Business, Finance & Economics

Nigeria calls indefinite strike over fuel subsidy cut


An attendant sells fuel in a jerry can at a filling station in Lagos on November 10, 2011.



Nigeria's biggest unions have called an indefinite strike over the government's controversial decision to cancel fuel subsidies.

The surprise cut has more than doubled gas prices since it came into effect on New Year's Day and prompted furious protests in which at least one person has died, according to national newspaper the Nation.

Today, representatives the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress gave the government until Jan. 9 to reverse the decision or face a nationwide strike, Nigeria's Daily Times reported.

More from GlobalPost: Nigerians plan mass strike as fuel subsidy ends

The strike would not be called off until gas is restored to its subsidized price of 65 naira ($0.40) per liter, the unions said. Without the subsidy, prices have reportedly risen to 141 naira ($0.88) or higher. 

Labor leaders are warning Nigerians to stock up on food and stay indoors from Monday unless they intend to join the mass protests planned, the Times said.

A man was killed in the city of Ilorin yesterday as rallies spread further across the country, according to This Day, which described scenes of chaos in Lagos, Kano, Uyo, Ibadan and Bayelsa. 

President Goodluck Jonathan has called a crisis meeting of the Federal Executive Council, This Day said, which may see the government declare a state of emergency in the most volatile areas.

The governor of Nigeria's Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido, told the BBC that the subsidy cost the government $8 billion last year alone, making it "unsustainable." The government says the money saved will be put toward infrastructure, health and education improvements.

Nigeria's decision follows similar moves in Ghana, Guinea, Cameroon and Chad, according to This Day, which has prompted speculation that African governments are under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to cut their spending on costly subsidies.