Nigeria Cuts Fuel Prices After Strike, Protests

Posted January 16th, 2012 at 2:45 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 still 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.”

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 caused the price of gasoline to double last week, and 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.

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

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.