Elizabeth Boomer of the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department sends us this report.
Protestors rallied outside the World Bank building in Washington, D.C., yesterday in support of Nigeria’s nation-wide strike opposing the soaring price of fuel. After the government ended fuel subsidies Jan. 1, prices doubled overnight. Today in Nigeria, tens of thousands marched in the streets across the country.
The Washington action was aimed at the international financial institutions that have long argued against domestic fuel subsidies in Nigeria where long-term mismanagement and corruption have forced it to import 70 percent of its fuel, even while it is the 10th largest producer of crude oil in the world.
The sudden removal of fuel subsidies in Nigeria, where the majority of people live on less than $2 a day, affects workers’ and families’ core economic decisions, including whether to pay for their children’s school fees this term or to go to the doctor this month. Higher fuel costs are also expected to raise food prices in Africa’s most populous country, an issue that could affect an entire region that is suffering from food price volatility.
President Goodluck Jonathon’s government has ignored calls from Nigerian labor movement and others for substantive dialogue on the issue. On Jan. 6, a judicial order was issued to stop the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) from holding the strike that is now in its second day. Yesterday, legislators across the political spectrum held an emergency session in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, calling for the president to reverse his decision. So far, police response to the mostly peaceful protests has resulted in the death of at least one protester and injuries to more than a dozen.
The AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with Nigerian workers who are peacefully protesting the removal of fuel subsidies in their country. We strongly condemn all acts of violence targeted at intimidating and threatening peaceful protesters.