Police brutality is just tip of the iceberg for protesters in Nigeria
Police violence prompted latest protests but anger at the government is growing
“We’ve entered a really new chapter. We are seeing a rapid unravelling of the average Nigerian’s respect for the state and government. The protests are about police brutality but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Matthew Page, an expert on Nigeria at the London-based thinktank Chatham House.
The causes for discontent are diverse: a stagnating authority, soaring unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, deep inequality – and a widespread sense that nothing is likely to change. One slogan seen at the protests has been: “Stop killing the leaders of tomorrow,”
Nigeria has some of Africa’s biggest and most globalised cities, and a population with a median age of 18. As elsewhere on the continent, protesters have been drawn predominantly from a young, urban demographic, with popular icons from the worlds of music and film playing high-profile roles.
“The demographic structure is not what it was 10 or 20 years ago, and in urban areas especially there is less patience with the old way of doing things,” said Nnamdi Obasi, an International Crisis Group analyst based in Lagos.
There is also deep disappointment with the president, Muhammadu Buhari, who took power in 2015 and is set to remain until 2023. Buhari, who faces the challenge of managing an economic slump made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, has remained largely silent since the protests began more than two weeks ago