Nigeria Cuts Fuel Prices After Strike, Protests

Posted January 16th, 2012 at 6:20 am (UTC-5)
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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has announced the government will cut fuel prices, after a week-long nationwide strike and protests against soaring costs.

Mr. Jonathan said in a televised address Monday that given “hardships being suffered by the Nigerian people,” fuel prices will drop to about 60 cents per liter. That is a reduction of about 35 percent, but remains higher than the 45 cents per liter Nigerians paid before the government ended a fuel subsidy on New Year's Day.

The president said the protests have been “hijacked” by those who are trying to “promote discord, anarchy and insecurity.”

Soldiers deployed Monday to sites where demonstrations have taken place during the past two weeks, including in the commercial capital Lagos where several hundred protesters gathered.

The troops also used barricades to block streets in Lagos and were searching cars at roadblocks.

Union leaders pledged earlier to continue the strike Monday after holding talks late Sunday with Mr. Jonathan, but said they were calling off protests because of security concerns.

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

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

The fuel subsidy was one of the few benefits most citizens enjoyed from the country's oil wealth.

President Jonathan has said Nigeria can no longer afford the $8 billion fuel subsidy. He promised to use the money saved 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.