1/10/2012

NIGERIA: HIGHER FUEL PRICES, GENERAL STRIKE CALLED

© 2011 MISNA - Missionary International Service News Agency

Anticipation and tension in Nigeria today, in anticipation of a general strike called to protest against the recent hike in gasoline prices after a weekend marked by violence attributed to Islamic armed group Boko Haram.
Missionaries contacted by MISNA spoke of the uncertainty related to the strike and the demonstrations, starting today, by the main confederations of trade unions to protest against the abolition of subsidies that for years had kept prices low for gasoline.
“The events of the recent days have not degenerated into widespread violence especially for the responsible conduct shown by  police which did not respond to provocations,” said to MISNA Father Vincent Morris, a Salesian missionary who lives in the southwestern city of Ibadan.
Parliament also advised against the scrapping of subsidies over the weekend adopting a resolution which requests the withdrawal of the measure and the opening of a discussion between the government and unions.
The protests caused by rising prices, beginning at the start of the year from 65 to over 140 naira per liter, from 30 to nearly 70 cents, pushed President Goodluck Jonathan to give a speech on live television. In his speech the head of state argued that the “deregulation” is the only way to fight corruption and “unleash the potential for growth” for the economy.
The clash on the ban on subsidies is likely to fuel another food crisis, linked to attacks and violence Boko Haram in recent weeks that have struck many times the Christian communities in central and semi-arid north of Nigeria and the Muslim majority. Jonathan, president of the original oil and the Christian South, said yesterday that the security situation is even “more complex” than that of the civil war fought between 1967 and 1970. Jonathan in particular denounced the “infiltration” of Boko Haram in the institutional apparatus and state security. Between Friday and Saturday night, the group had claimed responsibility for attacks against Christian communities in the city of Yola and Mubi, in northeastern Adamawa State, which is beleived to have killed at least 29 people.