Mixed Reactions Greet Fuel Strike


Mixed reactions greeted the call by labour on Nigerians to begin an indefinite strike on Monday against the withdrawal of fuel subsidy.

While some sections of the country heeded the call, normal businesses were ongoing in other parts of the country.

Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report that in Abuja, schools, offices, banks and popular shopping centres were shut while security operatives patrolled the streets.

Most petrol filling stations were also shut, but some commercial drivers and commuters in the FCT were seen going about their normal businesses.

Traffic in the capital city was sparse with the usual crowd at major bus stops absent.

A trip that would normally take about one-and-a-half hours from Lugbe, a suburb of the FCT, to the city centre, took only 19 minutes on Monday.

A resident, Juwon Olupeka, who works with the Federal Airports Authority, told NAN that he was taking his time to study the situation before taking a decision whether to go to work or not.

NAN also reports that most markets were closed while schools in the city also postponed their resumption date to January 16.

In Lagos, thousands of Nigerians joined the protest with a procession from the NLC secretariat in Yaba moving through Ikorodu Road.

Labour leaders and rights activists led the procession of protesters.

The police were on ground to monitor the protests and to ensure law and order.

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In Calabar, NAN correspondents reported that transporters, especially in Calabar South, did not comply with the directive to stay at home, but charged N100 per commuter, no matter the distance travelled.

NAN reports that markets were opened while business activities were going on as usual.

Bank workers reported for work, but shut the gates. At the Calabar Road branch of GTB bank, however, the workers were seen preparing to attend to customers.

In Port Harcourt, the federal and state secretariats were closed; banks did not open and major markets were shut, but people were moving about freely while security was tight.

In Asaba, the strike recorded partial compliance as only public offices were shut.

NAN reports that the main market in the capital city, Ogbeogonogo, was opened with traders in their shops just as commercial vehicles and motorcycles operated normal business.

Also open were commercial banks whose staff members were in their respective banking halls, apparently waiting for customers.

The Asaba branch of the CBN also opened, but had its gates guarded by heavily armed mobile policemen.

Entrances into all public offices, including the federal secretariat and the House of Assembly, were locked. Armed policemen were, however, stationed in strategic locations in the city, including the entrance of the Assembly complex.

The procession of protesters in Asaba was escorted and monitored by more than 30 armed policemen and plain-clothe security operatives.

Acting Secretary of NLC in the state, Mr. Fidel Emeni, threatened that organised private sector offices, especially banks, found open would be shut by labour and the workers dealt with.

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