The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trades Union Congress (TUC) and civil society groups yesterday shut down the entire country at the beginning of an indefinite general strike.
There was massive support for the strike, called following the failure of the Federal Government to restore the fuel subsidy and cut the pump price of petrol to 65 naira (£0.26) from the 141 naira it was raised to on New Year’s Day.
The unions defied a National Labour Court order banning the strike, and rejected Sunday’s nationwide appeal by President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the main commercial city, Lagos, protesters waved placards saying ‘Stop killing us with executive lies’ and ‘President Jonathan needs an economic idea. Can anyone help?’
Striking civil servant Fatai Adepoju declared: ‘We are going to fight them to the last drop of blood.’
In Yaba, Lagos, thousands of protesters joined the NLC morning rally.
Vice President of the NLC, Issa Aremu, said: ‘Nigerians have spoken and they are demanding the reversal of the fuel subsidy removal.’
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Lagos branch led a march of at least 500 lawyers from the premises of Lagos High Court to State House, where they delivered a protest letter to Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola for delivery to President Goodluck Jonathan.
In Yenagoa, in the southeastern Niger Delta, a heavy police presence prevented demonstrators from protesting, and in nearby Port Harcourt, hundreds gathered, hemmed in by police patrol vans.
Flights from Port Harcourt International Airport were grounded. Labour leaders led by Chika Onuegbu, Rivers State chairman of the Trade Union Congress, TUC, picketed the airport.
At Agege, Declan Ekhaire led other activities to protest the fuel price hike.
He said: ‘We will resist the hike in the petrol price. We will continue to demonstrate until the government is ready to reverse the petroleum price.’
Policemen from Area ‘G’, Elere and Dopemu police divisions were deployed to the streets.
At Ojota, protesters stormed the Gani Fawehinmi Park. At least 20,000 people took part in the protest with some of them trekking from far distances.
Some of the protesters burnt Jonathan’s photograph, chanting anti-government songs.
Hundreds of youths took to the streets of Akute, a suburb of Ogun State, and barricaded the busy Akute road with bonfires.
Protesters sang solidarity songs and carried placards with slogans including ‘No to bad govt’, ‘No to fuel subsidy,’ ‘Jonathan must go’.
A large turnout of protesters was recorded in Kaduna, Kaduna State. Second Republic governor of the state, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, led the over 500,000 protesters.
In Benin, the Edo State capital, the police shot teargas canisters into the crowd to disperse the protesters.
Kano in Northwest Nigeria was completely grounded. Workers, businessmen, market men and women, artisans and students stayed at home. Virtually all government and private enterprises closed down.
All the streets in the ancient city of Kano were empty.
The nationwide strike was reported ‘total’ in Makurdi, Benue State.