Nigerian workers halt street action after cut in fuel prices
ABUJA - Reuters
A man protests the removal of a fuel subsidy by the government in Lagos, Nigeria, on Jan 12 with a placard saying ‘ President Jonathan should go or die like Gadafi.’ AP photoNigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday petrol prices would be reduced to 97 naira ($0.60) a liter and labor unions agreed to suspend mass protests to allow further negotiations.
Tens of thousands took to the streets for strikes over five successive days last week in protest against the sudden removal of a fuel subsidy on Jan. 1 that more than doubled the pump price of petrol to 150 naira per liter from 65 naira.
“The government will continue to pursue full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. However, given the hardships being suffered by Nigerians, and after due consideration and consultations ... government has approved the reduction of the pump price of petrol,” Jonathan said in a pre-recorded speech.
Nigeria’s main labor unions said they would suspend street protests but strikes that have paralyzed Africa’s second-largest economy were to go ahead pending further talks.
“Labor has asked our members to sit at home today. No protest and no rallies,” said Chika Onuegbu, an official at Nigeria’s main oil union PENGASSAN and umbrella labor union Trade Union Congress.
PENGASSAN previously said it would cut oil output from Africa’s largest producer if government talks broke down.
Global oil prices were boosted by Nigeria supply fears late last week and a serious production outage would push them sharply higher, according to traders and analysts.
Several people were killed in clashes with police last week and 600 were treated for wounds, according to the International Red Cross.
Nigeria produces more than 2 million barrels of crude oil a day, but due to decades of corruption and mismanagement it has to import almost all its refined fuel needs.