Wednesday, February 8, 2012

NIGERIA: Never so divided, never so united

Irin News
3 February 2012

Thousands of city residents nationwide demonstrated, mostly in orderly protest, against a government announcement lifting the subsidy on petrolLAGOS, 3 February 2012 (IRIN) - A month after an angry public launched protests across Nigeria over skyrocketing fuel prices due to the removal of a government subsidy, a measure of calm has returned and people seem to have settled into accepting a compromise.

The removal of the subsidy on 1 January raised petrol prices from 65 naira to 141 naira (40 to 90 US cents) per litre, and led to sharp increases in food and transport costs.

The public response was swift and widespread. Led by labour unions, professional groups and civil society, different communities across this nation of 167 million people marched through the streets, paralysing businesses and even threatening to shut down the oil industry. A stunned government backed down, settling for a 50 percent rather than a more than 100 percent hike in the fuel price.

"Nigeria has never been this divided since the civil war, and yet the country has never been this united in protest in its history," said Hussaini Abdu, a public policy analyst and director of ActionAid Nigeria.

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