Nigeria’s former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari has a narrow lead over incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in the country’s presidential election, partial results show.
With more than half of Nigeria’s 36 states declared, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) is ahead by half a million votes.
A victory for Muhammadu Buhari would make President Goodluck Jonathan the first incumbent to lose an election in Nigeria.
Correspondents say it is likely the loser will allege foul play.
More than 800 people were killed in protests after Goodluck Jonathan beat Muhammadu Buhari in the previous election.
Muhammadu Buhari’s lead was cut from two million votes, after Goodluck Jonathan gained a landslide in Rivers State, where there have been widespread reports of irregularities and a curfew imposed.
Nigeria’s electoral commission (INEC) chairman, Attahiru Jega, said the fact-finding team sent to the state found there were some voting irregularities with the poll but not enough “to warrant a cancellation of the election”.
However, many of the states still to declare are in the north, where Muhammadu Buhari is seen as favorite.
Earlier, the announcement of results was disrupted when an agent of Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) launched a tirade against Attahiru Jega in Abuja.
“We have lost confidence in what you’re doing, we don’t believe in you anymore,” Elder Orubebe said.
Rejecting the allegation, Attahiru Jega replied: “Let us be careful about what we say or do and let us not dispute a process that has begun peacefully.”
Muhammadu Buhari has won the two biggest states, Lagos in the south and Kano in the north, while Goodluck Jonathan won a huge majority in his home state of Bayelsa, as well as Rivers.
The candidate with the most votes will only avoid a run-off if they gain at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states.
International observers have broadly praised the conduct of the vote but there has been some concern over possible efforts to rig the outcome during the count.
The US and UK have expressed their concerns over potential “political interference” during the count.
A spokesman from INEC dismissed these fears, saying that “there is absolutely no basis” to talk of meddling.
Authorities in Rivers State announced a curfew on March 30 after protests over alleged vote rigging.
Earlier, police in the state used teargas against female opposition protesters who were attempting to lodge complaints with election officials.
Voting spilled into Sunday in some parts of Nigeria after problems were encountered with new electronic card readers, which were introduced to prevent fraud.
President Goodluck Jonathan, whose PDP has dominated Nigerian politics since 1999, was among those whose registration to vote was delayed by the technology.
Attahiru Jega said only a fraction of the 150,000 card readers being used nationwide had failed.
Gen. Muhammadu Buhari: 10,454,137 votes;
Passed 25% threshold in 16 states
Goodluck Jonathan: 9,953,432 votes;
Passed 25% threshold in 20 states
Results from 25 states + Abuja
Candidates needs 25% in 24 states for first-round victory
Voting in parts of Nigeria have been extended until Sunday, March 29, after delays and a number of attacks.
Technical problems with new biometric cards slowed down voter registration, even affecting President Goodluck Jonathan.
More than 20 people have reportedly been killed in various attacks by unknown gunmen.
Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan is facing a strong challenge from Muhammadu Buhari.
The election is said to be the most closely fought since independence.
It was postponed from mid-February to allow the army time to recapture territory from the Islamist militants of Boko Haram.
The two main candidates had pledged to prevent violence during and in the aftermath of the elections.
Several hours after voting started, reports came in of violent incidents at polling stations in which at least 24 were reported to have been killed.
Thousands of Nigerians turned out to vote, despite threats from Boko Haram to disrupt the poll.
Voters are also electing members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
According to the Transitional Monitoring Group (TMG), the largest body observing the elections, voting had started in 75% of polling stations, while 92% had the materials they need to start the process.
Voters need to register using biometric cards with their fingerprints before they can cast their vote.
However, there have been problems with card readers at many polling stations.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the accreditation process had “gone on well in several places”, but was “slow” or had “not commenced at all” in others.
Goodluck Jonathan tried for some 50 minutes to register in his home village of Otuoke, before coming back a second time. When the electronic registration failed again, he had to be accredited manually before casting his ballot paper.
