• En
  • Directory of Taiwan

Nigeria Labor Congress continues strikes against today rising fuel prices

Nigeria Labor Congress continues strikes against today rising fuel prices
Nigeria Labor Congress continues strikes against today rising fuel prices
Nigeria Labor Congress continues strikes against today rising fuel prices

The spokesman for the Nigeria Labor Congress says a general strike against rising fuel prices scheduled to begin today (Monday), will proceed. The move comes despite an industrial court order restraining the country’s labor unions from striking.

Owei Lakemfa says Nigerians have lost faith in the government after talks between the administration and main workers’ unions failed.

“There are going to be general protests and street rallies, and it will be indefinite,” said Lakemfa. “We are protesting the government decision to increase to the price of petrol by between 120 and 220 percent, which is unprecedented. It has already led to a lot of hardships. Food prices have increased and there is hyper-inflation, and these are the things we told the government will happen from the beginning.”

Nigerian lawmakers on Sunday turned against the president’s decision to end government fuel subsidies that kept gasoline prices low, just ahead of a planned labor strike that could paralyze Africa’s most populous nation.

Meeting in an emergency session, Nigeria’s House of Representatives shouted down supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan as they voted for a resolution calling on him to restore subsidies that cost the country about $8 billion a year. But their moves failed to mollify unions organizing the strike set to start Monday.

Gas prices have risen from $1.70 per gallon (45 cents per liter) to at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents per liter) since the subsidy ended Jan. 1 at Jonathan’s order. That spurred a spike in prices for food and transportation across a nation of more than 160 million people, most of whom live on less than $2 a day.

In response, two major unions have said they will carry out a strike Monday, despite a court order restraining them from it. That sets up a situation similar to one faced by the OPEC member nation in 2003, when strikers over eight days attacked shops that remained open, took over air traffic control towers and cut into oil production in a country vital to U.S. energy supplies.

Already, activists have begun a loose-knit group of protests called “Occupy Nigeria,” inspired by those near Wall Street in New York. Their anger extends beyond just the fuel subsidy to the government’s weak response to ongoing violence in Nigeria by a radical Muslim sect that killed at least 510 people last year, according to an Associated Press count. Protesters also remain angered by decades of corruption that has seen billions of oil dollars stolen by politicians as electricity and clean drinking water remain scarce.

During Sunday’s session, televised live from the capital Abuja across the country, even members of Jonathan’s ruling People’s Democratic Party spoke out against him. Others said the fuel subsidy removal was undertaken without their knowledge, signaling Jonathan’s administration moved unilaterally on an issue now dividing the country.

Some lawmakers also said the fuel subsidy removal could lead to a revolution like those that swept across some Arab countries last year.

“We are sitting near a keg of gunpowder and we are playing with fire,” said Rep. Pally Isumafe Obokhuaime Iriase of the Action Congress of Nigeria. “This will be the last straw that will break the camel’s back if we do not act.”

Traffic snarled around gas stations in the country as motorists and generator users tried to buy gasoline before the strike. Some stations ran dry and closed early, while people waiting to buy fuel argued with attendants about filling extra gas cans.