Nigerians Protest Fuel Costs in Nationwide Strike

Posted January 9th, 2012 at 3:40 am (UTC-5)
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Nigerians upset at a government decision to end the country's fuel subsidy have begun a nationwide strike, a week after the resulting sharp increases in the price of fuel and food.

Protesters gathered in Nigeria's cities Monday, including the commercial capital Lagos, where usually busy streets were empty aside from the demonstrators.

The country's major labor unions called the strike after smaller protests took place in several areas last week.

Long lines snaked through Nigerian markets and fueling stations Sunday as residents stocked up on supplies 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.