Africa’s most populated country has not had a good start to 2012. Thousands of Nigerians took to the streets of its two largest cities, Lagos and Abuja, to protest against President Goodluck Jonathan’s Jan. 1 decision to cancel fuel subsidies, which virtually doubled the price of gas across the country. The jump—45 cents to almost $1 per litre—has outraged Nigerians, most living on less than $2 a day. Ironically, Nigeria is Africa’s most oil-rich nation, but foreign companies such as BP and Shell own and operate the high-functioning refineries that produce two billion barrels each day—a process that resulted in two major oil spills in the past month.
The demonstrations come just as the president confirmed that the local Islamic extremist group Boko Haram has infiltrated parliamentary and legislative arms of the government. The group has already been held responsible for four Christmas Day bombings, and is fighting to impose a strict interpretation of sharia law throughout the country.