News / Africa

Strikes Over, Nigerians Still Unhappy with Fuel Prices

Muslim women attend a rally at Gani Fawehinmi freedom square on the fifth day of a protest against a fuel subsidies removal, in Lagos January 13, 2012.
Muslim women attend a rally at Gani Fawehinmi freedom square on the fifth day of a protest against a fuel subsidies removal, in Lagos January 13, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Jane Labous

The nationwide strikes that brought Nigeria to a standstill last week are over.  Although fuel prices have been reduced, many feel the solution is merely cosmetic.

After President Goodluck Jonathan announced Sunday night that the price of fuel would be reduced by 35 percent to around 60 cents per liter, Union leaders halted strikes.  The president called on the population to “get back to work" but it took soldiers patrolling the streets on Monday to finally quash the protests.

The price at the pump is still much higher than it was before the government cut its fuel consumer subsidy - previously set at just 45 cents per liter - on New Year’s Day.

Established in 1973, the subsidy is one of the only ways in which ordinary Nigerians can benefit from their country’s substantial oil wealth.

Now, reaction is mixed. Some Nigierians say the battle has been lost by agreeing to the new pump price. Others maintain that the new price should be accepted for the sake of peace and stability.

Other Nigerians are saying the move to reduce the price is merely cosmetic. Onyinye Gandhi, a civil servant who helped organize the protests, says the current price is still unacceptable in a country where most people live on less than $2 a day.

“It is unsatisfactory. It is basically no different to what it was before now; the reason people went onto the street," Gandhi said. "We should continue to take to the street. Because I can assure you that what the government is doing is just cosmetic. All the promises they are making are mere balloons. In a short while we will find they are mad dreams and the people will return to the streets.”

But attorney Ignatius Onwuemele, from Warri in Delta State, maintains Nigerians should accept the new price - if only to gain peace. He also calls on the federal government to compensate the families of those who lost their lives during the struggle.

“In the circumstances, what are you going to do. It is commendable because we don’t want lives to be lost anymore. Lots of lives have been lost here in Nigeria," noted Onwuemele. "And those people who have been lost, they should be compensated, because they have fought for freedom.”



The tensions over fuel also appear to have unleashed a more profound anger over corruption and inequality in the West African nation. The presence of the military is said to have led protesters to compare Goodluck Jonathan to military rulers of the past - and to call for revolution.

Onyinye Gandhi says the government needs to take a good hard look at itself to solve the problems that run through to the heart of Nigeria’s system.

“If the government does not have the political will to strike at those who use corruption and manipulation to stop the country from working - and striking at those who are corrupt in the system consistently and making the people of this country suffer, and then as an easy way out it chooses to come at the people, then you know the government is not ready. We cannot accept this!” said Gandhi.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets last week during the strike, which saw global oil prices rocket as workers threatened to shut down crude oil production plants.

President Jonathan condemned what he described as “anarchy” on the streets.

“There has been a breakdown in law and order in some parts of the country as a result of the activities of some persons, who took advantage of the situation to follow their own interests and engaged in acts of intimidation, harassment and outright subversion," he said. "I express my sympathy to those who were personally affected by the protests.”

Northern Nigeria is also facing a surge in religious violence.

President Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in some places as the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram is blamed for a string of deadly shootings and bombings.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid