Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Protests over higher fuel prices begin

Unions and other civil society groups have begun protesting the removal of fuel subsidies by Nigeria's government. Will the government be able to resist the popular pressure to restore the subsidy? Will civil society be able to achieve its demands?

Nigerians protest at removal of fuel subsidy
Thousands of Nigerians are taking part in protests around the country following the removal of a fuel subsidy, which has doubled petrol prices and transport fares.

Trade unionists have marched in the biggest city, Lagos. They are to meet on Wednesday to decide on strike plans…

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer, but imports refined petrol.

Years of mismanagement and corruption mean it does not have the capacity to refine oil into into petrol and other fuels.

Analysts say many Nigerians regard cheap fuel as the only benefit they get from the nation's oil wealth.

Several previous governments have tried to remove the subsidy but have backed down in the face of widespread public protests and reduced it instead…

Prices have increased from 65 naira ($0.40; £0.26) per litre to at least 140 naira in filling stations and from 100 naira to at least 200 on the black market, where many Nigerians buy their fuel.

There are reports that petrol prices have tripled in some remote areas, while commuters have complained that motorcycle and minibus taxi fares have already doubled or tripled.

Many Nigerians expect the prices of other goods to rise as well.

The government has said it will spend the money saved by removing the subsidy on improving the country's erratic electricity supply, as well as health and education.

However, analysts say that many Nigerians have little faith that the money will be well spent and fear it will instead be stolen by corrupt officials…

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