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Nigerian Government Refuses to Scale Back Fuel Price Hike


Nigeria's government has not scaled back a massive fuel price hike, despite a strike that began Monday and was marked mainly by rowdy demonstrations. Tensions between activists and security forces are mounting.

Union leaders are trying to get the government to reverse the more than 50 percent hike in fuel prices implemented last month.

The head of the Nigerian Labor Congress, Adams Oshiomole, says the strike will end as soon as the government promises to substantially lower the price rise.

"Because we are determined to follow the route of democracy, as soon as we have good visits, which will be based on the government's response, we will not lose time in making the decision in respect of the strike that we need to make," he said.

The price hike follows a government decision to slash subsidies for Nigerian consumers, saying savings could be spent on education, infrastructure and other projects. Slashing the subsidies is also part of an effort to make Nigeria's oil industry more competitive, and less prone to corruption.

During the past three decades, Nigeria has become Africa's largest oil exporter, but at the same time, poverty has increased in the continent's most populous nation.

Wednesday, demonstrations against the price hike spread to southeastern oil-producing regions. The main oil workers union has warned it will completely shut down the oil industry, if the dispute is not ended by the end of the week.

Union activists have been trying to prevent others from getting to work, but security forces have been intervening by arresting protesters and firing tear gas and warning shots.

Dozens of people have been injured in clashes between security forces, protesters and civilians trying to get to work.

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