Problems were also reported from the north’s biggest city of Kano, where thousands of voters waited for election officials and voting materials to arrive.
Gen. Muhammadu Buhari did not have any problems registering in his hometown, Daura.
Attacks were reported in north-eastern Gombe state, including incidents where gunmen opened fire on voters at polling stations.
It is unclear whether the attacks were the work of Boko Haram militants or political thugs.
Nigeria has postponed the February 14 presidential election to March 28 over concerns about the security situation.
The country’s electoral commission chief Attahiru Jega said he had been told troops would not be available to help patrol the ballot because they would be fighting Boko Haram militants in the north-east.
Nigeria and four other states plan to deploy a joint force of 8,700 soldiers.
Both the Nigerian opposition and the US criticized the delay.
The head of the party of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who is challenging incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, said the “provocative” move was a “major setback for Nigerian democracy”.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was “deeply disappointed”, adding: “Political interference with the Independent National Electoral Commission is unacceptable, and it is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process.”
Officials from the main opposition party accuse the military of forcing the electoral commission into the delay to help the sitting president’s campaign.
It looks set to be a tight race between Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari and the postponement may well increase the tension which is already palpable.
“The commission cannot lightly wave off the advice of the nation’s security chiefs,” said Attahiru Jega.
“The risk of deploying young men and women and calling people to exercise their democratic rights in a situation where their security cannot be guaranteed is a most onerous responsibility.”
Parliamentary elections due to take place on February 14 have also been postponed to March 28.
Elections for state governors and assemblies slated for February 28 have been moved to April 11.
John Odigie-Oyegun, chairman of Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress, said: “I strongly appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm and deist from violence and any activity which will compound this unfortunate development.”
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has declared the outbreak of Ebola “a national emergency” and approved more than $11 million to help contain it.
The move comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) said the spread of the virus in West Africa was an international health emergency.
WHO says 961 people have died from Ebola in West Africa this year, two of them in Nigeria.
The total number of cases stands at 1,779, the UN health agency said.
In a statement, President Goodluck Jonathan called on Nigerians to report any suspected Ebola cases to the nearest medical authorities.
Goodluck Jonathan also urged the public not to spread “false information about Ebola which can lead to mass hysteria”.
Nigeria has declared the outbreak of Ebola a national emergency
Nigeria became the fourth West African country involved in the outbreak when a dual US-Liberian citizen infected with Ebola arrived in Lagos after flying from Liberia via Togo on 20 July.
He died five days later and eight people who came into contact with him were also later diagnosed with Ebola. One of them, a nurse, died on Tuesday.
Nigeria’s state oil company said on Friday it had shut down one of its clinics in Lagos following a suspected case.
US health authorities said on Friday they were sending extra personnel and resources to Nigeria.
“We are starting to ramp up our staffing in Lagos,” US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention spokesman Tom Skinner told AFP news agency.
“We are really concerned about Lagos and the potential for spread there, given the fact that Lagos – and Nigeria for that matter – has never seen Ebola.”
International companies are also taking protective measures and the world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, says it has begun evacuating some workers at its iron ore mines in Liberia.
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have already declared national emergencies over the spread of the virus.
WHO said on Friday that 68 new cases and 29 deaths were reported over the course of two days this week.
They included 26 new cases in Sierra Leone and 38 in Liberia, but no new cases in Guinea, where the outbreak began.
The agency said a co-ordinated response was essential to reverse the spread of the virus.
“The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus,” WHO said after a meeting on Friday.
The Ebola virus was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. Experts say this outbreak is unusual because it started in Guinea, which has never before been affected, and is spreading to urban areas.
Two US citizens infected with Ebola while working in West Africa are currently being treated at a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Both have been treated with an experimental drug.
Malala Yousafzai has met Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan to press for more action to free at least 200 girls held by Boko Haram Islamist militants.
Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau has reiterated in a new video message that he is prepared to negotiate a prisoner swap for them.
He also expressed support for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of a new Middle Eastern state.
