By Jenny White
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan announced Jan. 16 that the government would reduce gasoline prices in the country after weeks of protest and strike.
Protests broke out in Nigeria at the beginning of January over the country’s removal of its fuel subsidy, resulting in a spike in gasoline prices, according to an article in Time magazine on Jan. 12.
Since Jan. 3, protests have spread across the nation and have undergone different stages in severity.
Nigerian soldiers were deployed in various cities, with the majority sent to the financial and political epicenter of Lagos to demand compliance with union policies regarding the raising of fuel prices.
Deploying soldiers to the streets stopped demonstrators from gathering in Lagos. At one point soldiers fired over the heads of marchers, but no one was shot, according to CNN on Jan. 12.
Despite this demonstration of actual military threat, Yinka Odumakin, spokesman of the Save Nigeria Group, questioned the move because the protests have been peaceful.
The threat of these protests has been brewing for months. Despite being one of Africa’s oil giants, Nigeria itself has no working refineries and relies on imports for its oil, said
Nigerians say this is the last straw in a country that is rich with oil reserves, but whose people live on less than $2 a day, according to U.N. statistics cited in a Jan. 12 CNN article.
But the struggle is not over yet, and many protestors say they will not quit until they see gas prices return to $1.70 per gallon, according to occupywallst.org.
Union leaders have called the protests a victory for unions and have allowed its leaders to guide the country’s policy on fuel subsidies while dropping gas prices to about $2.27 per gallon. This is an improvement from the initial spike in prices, according to a Jan. 10 article on occupywallst.org.
Protestors are also speaking out against the amount of government corruption in Nigeria. The extensive use of military force to demand compliance with new fuel policies was a catalyst for outrage, said one CNN article on Jan. 14.
The fuel-subsidy protests, organized primarily by Nigeria’s socialist and labor movements, have taken on the name Occupy Nigeria.
The protestors say this movement has been way overdue, as the cost of living in Nigeria has risen exponentially over the past decade, according to a Time magazine article on Jan. 12.