Thursday, December 31, 1998 Published at 20:26 GMT
Hard time ahead for Nigerian economy
Government hopes economy will not upset stability before elections in January and February
Nigeria's military government has warned of a declining economy and a continuing fall in living standards as the country prepares for a return to civilian rule next May.
He said the unrest in the Niger Delta - the source of most of Nigeria's oil - had exacerbated the situation, and hinted at a tougher policy towards controlling the unrest, saying that his government would "restore normalcy and security in the area".
"While respecting human rights, we will not allow people to take order into their hands," General Abubakar said.
The BBC Correspondent in Lagos, Barnaby Phillips, says this has meant that some very tough economic decisions have had to be made. Already the government has indicated it will have to climb down from an increase in civil servant's wages that was announced in September, and it has de-regulated the fuel market causing petrol prices to double.
The fall in oil prices also means the government will be unable to pay the minimum wage it announced recently, and may have to impose a lower rate.
Our correspondent says General Abubakar's government has won plaudits around the world for the manner in which it has transformed the political situation in Nigeria.
The government's concern is that the problems surrounding oil production and oil prices should not threaten Nigeria's stability, with state elections due in January and parliamentary and presidential elections in February.
Local protestors had given the oil companies until 30 December to withdraw from the Ijaw area until the issue of "ownership and control of resources" are settled. The oil companies have so far responded by asking the government for improved security.