Boko Haram sparked a global outcry when it abducted the girls three months ago.
Goodluck Jonathan’s government has faced strong criticism for not doing enough to curb violence by Boko Haram, especially in the wake of the kidnappings.
Malala Yousafzai has met Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan to press for more action to free at least 200 girls held by Boko Haram Islamist militants
Pakistani rights activist Malala Yousafzai, 17, met Goodluck Jonathan in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and urged him to meet the families of the kidnapped girls.
She also met relatives of the girls on Sunday, and expressed solidarity with them.
President Goodluck Jonathan has not spoken to the relatives, exactly three months after the abductions.
The military has also failed to debrief some of the girls who managed to escape from captivity, he says.
In a statement after his meeting with Malala Yousafzai, President Goodluck Jonathan said he would meet with the parents before they left Abuja “to personally comfort them and reassure them” that the government was doing “all within its powers to rescue their daughters”.
The notion that the government has not been doing enough to find and rescue the girls was “very wrong and misplaced”, the statement said.
“Terror is relatively new here and dealing with it has its challenges. The great challenge in rescuing the Chibok girls is the need to ensure that they are rescued alive,” Goodluck Jonathan said.
After meeting the parents, Malala Yousafzai said she understood their suffering.
“It’s quite difficult for a parent to know that their daughter is in great danger. My birthday wish this year is… bring back our girls now, and alive.”
Two years ago, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Pakistani Taliban militants for campaigning for girls’ education.
Nigeria has called off a deal with Islamist group Boko Haram for the release of some of the abducted schoolgirls.
Some of the girls were set to be freed in exchange for imprisoned Islamist militants.
Boko Haram group snatched more than 200 girls from a school on April 14.
Nigeria’s government is under pressure to do more to tackle the group and bring about the girls’ release.
Nigeria has called off a deal with Islamist group Boko Haram for the release of some of the abducted schoolgirls
Thousands of people have died since Boko Haram began a violent campaign against the Nigerian government in 2009 and in the subsequent security crackdown.
Officials have held talks with the group to secure the release of the schoolgirls.
An intermediary met Boko Haram leaders earlier this month and visited the location in north-east Nigeria where the girls were being held.
A deal was almost reached to set some of the girls free in exchange for the release of 100 Boko Haram members being held in detention.
But the government cancelled the planned agreement shortly before the swap was due to take place.
The reasons for the withdrawal are unclear.
It came just after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan attended a meeting in Paris hosted by President Francois Hollande of France where leaders said they had agreed a “global and regional action plan” against Boko Haram.
The girls, who were mainly Christian, were taken from their school in Chibok, in north-eastern Borno state and are thought to be held in a remote forested area of the state, close to the border with Chad and Cameroon.
Nigeria previously insisted it would not agree to free Boko Haram members in return for their release.
The UK, the US, China and France are among the countries to have sent teams of experts and equipment to help to locate them.
Two bomb explosions killed at least 46 people in the central Nigerian city of Jos, police say.
The first blast was in a busy market and the second went off outside a nearby hospital.
No group has said it carried out the attack but Boko Haram militants have carried out a spate of recent bombings.
Jos has also seen deadly clashes between Christian and Muslim groups in recent years.
Two bomb explosions killed at least 46 people in the central Nigerian city of Jos (photo Reuters)
A spokesperson for the regional governor told AFP news agency that most of the victims were women. The market and bus terminal are part of the commercial centre of Jos.
The second blast was some 30 minutes after the first and killed some rescue workers.
President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the attack as a “tragic assault on human freedom”.
“President Jonathan assures all Nigerians that the government remains fully committed to winning the war against terror and… will not be cowed by the atrocities of enemies of human progress and civilization,” his office said.
Although Boko Haram has previously targeted Jos, the capital of Plateau state, the city has been relatively calm for almost two years.
Plateau state lies on the fault-line which divides Nigeria’s largely Muslim north from its mainly Christian south.
The state has witnessed violence blamed on land disputes between semi-nomadic Muslim Fulani herdsmen and mainly Christian Berom farmers.
