Anarchy warning over Nigeria fuel strike
Wednesday 11 January 2012
A national strike paralysing Nigeria risks "anarchy", the government has warned as demonstrations over spiralling fuel prices entered their third day today.
At least nine people have been killed in violence during the strikes over the government removing subsidies that had kept petrol prices low.
In Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital of 15 million, several hundred protesters took over a major road leading to the islands where the wealthy live. One protester carried a signed that read: "We are ready for the civil war."
Attorney General Mohammed Bello Adoke described the strike by major unions as illegal, and warned public workers that the government would implement a "no work, no pay" policy for those who join the strike.
However public workers sometimes go weeks without pay in Nigeria, where corruption and mismanagement has plagued government for decades.
"Continuing disregard of that order is (dangerous) to the public interest as it constitutes an open invitation to anarchy," Mr Adoke said.
The nationwide strike, which began on Monday, came after President Goodluck Jonathan removed subsidies on January 1 that had kept petrol prices low. Overnight, prices at the pump more than doubled to at least £2.26 per gallon. The costs of food and transportation also doubled in a nation where most live on less than £1.30 a day.
Mr Jonathan insists the move was necessary to save the country money which he promises will go toward badly needed road and public projects. However, protesters - who joined the strike under the slogan of "Occupy Nigeria" - say the time has come to end government corruption in a nation where military rulers and politicians have stolen billions.
Tens of thousands have protested across the country since the strike started. Anger over the government's action has spurred violence in a country already facing uneasy religious and ethnic divisions.
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