'Tis the season for protests, and Nigeria is not excluded.
Nigeria's main trade union groups Wednesday called for a nationwide strike and mass rallies to protest a controversial government decision to end fuel subsidies; the strike will be indefinite if the decision is not reversed.
Gas prices more than doubled following the removal of the subsidies, which had kept gas costs down for more than two decades, The Associated Press reported. It also triggered a wave of protests in major cities across the oil-rich nation, resulting in the death of at least one person.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Cabinet ministers were meeting in the capital of Abuja Wednesday to discuss a response.
The Nigeria Labour Congress and Trades Union Congress urged the government in a statement Wednesday to restore the subsidies promptly or a coalition of groups will strike starting Monday -- a protest, the unions say, that will paralyze Africa's third-biggest economy.
We call on all Nigerians to participate actively in this movement to rescue our country. The emphasis is on peaceful protests, rallies and strikes while refusing to be intimidated, the union's statement said, adding that the strike can only be stopped if Jonathan restores gas prices back to $1.70 per gallon (or 45 cents per liter), from its new price of at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents per liter.)
All offices, oil production centers, air and sea ports, fuel stations, markets, banks, amongst others will be shut down, the unions said. We advise Nigerians to stockpile basic needs, especially food and water.
Economists warn that the increase in fuel rates is likely to push up prices for food and household items in the country of 167 million people, 70 percent of whom live on $2 a day or less, The Wall Street Journal reported.
You have the perfect storm, said Razia Khan, an economist at Standard Chartered PLC. Nigeria's economy is among the fastest-growing in the world - it's set to expand by 8.5 percent this year.
There's been an incredible amount of spending pushed through the economy, Khan added. None of this suggests to me an environment where there can be any degree of confidence about price stability.
According to analysts, Jonathan is unlikely to yield.