Nigerians furious over gasoline prices and government corruption clashed with police as a nationwide strike began Monday, the latest iteration of an ongoing protest dubbed “Occupy Nigeria.”
The Associated Press reports that more than 10,000 people converged in the commercial capitol of Lagos, where some protesters used gasoline to set tires on fire. The protesters reported that at least one person was shot dead in a clash with police. In the northern city of Kano, security officers used tear gas and fired at a crowd outside a local governor’s office, injuring 18. Elsewhere, protesters held posters featuring an effigy of President Goodluck Jonathan in devil horns and fanged teeth. The president was shown pumping fuel at a gas station.
“Our leaders are not concerned about Nigerians. They are concerned about themselves,” protester Joseph Adekolu, a 42-year-old accountant, told the AP.
Protests began in Nigeria shortly after Jonathan announced Jan. 1 that the government would remove decades-old fuel subsidies.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that most of the country’s 150 million citizens live on less than $2 a day, and so will be hugely impacted by the subsidies’ removal, which will instantly raise the cost of a liter of gasoline from 41 to 89 cents.
While he says he understands his citizens’ anger, Jonathan argues that the subsidy takes up almost 25 percent of the annual budget. In a televised speech, the president said:
“My fellow Nigerians, the truth is … either we deregulate and survive economically, or we continue with a subsidy regime that will continue to undermine our economy and potential for growth, and face serious consequences.”
His speech seemed to have little effect on the protesters, who said Monday would be the first day of an indefinite strike. BBC reports that shops, offices, schools and gas stations across the country were shut. Watch video of the protests, from the southern town of Port Harcourt:
Watch footage of the police and protesters’ clash in Kano:
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