Jan. 11 - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to scrap fuel subsidies continues to divide the nation. Nick Rowlands reports.
Thousands take to the streets in southern Nigeria: this time to show support for embattled President Goodluck Jonathan over his controversial decision to scrap fuel subsidies. The move has led to two days of protests and workers' strikes across Nigeria which have wreaked havoc with Africa's second largest economy. The solidarity march was attended by political leaders, youth groups, and ex-militants, who urged labour leaders to negotiate with the government to end the stand-off. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JON-JON ONIFERE, IJAW YOUTH LEADER, SAYING: What the federal government just introduced will lead to creation of jobs because Goodluck is introducing productive economy, Goodluck is saying that corruption is mostly caused by a diseased civil service and the NNPC related agencies and in order to put that under control, the fuel subsidy has to go away. At Lagos international airport, an anti-government strike means that not a single aircraft has taken off for three days and hundreds were left stranded as workers call on the president to re-instate the subsidy after fuel costs doubled in a month. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EMMANUEL EBAT, NIGERIAN STUDENT STUDYING IN SOUTH AFRICA, SAYING: "We have been here since Saturday sleeping here, the airlines are ready to work but the so called labour said they don't want the airlines to work, meanwhile this is an international airport not local, I believe they have power over the locals. We are going out here, we are going out of the country and moreover, they are disgracing this country because there are a lot of foreigners here that do not belong to Nigeria and they want to travel back, that is why the people are showing their grievances." Analysts say Jonathan is in a tough spot. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NIGERIAN ANALYST, BISMARCK REWANE, SAYING: "The President is between a rock and a hard place, if he backs down, he loses credibility not only on this issue, on every issue, his ability to govern becomes seriously undermined. At the same time, if he does not give in, he would be considered to be in transit so there has to be a meeting of minds and a negotiated settlement." Despite tens of thousands demonstrating across the country against the fuel subsidy removal, Jonathan shows no sign of backing down. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.