Nigerians Protest Fuel Costs in Nationwide Strike

Posted January 9th, 2012 at 7:00 am (UTC-5)
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Nigerians have begun a nationwide strike to protest sharp increases in the price of fuel and food after a government decision to end fuel subsidies.

Thousands of people gathered Monday in the commercial capital Lagos, where usually busy streets were empty aside from the demonstrators. They chanted and carried signs, including a call to end corruption instead of doing away with the subsidy.

There were also protests in other areas, including the capital, Abuja, and in the northern city of Kano.

The country's major labor unions called the strike after smaller protests last week.

Long lines snaked through Nigerian markets and fueling stations Sunday as residents stocked up ahead of the strike.

Gas prices in Nigeria have increased from around 40 cents a liter to 80 cents a liter since the removal of the subsidies on January 1. The cuts have also led to an increase in transportation costs in the country where most people live on less than $2 per day.

During an emergency session Sunday, lawmakers from the House of Representatives voted for a resolution calling on the government to restore the subsidies, which cost the country upwards of $8 billion.

The government has promised to use the money saved to invest in the country's infrastructure and social programs.

Nigeria is a large producer of crude oil, but it depends largely on imports for fuel because its refineries are in disrepair after years of mismanagement.