Press Release: Study On Energy Protests In Nigeria

The Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR), based in Nairobi Kenya and the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) based in the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, in collaboration with independent Nigerian academics/researchers are studying the outcomes of energy protests in Nigeria. The aim of the study is to understand the repertoire of protests and the conditions under which the protests lead to change, if and when they do, as well as why and how fuel subsidy reforms lead to protest.

Today, we gather to network with stakeholders in the energy sector, including government officials, academics, concerned civil society organisations, the media and representatives of oil-producing communities. We purpose to share the proposed study with the stakeholders and learn from them what we can do to realise the objectives of the study. We wish to learn from them how we can make this research serve them the best way it could. We wish to secure their cooperation and support in using the findings of the research when they are out. We also hope to leverage this network, when needs arise, in the process of our data collection for the study.

Crude oil and its refined products are the lifeblood of the Nigerian national and individual economies. No wonder why every fluctuation in the prices and availability of these items is greeted with widespread reaction by Nigerians. In nearly all cases when prices of fuel increase or when fuel is not available, Nigerians protest widely.

Between 1973 and 2015, the pump prices of fuel have been increased many times. In nearly all of these, the civil society and organised labour mobilised citizens to protest the increase. Some protests were brief, others were long drawn; some were followed by government reduction of the pump price, others were not. In one instance, increase in pump price was not followed by any protests.

These protests cost substantial civil society and labour energy to organise. They cost government resources to respond to or quell. Worse still, they result in loss of property and lives. Given these incalculable costs, it is important to ask if these protests do produce the results desired by the organisers, and under what conditions they do so if they do.

The aim of the study, therefore, is to examine fuel protests in the last decade trying to understand the dynamics of mobilisation and if, when and how they produced results. It is important to understand that government yielding to pressures from protesters is typically a negotiation of several complicated interests – with those of protesters being just one of those interests. Interests of oil companies, marketers, government ministries, international oil markets, and real politics are among other competing interests. Using a combination of methods, the study will examine the interplay of these interests in the government’s decision to (not) review fuel prices in response to protests.

The study is part of multi-country research, which includes Pakistan and Mozambique. In Nigeria, the study team is made up of Dr. John Agbonifo of the Osun State University and Prof Ayo Ojebode of the University of Ibadan. Today’s gathering was organised by LEAP Africa.


Dr. Martin Atela

Director, Research

Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR)

Nairobi, Kenya

10 July 2019