The launch of what unions have labelled an 'indefinite' strike in Nigeria, has led to many injuries and deaths as security forces clash with strikers and protestors. Despite Nigeria having substantial oil reserves, petrol prices have more than doubled in a week, in a country where the vast majority of the population live on less than $2 a day.
In Kano, one of Nigeria’s largest cities, thousands of people surrounded the state governor’s office. The police responded by firing tear gas at the crowd, and shot live rounds into the air.
Protestors set several vehicles alight, and attempted to burn down the home of the chief of the central bank, before security forces intervened. Protestors then moved onto the office of the secretary of the state government, causing severe fire damage.
The Red Cross have reported treating 30 people in Kano, including 18 for gun-shot wounds. Two of them later died of their injuries.
The government have imposed a night time curfew, yet thousands remain on the streets. At the moment, it is unclear whether security forces will enforce the curfew.
Violence has escalated across many other cities in Nigeria. There are numerous reports of police brutality, with many people being treated for gun-shot wounds.
The strike is in response to the government’s decision to end fuel subsidies on January 1st, which has meant that petrol prices more than doubled overnight. This rise has had a profound impact on the vast majority of Nigerians, who live on less than $2 a day. As you would expect, the ‘knock on’ effect of fuel rises has been the sharp increase in the price of food
The government has proudly announced that the countries daily oil production of 2.4 million barrels has not been affected. One of the main complaints of Nigerians is that Nigeria should a relatively wealthy country based on its revenue from oil. However, none of the wealth has been passed on to its people. Rather, it has been creamed off by generations of corrupt governments, leaving ordinary Nigerians in squalor.
Unions have criticised the shootings and police brutality, and have vowed to ‘push ahead’ with their strikes, stating that, “The federal government unleashed its security machinery against the people”.
Troubles in Nigeria have been exacerbated by on-going religious violence between its Muslim and Christian populations.