January 16, 2012

Strike-hit Nigeria 'to drop price of petrol'

Motorists queue for fuel at a petrol station in Lagos on 14 January 2012The fuel price rise has hit many Nigerians hard
Mr Jonathan said the price would drop by around 30% in recognition of the "hardships being suffered" by people.
Nigeria has been paralysed by strikes and protests over the government's decision to scrap fuel subsidies.
The removal of subsidies from 1 January caused petrol prices to rise from 65 naira ($0.40; £0.26) to 140 naira.
The unions have yet to respond to Mr Jonathan's announcement.
Earlier, they called off street protests due to security concerns, but warned that a week-long general strike would continue.
Mr Jonathan has admitted there has been a near breakdown in law and order in parts of the country as a result of the strike.
Army checkpoints have been seen in parts of the commercial capital Lagos for the first time since the protests began, the BBC's Mark Lobel reports from the city.
The strike has already cost the economy billions of dollars in lost revenue.
'Stay off the streets'
"Government will continue to pursue full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector," Mr Jonathan said in a televised national address.
"However, given the hardships being suffered by Nigerians, and after due consideration and consultations with state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly, government has approved the reduction of the pump price of petrol to 97 naira (about $0.60) per litre."
Mr Jonathan's speech comes after a weekend of talks with the unions failed to prevent the strike from continuing into a second week.
Abdulwaheed Omar, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress union, said he would urge his members to "stay off the streets... because of the security situation" but stressed the nationwide strike would continue.
Protests over five days last week led to the deaths of several people. Some 600 people were wounded, according to the International Red Cross.
The removal of fuel subsidies on 1 January was a devastating blow to the large number of Nigerians who live in absolute poverty, correspondents say.
The authorities say the subsidy was costing the equivalent of more than $8bn a year, arguing that the money would be better spent on infrastructure and social services.
Oil accounts for some 80% of Nigeria's state revenues but after years of corruption and mismanagement, it has hardly any capacity to refine crude oil into fuel, which has to be imported.

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