Nigerian Unions Threaten Strike Over Hikes in Energy Prices

By Bashir Olanrewaju

The Nigerian Labour Congress,  the country’s biggest trade-union federation, said it will begin an indefinite strike on February 28 if the government doesn’t reverse recent increases in the price of fuel and electricity.

The labour leadership resolved “that an indefinite strike action and peaceful protest” will follow if President Muhammadu Buhari‚Äôs government fails to act as requested, the NLC said in a communique posted on Thursday on its website.

The unions accused Buhari of failing in his promise to fix long-broken refineries and ensure they produce 70 percent of domestic fuel needs. The government also failed to build new refineries and in initiating reforms for smaller, modular refineries that would assured domestic supply in place of imports.

NNPC headquarters, Abuja.

“Subjecting the price of refined petroleum products to the twin factors of volatility in the global oil market and instability in our exchange rate only means that there is no end in sight to the skyrocketing,” the federation said in the communique.  “This means that Nigerians in the nearest future would be forced to pay up to five hundred naira for a liter of petrol. This is clearly unacceptable.” 

On the increased costs of electricity,  the NLC said the government was now passing the costs of a failed privatization of the power sector to “innocent Nigerians.” The increased electricity tariffs appear to specifically target manufacturers and businessses already squeezed by high operating costs.
“Ultimately, the dislocations consequent on the increase in the cost of living have eroded the gains of the recent increase in the national minimum wage,” the NLC said in the communique jointly signed by Ayuba Wabba, president,  and Emmanuel Ugboajah, secretary general.

Click here for full text of the NLC communique.