On January 1st of this year, the Nigerian government ended its fuel subsidy program, causing the cost of gasoline to skyrocket to double the usual price. As a result, Nigerians took it to the streets to protest. Stores closed down and protestors filled the streets to voice their outrage on the dramatic increase of the price of gasoline.
Officials say that the subsidy cost nigeria approximately 7 billion dollars a year. The Nigerian government has tried over a long period of time to lift the subsidy, but due to strong opposition, it was unable to until recently. Analysts have argued that getting rid of the subsidy would help Nigeria’s economy, but citizens argue that the problem lies with Nigeria’s corrupt government and not the subsidy itself.
The removal of the fuel subsidy has caused many Nigerian citizens to rise to action and voice their opinions. People argue that nothing good will come out of the 7 billion dollars that would supposedly be saved from removing the subsidy and that as long as Nigeria’s government is in shambles, the poverty stricken areas will not prosper. There are also protestors who say that the removal of the subsidy will go to benefit the rich owners of gas and oil companies, while consumers of gasoline will be faced with the burden.
In order to appease the people, President Goodluck Jonathon recently broadcasted that he would cut the cost of fuel by 30%, realizing that the increase on the price of fuel would have detrimental effects on Nigerians. He also mentioned that the government would give the petroleum sector more freedom and allow them to operate independently from the government.
Nigerian citizens, however, remain unsatisfied with the President’s concession. Many argue that the price of fuel must first be reinstated to its original price and then cut. Most of the protestors who continue to fill the streets, are met with violence by police officers who fire bullets into the air and use tear gas as means of dispersing large crowds of protestors.
What started out as an outcry of the Nigerian people to restore the fuel subsidy has transformed into so much more. Nigerians are tired of elite government officials and owners of oil conglomerates being the only beneficiaries of Nigeria’s resources. It is time to show some concern for the everyday man who lives a life of subsistence in Nigeria. Communities have converged and have started making serious demands from their government and the changes will not end with this fuel subsidy, but will go further with demands being made for better infrastructure and refineries to complement their growing oil production.