Nigeria is also currently trying to trace more than 200 girls captured by Boko Haram in April from a boarding school in the north-eastern town of Chibok.
The US is flying manned surveillance missions over Nigeria to try to find more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
The US is also sharing commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerian government, officials said.
It comes after militants released a video of about 130 girls, saying they could be swapped for jailed fighters.
Boko Haram seized them from a school in the northern Borno state on 14 April.
“We have shared commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerians and are flying manned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets over Nigeria with the government’s permission,” said a senior administration official, who declined to be named.
A team of about 30 US experts – members of the FBI and defense and state departments – is in Nigeria to help with the search.
The types of aircraft deployed have not been revealed, but the US has sophisticated planes that can listen into a wide range of mobile phone and telecommunications traffic.
The US is flying manned surveillance missions over Nigeria to try to find more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram
Other officials, quoted by Reuters, said the US was also considering deploying unmanned “drone” aircraft to aid the search.
US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier on Monday that intelligence experts were closely examining the Boko Haram video for clues that might help locate the girls.
Pogu Bitrus, a leader in the town of Chibok, from where the girls were seized, said vegetation in the video resembled that in the nearby Sambisa forest reserve.
The video showed some 136 girls wearing bulky hijabs. Militants said they had “converted” to Islam.
The girls’ families have said that most of those seized are Christians.
Two girls on the video singled out for questioning said they were Christians but had converted to Islam.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said the girls could be exchanged for “our brethren in your prison”.
“I swear to almighty Allah, you will not see them again until you release our brothers that you have captured,” he said.
In a video last week, Abubakar Shekau threatened to sell the girls into slavery.
A Nigerian government statement said “all options” for the girls’ release were on the table.
However, Interior Minister Abba Moro appeared to dismiss the offer, saying no exchange would take place. The reason for the discrepancy was unclear.
It appears some sort of negotiations will take place because of the large presence of international advisers in the country, including hostage negotiators.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, had previously said the girls should not have been at school and should get married instead.
The militants have been engaged in a violent campaign against the Nigerian government since 2009.
President Goodluck Jonathan – whose government has been heavily criticized for its response to the abduction – said on Sunday that help from abroad had made him optimistic of finding the girls.
He says he believes the girls are still in Nigeria.
The kidnapping has triggered a huge international campaign with world leaders and celebrities calling for the children to be released.
The UK, the US, France and China already have teams helping on the ground in Nigeria. An Israeli counter-terrorism team is also on its way.
According to Amnesty International, Nigeria’s military had advance warning of an attack on Chibok, where some 270 girls were kidnapped but failed to act.
The human rights group says it was told by credible sources that the military had more than four hours’ warning of the raid by Boko Haram militants.
Fifty-three of the girls escaped soon after being seized in Chibok on April 14 but more than 200 remain captive.
Nigeria’s authorities say they “doubt the veracity” of the Amnesty report.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said on Friday that he believed the schoolgirls were still in his country and had not been moved to neighboring Cameroon.
Fifty-three of the girls escaped soon after being seized in Chibok on April 14 but more than 200 remain captive
“There are stories that they have moved them outside of the country. But if they move that number of girls to Cameroon, people will see, so I believe they are still in Nigeria,” Goodluck Jonathan told journalists at a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Abuja.
Amnesty International says it was told by several people that the military in Maiduguri, capital of the north-eastern Borno state, was informed of the impending attack on Chibok town soon after 19:00 local time.
It says that a local official was contacted by herdsmen who said that armed men had asked them where the Government Girls’ Secondary School was located in the town.
Despite the warning, reinforcements were not sent to help protect the town in the remote area, which was attacked at around midnight, Amnesty International says.
One reason, the rights group says, was a “reported fear of engaging with the often better-equipped armed groups”.
Amnesty’s Africa Director Netsanet Belay said it amounted to a “gross dereliction of Nigeria’s duty to protect civilians”.
