According to Fayemi, he believes that these protests were primarily motivated by political considerations rather than genuine concerns.
Dr. Fayemi made this assertion during his keynote address at a national dialogue held to celebrate the 60th birthday of Professor Udenta Udenta, the founding National Secretary of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), in Abuja on Tuesday. Professor Udenta is also a Fellow of the Abuja School of Social and Political Thought.
The event witnessed the presence of former President Goodluck Jonathan, former Minister of Education Oby Ezekwesili, and former Minister of Aviation Osita Chidoka, among other dignitaries.
On January 1, 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan announced the removal of the fuel subsidy, resulting in the adjustment of the pump price of petrol from N65 per litre to N141. This decision triggered massive nationwide protests known as 'Occupy Nigeria' in major cities across the country. After more than a week of protests, the price was later adjusted to N97 and further reduced to N87 in 2015.
Jonathan's administration faced significant backlash, especially from leaders of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), who are now primarily in the All Progressives Congress (APC). Other parties critical of Jonathan's administration included the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
While speaking at the event, Fayemi emphasized that the challenges facing the nation today cannot be resolved without embracing proportional representation, where the benefits of elections are shared among contestants. He also noted that the last time Nigeria experienced significant economic development was during Jonathan's administration.
Fayemi stated, "Today, I read former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s interview in the cable saying our liberal democracy is not working and we need to revisit it. And I agree with him, we must move from political alternative, I think we are almost on a dead end of that.
"What we need is alternative politics, and my notion of alternative politics is that you can't have 35 per cent of the vote and take 100 per cent. It won't work. We must look at proportional representation so that the party that is said to have won 21 per cent of the vote will have 21 per cent of the government. Adversarial politics bring division and enmity."
"All political parties in the country agreed and they even put in their manifesto that subsidy must be removed. We all said subsidy must be removed. But we in ACN at the time in 2012, we know the truth, sir, but it is all politics. That is why we must ensure that everybody is a crucial stakeholder by stopping all these. Let the manifesto of PDP, APC, Labour Party be put on the table and select all those who will pilot the programme from all parties."