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Nigerians Launch Nationwide Strike

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Nigerian lawyers carry a banner and placards as they march on the streets to protest against soaring fuel prices, Lagos, Nigeria, January 5, 2012.

Nigerians have begun a nationwide walkout over the removal of fuel subsidies in Africa’s largest oil-producing nation with labor unions set to join the strike.

The strike follows union objections to a government decision to cut fuel subsidies, which caused petrol prices to more than double since January 1.

There have been several angry street protests across the country where most of the 160 million population lives on less than USD 2 per day despite its oil wealth.

On Sunday, huge queues formed outside gas stations in the country’s most populous city, Lagos, as motorists rushed to fill their tanks. Gas stations in the city began closing after running out of fuel.

More than 15,000 police forces are deployed to the capital, Abuja, to maintain security during the strike.

Last week, police fired tear gas and reportedly used excessive force to disperse angry protesters.

One protester was killed in the central city of Ilorin on Wednesday when police fired tear gas at the demonstrators.

The parliament held an emergency session on Sunday and approved a measure urging the government to reinstate fuel subsidies to calm the situation for further consultations on the issue.

Activists have already launched a protest movement called “Occupy Nigeria,” inspired by the anti-Wall Street protests in the US. Protesters are angry at the cutting of fuel subsidies as well as Abuja’s response to the wave of violence in the African country.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan defended his removal of fuel subsidies, arguing that the cut was in the “best interest of all Nigerians.”

The government says it will use USD 8 billion in savings to make much-needed infrastructure improvements.


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