Nigerian workers were divided in their response to their union’s directive that they should commence an indefinite strike today, to protest a hike in the price of petrol last Wednesday.
The official price for a litre of petrol was increased from N86/86.50 to N143/N145 across Nigeria. Even then, the pump price in most Nigerian cities has ranged from N150 to N190.
The strike was barely noticeable in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Lagos and most state capitals. Delta and Edo states were virtually shut down as workers organised protest marches.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has at least two factions: one led by Ayuba Wabba, the other by Joe Ajaero. The latter together with the Trade Union Congress opted to negotiate further with the federal government.
Protesters gathered early in strategic parts of Lagos State but they were dispersed and the roads cleared by security men. The NLC, in the early hours, mobilised their members in a peaceful procession. They took over major roads, blocking traffic in the process. This prompted the police to step in and clear the roads.
Commercial activities were not disrupted in Abuja or Lagos. All banks remained open.
The federal government threatened workers with “no work, no pay”. An announcement was expected at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting this Wednesday. The FEC was headed by President Muhammadu Buhari.