Business, Finance & Economics

Nigeria News: Fuel price chaos, terror threats begin 2012



Nigerian union members and demonstrators march in Lagos to protest the removal of petroleum subsidies by the government on January 3, 2012. Nigerian police fired tear gas to disperse a small crowd burning tires in Lagos and arrested demonstrators in the northern city of Kano on Tuesday as protests continued over soaring fuel prices.


Pius Utomi Ekpei

Boko Haram, an Islamist organization bent on establishing Sharia law in all of Nigeria, has issued a threat in the style of the Old West. Christians and government soldiers have three days to clear out of the mostly-Muslim northern states, or else. The deadline is tomorrow.

Over the weekend, Nigerian President Goodluck Johnathan declared a state of emergency in several of those states, and deployed a new counter-terrorism force, according to Bloomberg News. Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin” has been amping up attacks for months, most recently killing 49 people by bombing a Catholic Church as services were ending on Christmas Day.

The International Crisis Group says more than 100 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced by Boko Haram attacks over the past few weeks and fighting has already begun between soldiers and militants, leaving casualties on both sides. The militant organization, which used to be considered a Nigerian-only problem is now a international security threat, destabilizing Africa’s most populous nation and biggest oil producer, according to the Crisis Group.

“Links with al-Qaeda and North African groups may not only have enhanced the sophistication of Boko Haram’s operations,” reads a statement on the Crisis Group webside, “It has infused an international political agenda to its fundamentalist goals.”

Boko Haram’s international agenda became apparent last summer, when 25 were killed in an attack on the United Nations compound in the capital, Abuja. Since the organization began in 2002, it has attacked police stations, bars, churches and Muslim clerics that criticize the organization’s violent tactics.

While Islamists and the army battle it out in the north, the Nigerian government has other security crisis to handle. Protests broke out across Nigeria after Sunday’s announcement that the government would stop the subsidies that have kept fuel prices manageable for decades, according to the Associated Press.

Fuel prices have more than double in the past few days-tripling in some parts of the country- and demonstrators have stormed gas stations, blocked roads and hijacked buses, demanding the subsidy be reinstated, the wire reports. Activists say prices of everything from food to school fees are expected to rise dramatically, a crisis, “capable of compounding the already exacerbated security crisis in the country,” according to the Nigerian Tribune.