Nigeria Cuts Fuel Prices, Halting Strikes

But some say renewed subsidies fall short
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 16, 2012 11:10 AM CST
Angry youths shout slogans at a protest in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, Jan. 16, 2012.   (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
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(Newser) – Strikes that shut down Nigeria's economy last week are off—at least temporarily—after the country's president announced new fuel subsidies. President Goodluck Jonathan has slashed fuel prices by a third to 97 naira per liter, or $2.27 per gallon, after they more than doubled Jan. 1, when earlier subsidies ended. The new subsidy still leaves prices 50% higher than they were before the new year, and though unions have suspended strikes, some doubt remains that they could resume, Reuters reports.

"In the past eight days through strikes, mass rallies, shutdown, debates, and street protests, Nigerians demonstrated clearly that they cannot be taken for granted and that sovereignty belongs to them," said the head of the Nigerian Labour Congress. But "people are still angry," a demonstrator tells the Wall Street Journal. "They say it's 65 naira or else…People are going to come back out." Meanwhile, Jonathan's announcement of the subsidy contained an "implicit threat to the unions," an analyst notes: The president's agenda of spending cuts could "lead to job losses, and that's a big fight for the unions." (Read more Nigeria stories.)

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