Nigerians protest economic hardship | Africa | DW | 06.02.2017
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Nigerians protest economic hardship

In a rare show of public dissent against President Buhari, hundreds of demonstrators halted traffic in the commercial capital Lagos. Meanwhile, some suspect Buhari's health might be worse than officials are admitting.

More than 500 people took to the streets of Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos on Monday to protest against economic hardship under President  Muhammadu Buhari.

The demonstrators were flanked by a heavy police escort as a truck blasted out protest songs. Nigerian musician Innocent Idibia, also known as Tuface, who had been a key figure in organizing the rally, pulled out at the last moment citing security concerns.

But another one of the organizers, Soweto Hassan, told DW that the protest had become inevitable, given the current situation in the country.

Nigeria Proteste gegen Buhari in Lagos (DW/S. Olukoya)

Nigerians at the Lagos rally believe the government isn't doing enough to solve the country's economic problems

"Nigerians are here to express their annoyance because all of the hope invested in the current government of Buhari has led to disappointment. People are angry that there is [so] much unemployment, much hardship and hunger across the vast majority of the population," Hassan said.

Election pledges

Buhari was voted into power in 2015 on an anti-corruption platform and won support from Nigerians for his commitment to restoring order and accountability.

He also promised to reduce the country's dependency oil. But critics say he has made little progress, with Nigeria still heavily dependent on exports of crude, the price of which has halved since 2014.

In December, while presenting his 2017 budget to lawmakers, Buhari admitted that the country was facing the worst economic situation in its history.

One demonstrator Dabba Omoregie told DW why she had joined Monday's protest in Lagos. "I come here as a mother," she said. "We are the ones who feel it when our husbands don't have jobs."  

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo told an economic forum in Abuja that the government heard the protesters "loud and clear."

"You have a right to demand for a better economy and we are committed to see it happen," he said on Monday, but added:

"Years of deterioration cannot be reversed overnight. Again it has to be said that it's our business, it's our duty to ensure that we put the Nigerian economy on the track of recovery."

Nigeria Abuja Präsident Muhammadu Buhari (picture-alliance/dpa/W. Krumm)

Protestors say President Buhari is losing the good will of some of the Nigerians who voted for him im 2015

Buhari's absence

Buhari's prolonged absence from Nigeria has added to the climate of uncertainty.  

The 74-year-old  has been in Britain since mid-January for unspecified medical checks and with no indication of when he might return, many Nigerians suspect his health is worse than officials admit.

Some fear a rerun of the unstable three months in 2010 when former President Umaru Yar'Adua was ill before he died, after which Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari's predecessor, was sworn in.


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