Boko Haram has admitted capturing the girls, saying they should not have been in school and should get married instead.
In a video released earlier this week, leader Abubakar Shekau threatened to “sell” the students.
Teams of experts from the US and UK – including military advisers, negotiators and counselors – have arrived in Nigeria to help locate and rescue the abductees.
Seven American military officials arrived on Friday, with more expected to come on Saturday, including three FBI personnel.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language, began its insurgency in Borno state in 2009.
Thousands of mourners are attending the funeral of renowned author Chinua Achebe in his Nigerian home town of Ogidi in Anambra state.
Chinua Achebe’s body arrived back in Nigeria on Wednesday from the US, where he died in March at the age of 82.
Relatives and officials were at Enugu airport in southern Nigeria as the coffin was lowered from the plane.
Chinua Achebe is widely regarded as the founding father of African literature in English.
His 1958 debut novel, Things Fall Apart, which dealt with the impact of colonialism in Africa, has sold more than 10 million copies.
Writer and academic Chinua Achebe went on to write more than 20 works – some fiercely critical of politicians and what he described as a failure of leadership in Nigeria.
He had been living in the US since 1990 after a car crash left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair, returning to Nigeria infrequently.
Thousands of mourners are attending the funeral of renowned author Chinua Achebe in his Nigerian home town of Ogidi in Anambra state
Chinua Achebe is being given a colorful, grand send off in his home town of Ogidi.
Much of what he abhorred is on full display at the service – political patronage and the trappings of power, he says.
Local politicians were escorted into the church by men from the State Security Service wielding sophisticated weapons while a large number of men and women came dressed head to toe in political party outfits.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan and Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama flew in by helicopter to attend the service at the packed Anglican church in Ogidi.
Thousands of mourners are following proceedings from huge marquees erected outside.
Although people are mourning, the life of the influential Nigerian writer is also being celebrated, our reporter says.
“I left my house in Asaba [a nearby city] at 05:00 this morning in order to pay my last respects for this illustrious son of Nigeria who has done his people proud,” said Sylvanus John, a 31-year-old engineer, AFP news agency reports.
Chinua Achebe’s body will be buried near his family’s home in Ogidi, a small town in the hills of Anambra state, later on Thursday.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in three states after a spate of deadly attacks by Islamist militant groups.
In a televised address, the president said he had given the military powers to take over security in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
Goodluck Jonathan also ordered more troops to be sent to the north-eastern states.
Islamist group Boko Haram has been blamed for most of the violence, killing some 2,000 people since 2010.
Nigeria is also affected by a spate of conflicts over land, religion and oil.
In the latest violence, 53 people were killed and 13 villages burnt in central Nigeria’s Benue state on Tuesday.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in three states after a spate of deadly attacks by Islamist militant groups
The conflict, which started last week, is said to have been caused by a long-running dispute over land ownership between cattle herders and farmers.
In a pre-recorded address broadcast on Tuesday, President Goodluck Jonathan said: “What we are facing is not just militancy or criminality, but a rebellion and insurgency by terrorist groups which pose a very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity.”
Referring to recent attacks by “insurgents and terrorists” on government buildings and killings of officials and other civilians, the president said that “these actions amount to a declaration of war”.
“We will hunt them down, we will fish them out, and we will bring them to justice,” he said.
At the same time, Goodluck Jonathan stressed that – despite the state of emergency – politicians in the three states would remain in their posts.
Goodluck Jonathan also admitted that the government was not in control of the whole country.
This is not the first time President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency, but this is a clear admission that far from being weakened by the army offensive, the threat of the Islamist militants is growing.
Last week, Goodluck Jonathan had to cut short a trip to South Africa to deal with the growing violence.
About 150 people have been killed during the co-ordinated attacks by Islamist militants in the northern Nigerian city of Kano on Friday, witnesses and reports say.
Hospitals are struggling to deal with the numbers of killed and injured.
A series of explosions ripped apart police buildings, passport offices and immigration centres on the city, which is now under a 24-hour curfew.
