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

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora