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Crude Tragedy: Nigeria Repression and Austerity Lead to General Strike
WASHINGTON - January 9 - BBC reports: “A general strike in Nigeria over the elimination of a fuel subsidy has brought the country to a standstill. Shops, offices, schools and petrol stations around the country closed on the first day of an indefinite strike.
“In Lagos and other cities, thousands marched against the removal of the subsidy, which has doubled fuel costs. Police fired on protesters in Kano in the north, reportedly killing two and wounding many. Another demonstrator died in a clash with police in Lagos.”
Solidarity protests are also being held outside the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. today.
NNIMMO BASSEY, nnimmo at eraction.org
Bassey is board chair of Friends of the Earth International and 2010 Right Livelihood Award winner. He just wrote a piece titled “Oil Subsidy: Fight Corruption, Not the People,” which states: “The entire subsidy saga is based on the importation of refined petroleum products. [T]he ultimate winner is the cabal the government fingers as robbing the public coffers. Since the government still embarks on buying imported petrol rather than refining the product at home.”
OMOYELE SOWORE, sowore at gmail.com
Sowore is from Nigeria and is reporting for Sahara Reports. He said today: “This fuel price hike comes at a most unwelcome time. The country is in crisis due to the state of emergency declared by the President in the conflict with Boko Haram, the Islamic militant group based in the Northern part of Nigeria. In addition, we are still uncertain as to the severity of the recent oil spills — there appear to have been several — and what Shell Oil is doing to clean up its mess.”
ANIEDI OKURE, director at afjn.org
Okure is executive director of Africa Faith and Justice Network, a community of advocates for responsible U.S. relations with Africa. He said today: “The current government claims that raising the price of gasoline is necessary to raise funds, but the fact is that the oil companies are the ones who should be paying first. Gas flaring is technically illegal but very commonly done by oil companies in Nigeria. If the law were properly applied, the government could raise significant money from fees associated with this illegal flaring for much needed investment in health care, education and infrastructure. Instead the government has chosen to go after poor consumers – the 99% – instead of the top 1% who continue to game the system.”
EMIRA WOODS, emira at ips-dc.org, also via Lacy MacAuley, lacy at ips-dc.org
Woods is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. She said today: “The IMF and World Bank continue to preach their market fundamentalism despite the obvious failure of the religion. As Europe reaps bitter rewards for its commitment to austerity, countries like Nigeria continue to face pressure to move towards a deregulated market-based development strategy. The decision of what economic path to take in Nigeria is best left to Nigerians. And Nigerians, including the current government, would do well to consider the failure of the market fundamentalist preachers and consider an alternative course.”