Strike-hit Nigeria ‘to drop price of petrol’

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has announced an immediate drop in the price of fuel, following a week of strikes and protests.

Mr Jonathan said the price would drop by around 30% in recognition of the “hardships being suffered” by people.

Nigeria has been paralysed by strikes and protests over the government’s decision to scrap fuel subsidies.

The removal of subsidies from 1 January caused petrol prices to rise from 65 naira ($0.40; £0.26) to 140 naira.

Earlier, the unions said they had decided to call off street protests due to security concerns, but warned that a week-long general strike would go on.

The strike has already cost the economy billions of dollars in lost revenue.

“Government will continue to pursue full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector,” Mr Jonathan said in a televised national address.

“However, given the hardships being suffered by Nigerians, and after due consideration and consultations with state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly, government has approved the reduction of the pump price of petrol to 97 naira (about $0.60) per litre.”

The removal of fuel subsidies on 1 January was a devastating blow to the large number of Nigerians who live in absolute poverty, correspondents say.

The authorities say the subsidy was costing the equivalent of more than $8bn a year, arguing that the money would be better spent on infrastructure and social services.

Oil accounts for some 80% of Nigeria’s state revenues but after years of corruption and mismanagement, it has hardly any capacity to refine crude oil into fuel, which has to be imported.