Nigerians Strike for Second Day Over Fuel Prices

Posted January 10th, 2012 at 11:20 am (UTC-5)
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Nigerian police stood guard Tuesday as tens of thousands of people protested soaring fuel costs for a second day and unions vowed to continue a nationwide strike.

The demonstrations disrupted business in major cities, including the commercial capital, Lagos where angry youths set up burning tires to block access to a wealthy district.

The strike is aimed at forcing the government to restore a popular fuel subsidy eliminated on January 1. The move caused fuel prices to double in a single day.

Some stone-wielding protesters shouted anti-government slogans during the protests.

“We are no longer afraid of you. We are ready for war if that is what you want.”

Thousands of people also demonstrated in the capital, Abuja. The crowds grew so large that police had to bring in extra units to help keep order.

There were no immediate reports of casualties during Tuesday's demonstrations.

On Monday, government officials and witnesses said three people were killed during clashes between police and demonstrators. One of the deaths was reported in Lagos and two others in the northern city of Kano.

Since President Goodluck Jonathan eliminated the subsidy, food and transportation costs have also soared.

Most Nigerians live on less than $2 a day and the fuel subsidy was one of the few benefits they received from the country's oil wealth. Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer.

Mr. Jonathan has so far refused to reinstate the subsidy, calling it unsustainable. He says its elimination will save the government at least $8 billion this year, which he promises to use on infrastructure and social programs.

Some economists have called the subsidy corrupt and wasteful, saying it encouraged smuggling into neighboring countries where fuel was more expensive.

(( # # # aptn, reuters video ) )