Nigerians Unions, President Fail to End Strike, But Call off Street Protests

Posted January 15th, 2012 at 9:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Late night talks Sunday between Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and union leaders failed to end a week-long nationwide strike against soaring gasoline prices.

Union leaders say the strike will continue. But they listened to the president's appeal to call off the street protests that raged last week. Union officials say President Jonathan told them there are serious reports that outsiders are planning to hijack the protests. Officials say they do not want to endanger innocent lives.

Nigerians are enraged that the government canceled a fuel price subsidy on New Year's Day — one of the few benefits most citizens enjoyed from the country's oil wealth.

Scrapping the price support has caused the price of gasoline to double, and has sent food and transportation prices higher.

Government workers went on strike last week, but backed down on their threat to shut down Nigerian oil production.

President Jonathan said Nigeria can no longer afford the $8 billion fuel subsidy. He promises to use the money on infrastructure and social programs.

Some economists have said the subsidy was wasteful. But protesters allege that government corruption and mismanagement are responsible for the oil-rich nation's poverty.