Boko Haram militants said they carried out the attacks, which would be their bloodiest assault to date.
The group has said it wants to overthrow the national government and install an Islamic state.
Its members have frequently attacked police stations and other symbols of state power, but the group has also bombed churches and killed hundreds of people – including many Muslim and Christian civilians.
President Goodluck Jonathan promised that the perpetrators would “face the full wrath of the law”.
“As a responsible government, we will not fold our hands and watch enemies of democracy, for that is what these mindless killers are, perpetrate unprecedented evil in our land,” Goodluck Jonathan said.
About 150 people have been killed during the co-ordinated attacks by Islamist militants in the northern Nigerian city of Kano on Friday, witnesses and reports say
On Saturday in Kano, a city of nine million people, most of them Muslims, Red Cross teams have been collecting bodies from the streets and taking them to mortuaries.
A medical official told the AP news agency that 143 people had been killed, and another official told AFP that 162 bodies had been counted.
Boko Haram, which loosely translates from the local Hausa language as “Western education is forbidden”, has been behind a string of attacks in recent years.
The group wants Islamic law across Nigeria, whose population is split between the largely Muslim north, and the south where Christianity and traditional beliefs predominate.
It first hit the headlines in 2009 when a spate of attacks by its followers on police and government buildings in the city of Maiduguri led to a crackdown in which hundreds died.
More recently, the group has launched bomb attacks on churches, drive-by shootings on government targets and other attacks across northern Nigeria, killing scores and forcing many more to flee.
But the Kano attacks appear to be the group’s most deadly co-ordinated assault.
The police said in a statement that four police stations around the city, the headquarters of the State Security Service (SSS), as well as passport and immigration offices had been targeted.
There was also a shoot-out at the headquarters of the state police in the city’s eastern district of Bompai, reports said.
A local man, Andrew Samuel, described the scene of one blast: “I was on the roadside and I just heard a ‘boom’. As I came back, I saw the building of the police headquarters crashing down and I ran for my life.”
Witnesses said the bomber who attacked one of the police stations pulled up outside the building on a motorbike, dismounted and ran inside holding a bag.
Some unconfirmed reports have claimed suicide bombers carried out some of the attacks.
Nigeria’s Channels TV said in a statement that one of its reporters, Enenche Akogwu, had been killed in the attacks.
It said he had been “shot by unknown gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect”, outside the state government house.
The wounded were reported to include foreigners from an area near the SSS headquarters, which is home to many expatriates, particularly Lebanese and Indians.
A Boko Haram spokesman, Abul Qaqa, told journalists that it had carried out the attacks because the authorities had refused to release group members arrested in Kano.
President Goodluck Jonathan has announced an immediate drop in the price of fuel, following a week of strikes and protests in Nigeria.
Goodluck Jonathan said the price would drop by around 30% in recognition of the “hardships being suffered” by people.
Nigeria has been paralyzed 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) to 140 naira.
The unions have yet to respond to Goodluck Jonathan’s announcement.
Earlier, they called off street protests due to security concerns, but warned that a week-long general strike would continue.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan said the price would drop by around 30 per cent in recognition of the "hardships being suffered" by people
President Jonathan has admitted there has been a near breakdown in law and order in parts of the country as a result of the strike.
Army checkpoints have been seen in parts of the commercial capital Lagos for the first time since the protests began.
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,” Goodluck 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.”
Goodluck Jonathan’s speech comes after a weekend of talks with the unions failed to prevent the strike from continuing into a second week.
Abdulwaheed Omar, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress union, said he would urge his members to “stay off the streets… because of the security situation” but stressed the nationwide strike would continue.
Protests over five days last week led to the deaths of several people. Some 600 people were wounded, according to the International Red Cross.
The removal of fuel subsidies on 1 January was a devastating blow to the large number of Nigerians who live in absolute poverty.
The authorities say the subsidy was costing the equivalent of more than $8 billion 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.