Nigerians Protest End to Fuel Subsidy

Posted January 3rd, 2012 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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Protesters in Nigeria have marched against a government decision to end a popular consumer fuel subsidy, which has sent prices soaring in the oil-rich nation.

Demonstrators in Lagos Tuesday chanted as they carried banners and signs critical of President Goodluck Jonathan. Some protesters went to gas stations to disrupt business.

But Nigerian officials are touting the elimination of the $7.5 billion fuel subsidy.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, said Tuesday Nigeria's citizens and its economy will realize the benefits right away.

Mr. Jonathan has said ending the subsidy will allow the government to fund infrastructure and social programs.

The fuel subsidy was one of the few benefits of Nigeria's oil wealth enjoyed by the average Nigerian, who earns less than $2 per day.

The Nigeria Labor Congress and the Trade Union Congress say eliminating the subsidy is “callous and insensitive.”

Nigeria produces more than two million barrels of crude oil a day. But it must import refined fuel because Nigeria's refineries lack proper infrastructure and management.

Militants in oil-rich southern Nigeria attacked government and oil industry targets for years, demanding that more oil revenue be spent on impoverished communities in the region.

The attacks largely stopped after a government amnesty in 2009, but oil firms still battle tapping and sabotage of their pipelines.

Some lawmakers in the House of Representatives have said they will fight to bring back the fuel subsidy.