General strike rages in Nigeria

21 January 2012

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Political and economic activities have been paralyzed for close to two weeks in Nigeria due to the Nigerian people’s strong opposition to the hike in oil prices. The people’s general strike erupted when Pres. Goodluck Jonathan’s government withdrew oil subsidies on January 1. The government had provided up to $8 billion in subsidies to keep the prices of petroleum products stable. The move has already caused two oil price hikes followed by increases in transport fares and food prices.

The strike was launched by the two biggest unions of workers in the oil industry. Tens of thousands of people supported the strike and launched general protests. They called for the immediate reduction of oil prices and the resignation of President Jonathan.

The Nigerian government justified its acts, saying it needed funds for other government uses such as maintaining infrastructure. In fact, the move formed part of a scheme to fully deregulate the country’s oil industry. Imperialist institutions, neoliberalists and the oil giants have long been pushing for deregulation.

Nigeria is a country in western Africa. As a mark of crisis, oil prices rose 130% in the country, which is among the world’s leading producers of petroleum products. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest and the world’s 12th largest oil producer.