THE GENERAL strike in Nigeria over the removal of gasoline subsidies, now in its third day, has shut down most shops and businesses, cut oil production and cocoa exports and is gaining in strength.
Gasoline prices more than doubled after President Jonathan abolished 1.2 trillion naira ($7.4 billion) of subsidies on January 1st.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which has the biggest operations in Nigeria, said its offices in Lagos and Port Harcourt were closed.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria’s Babatunte Oke said that oil production was being shut down gradually and would be shut by the weekend, unless the government acted.
The strike has forced Nigeria, the world’s fourth-biggest cocoa producer, to stop moving beans from farms for processing and gradings, said Robo Adhuze, spokesman for the Cocoa Association of Nigeria.
At least two people were killed by police during protests on Monday, while the government imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the northern city of Kano.
Nigerian army troops guarded oil company offices and facilities in Port Harcourt, while military helicopters and boats patrolled the creeks in the Niger River delta.
The House of Representatives has now called on Nigerian President Jonathan to reverse the decision and the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, which called the strike, said they’re ready to discuss subsidies if he does.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Cross River have threatened to sanction members who fail to join the ongoing strike to protest at the fuel subsidy removal.
The organisations found that in Calabar on Monday that compliance by market union, taxi drivers and owners of petrol stations was low.
The Chairman of the State NLC, Nyambi Njom, told the Nigerian News Agency, ‘They should take whatever happens in good faith if they don’t join.
‘I want to tell the chairman of the market union to go and tell his people to close down all the markets and take their commodities away.’
Ndabo Okon Kuthman, Chairman, National Union of Shops Cross River Chapter, said the market unions would join the strike today.
The Commissioner of Police, Samson Wudah, said that 7,000 personnel were deployed to monitor the rally in Cross River and commended labour leaders for their maturity in the conduct of the peaceful protests.
The state Chairman of TUC, Louis Usang, commended members of the union for coming out in large numbers for the demonstration on Monday, with a second planned for Tuesday.
‘I have been directed to advise you that we should come out 7.00am each day until the strike is called off. We will be meeting at the secretariat and be taking a similar procession.’