- Title: NIGERIA: Nigerians protest over fuel price for second day
- Date: 11th January 2012
- Summary: LAGOS, NIGERIA (JANUARY 10, 2012) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS CHANTING AT LAGOS ISLAND
- Embargoed: 26th January 2012 12:00
- Location: Nigeria, Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA3YHY0AKTTY3K4GFLXANECF892
- Story Text: Tens of thousands of Nigerians took to the streets for a second day on Tuesday (January 10) and many more stayed off work nation-wide to try to force President Goodluck Jonathan to rescind a removal of subsidies that has doubled the price of petrol.
Africa's biggest oil producer on Jan. 1 scrapped subsidies on imports of motor fuel, which many citizens see as their only welfare benefit, pushing the price of petrol to about 150 naira ($0.93) a litre and sparking protests across the country.
Banks, government offices and large company buildings were closed but some markets stalls and small shops opened their doors, in a country where many survive on less than $2 a day and cannot afford price hikes.
"We are expecting him to change his mind (President Jonathan) but in a situation where he is not ready to change his mind, I believe we are going to continue the strike, by the time we continue the strike, paralyse the economy totally, he would know that his government is affecting all Nigerians. You can see for yourself, we are very many, the masses are trooping out, we are trying to make him realise we voted him there, he is not the one that put himself there. We tried our best to come out on that very day, we voted him there, he is supposed to open his ear to hear what the masses are saying," said Kayode Bayewu, an outdoor advertising agent.
The multi-lane highways of the heaving commercial hub Lagos, usually notorious for their traffic jams, were largely empty.
Another demonstrator, businessman Hakeem Ayomire, accused the president of forgetting the people who voted him into power.
"Someone (President Jonathan) that is there that is supposed to fight for our own right, is now fighting against us now. We are not requesting for anything, just give us our right, We voted for you, now give us back our votes, we want our votes back, just give us our votes," said Ayomire.
A group of youths set up a road block of burning tyres on the main bridge over the lagoon connecting the city's two islands to the mainland, shouting at cars to turn back.
Police shot dead three protesters and wounded more than two dozen on Monday after firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrations in Lagos and the largest northern city of Kano.
Tens of thousands marched the streets up and down the country. Most international flights into Nigeria were cancelled.
Unions expressed anger at the deaths of demonstrators and urged members and the public to continue the indefinite strike until Jonathan reversed government's subsidy removal.
Jonathan has said he will not back down on the decision to remove the subsidy that economists said was corrupt and wasteful, sending billions of dollars of public funds into the hands of a cartel of fuel marketers and oil importers.
The government estimates it will save 1 trillion naira ($6 billion) this year by eliminating it. The subsidy has also encouraged smuggling into neighbouring nations such as Benin and Cameroon where fuel is more expensive.
But most Nigerians have benefited little from state funds and the government's pledge that money saved from the subsidy removal will be pumped into poverty safety nets sounds like a tired, empty promise.
Decades of corruption has left power and transport networks rundown, while the state education and healthcare systems have worsened, despite over $200 million a day worth of oil leaving Nigeria's shores, and many politicians growing rich.
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