Fuel protests continue in Nigeria

2012-01-05 14:59

Protests in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, in response to the removal of a fuel subsidy that caused petrol prices to double, continued today.

Hundreds of people had gathered overnight to protest the fuel hike which came after the government cut subsidies on January 1.

Dubbed “Occupy Kano”, the ongoing protest is a keystone of the “Occupy Nigeria” movement that is sweeping across the country.
In many parts of Nigeria, the price of fuel has doubled, leaving many angry that they are unable to afford to travel or buy fuel for electricity generators.

Aminu Bello, an unemployed graduate, was among the protesters. “We voted the president into office and we must hold him accountable for his actions,” he said.

“The fuel increase has brought untold hardship to us. The decision must be reversed otherwise we will continue to occupy,” Bello added.

“The atmosphere is already charged ...any further gathering could spark a crisis,” Kano policeman Emmanuel Ataku, who tried to disperse the protest, told dpa.

Although Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer, with an output of about 2.4 million barrels a day, the country does not have the capacity to refine the oil it produces and few Nigerians benefit from the wealth.

President Goodluck Jonathan has refused to back down on the move to cut subsidies, saying it will unlock capital needed to improve infrastructure. He said yesterday that he would boost public transportation, providing an additional 1 600 buses.

But in a country of 160 million, that has been shunned by commentators as “like giving medicine after death”.

Nationwide strikes, led by major trade unions, are planned for Monday.

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