For a moment, many Nigerians hoped that the "Occupy" movement would transition into the first sub-Saharan African Spring (or Harmattan).
A year later, the conclusion is sobering. It is clear that "Occupy Nigeria" failed to metamorphose into a genuine, sustained mass movement.
The central labor unions that were initially trusted to lead the movement capitulated quickly under the weight of accusations that they were conniving to overthrow the government. The Nigerian army, notorious for its legacy of intervening to protect the country's corrupt status quo, was deployed to quell the protests.
On the bright side, the Nigerian people, especially the younger generation, got a taste of people power. I have no doubt that they can -- and will -- exercise that power again.
Few as they were, some immediate gains testified to the power of the mass uprising. After two national addresses, a brow-beaten President Goodluck Jonathan rolled back fuel prices and reinstated some fuel subsidy. And he made a commitment -- far from realized -- to identify and punish profiteers from fuel subsidy scams.
For Nigerians, one lesson is that they possess a latent power capable of bringing change -- if only the people will it.
There are also important lessons about opportunists and saboteurs. It wasn't hard to see their trails during and after the mass protests. The protests had hardly died down when some of the labor leaders found their way into plush government committees. Others formed themselves into "stakeholders" and began earnestly to jostle for government patronage even as the issues that sparked the protests had not been addressed.
Even so, I believe the awareness created about the pervasive corruption in the oil sector made a difference. But it was not the issue. After all, Nigerians already knew government officials and their corporate accomplices were stealing. "Occupy Nigeria" simply washed the carcass of the whale of corruption ashore.
The eventual revelation by a parliamentary committee that a grand sum of $6.8 billion had been stolen through subsidy scams is a yet unresolved scandal. Nigerians suspect, with good reason, that their top government officials are in no hurry to unmask the gluttonous embezzlers of fuel subsidies. In fact, the impression is that the culprits, law enforcement officials, and the judges have all retired to their usual zone of criminal complicity and comfort. No one will be punished.
As the people of Nigeria still hanker for their African "Spring," the "Occupy" movement can re-emerge at any time to take Nigeria by storm.