Anger at President Goodluck Jonathan’s elimination of the fuel subsidy appears to have united Nigerians in a way not seen for many years. There have been popular protests in virtually all of Nigeria’s major cities. According to the Nigerian press, protestors have shut-down economic activity in Lagos, Ibadan, and Kano. In the capital, Abuja, most gas stations are closed. It is likely that road haulage will decline in the face of a tripling of gasoline prices since the end of the fuel subsidy– most Nigerian goods move by road. It remains to be seen when or if civil aviation will be affected.
In Kano, the metropolis of the predominately Muslim North, the protest was accompanied by a reported accord between Christians and Muslims. There are news photos of Christians providing protection while Muslim protestors pray, and Muslims returning the favor—this in a city that has been a byword for religious hatred and Islamic radicalism. The Kano protestors are demanding restoration of the fuel subsidy and the firing of Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the governor of the central bank (a Muslim from the North), Lamido Sanusi. The powerful Nigeria Bar Association and the National Medical Association are supporting organized labor’s call for a general strike next week. It remains to be seen whether unions in the oil industry will participate. If they do, they have the capacity to shut-down Nigeria’s oil production. In Lagos, apparently some of the police, who are widely hated, joined the protests. I have seen no evidence thus far that they have been joined by soldiers.
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