Nigeria's double trouble: nationwide fuel strike and 'ban' on Christians
Attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram are 'worse than civil war' of 1960s, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says, but a nationwide fuel strike sparked by a cut in subsidies presents him with his toughest challenge.
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In a declaration reputed to have been released by “Occupy Nigeria,” protesters asked why the government chose to cut the subsidy and impose hardship on ordinary Nigerians, rather than going after the corrupt Nigerian bureaucrats and political leaders who had allowed the oil-refining sector to become dilapidated in the first place.Skip to next paragraph
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“If the Federal Government honestly intended to raise funds for development, would it not have cut its own excessive spending? From the Legislative arm to the Executive, their salaries are even higher than that of developed countries, their allowances are ridiculous and looks like figures picked out from a science-fiction movie. Could they not have cut down on their own cost? From food allowances to travel, to clothing to even Newspapers? The only answer is that our Government is selfish and cares only for itself, the Government has failed in the implementation of the budget throughout its existence.”
Prominent Nigerian artists such as playwright Wole Soyinka and novelist Chinua Achebe threw their support behind the protesters with a signed statement, quoted by the Vanguard newspaper over the weekend.
President Jonathan’s decision to remove fuel subsidies in the country at this time was ill-advised. Coming at the advent of the New Year, and barely a week after the gruesome Christmas Day attacks on worshippers, the policy has forced many Nigerian citizens to perceive his leadership as one that is both insensitive and possibly contemptuous of the mood of its people.
We stand with the Nigerian people who are protesting the removal of oil subsidy which has placed an unbearable economic weight on their lives.
Meanwhile, up north, violence continued to take lives as gunmen thought to be from Boko Haram sprayed bullets into a crowd of Christians playing poker in the town of Biu, in the northern state of Borno.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Anthony Olobunmi Okogie in Lagos said in an interview with Vatican Insider website that the violence was not religious per se, but rather an attempt to break up the Nigerian federation for economic gain.
"There is no religious war in Nigeria, but fierce persecution driven by ambitions for power and economic causes," Cardinal Anthony Olobunmi Okogie said in an interview published on the Vatican Insider website. "With true Muslims there are no actual coexistence issues. The terrorists are exploiting religion for the sole purpose of power. Unfortunately the authorities have obviously failed to protect Christian citizens of the North.”