When Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan ended a long-standing subsidy on gas prices on Jan. 1, people immediately hit the streets. Protests spread across the country like wildfire. The two main union federations called a general strike. Millions refused to go to work or school.
The week-long general strike included rallies and mass protests and shut down the two largest cities in the country, Lagos and Kano, and several other urban areas. There was no “business as usual” during this action!
The repeal of the gas subsidy doubled prices overnight. To the overwhelming majority of Nigerians, who earn less than $2 a day, this was a survival issue. Some Nigerians refer to the protest as “Occupy Nigeria,” linking their eruptions to the global movement.
The government killed and wounded demonstrators. But it couldn’t quell the storm. So, on Jan. 17, the president was forced to reinstate two-thirds of the subsidy. With this significant concession, the two union federations suspended the general strike — although some groups had urged that the strikes and protests continue until the subsidies were fully restored. More rounds will be fought in this bout of resistance.
Salute to the Nigerians! They have kept the spark of rebellion burning brightly.