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.”
“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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