'.
Olalekan Oshunkoya, president of the Nigerian Student Association in Britain, which organised the protest, told Socialist Worker, 'We are here to stand in solidarity with our people in Nigeria. This action will increase poverty and corruption.'
Abbey Lemboye said, 'Even under the Abacha's military dictatorship they didn't get rid of this. Is this the democracy we fought for? People are left to fend for themselves. There's no justice for the common man. Politicians don't serve the people, just have a good time for themselves.'
Another demonstrator said, 'Imagine if what happened in Egypt could happen in Nigeria. If we could change things in a country as big as ours—we'd see change sweeping across all of African then.'
Osuagwu, who is a human rights lawyer said, 'Corruption is everywhere in Nigeria. Even the anti-corruption agencies are corrupt. Goodluck Jonathan didn't mention removing any subsidies when he wanted our votes. So he took them by deception. I'm here to demand my vote back.'