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.
    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

    Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora