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Nigerian Government Backs Down in Face of United Labor Strike

Media reports attest to the fact that Nigeria’s working public responded with great approval to the nationwide strike which began on Nov 14. By noon on Nov. 15, the government was “begging” (in words of the media) labor to terminate the strike. In addition to social grievances (fuel price hike from President Tinubu’s removal of subsidies), unions were brought to the point of action after the arrest and subsequent abuse of Nigerian Labor Congress Chairman Joe Ajaero, after a Nov. 1 labor rally.

Reports indicate that there was near 100% compliance in several states (with virtually all economic activity affected), and that customs agents were declaring losses of 10-20 billion naira ($12-$25 million) at the nation’s ports, because of the dockworkers’ union shutdown. Everything from hospitals to filling stations were affected.

The Nigerian Labor Congress and the Trade Union Congress agreed to “temporarily” suspend the strike however, only after an elder statesman of the administration, National Security Advisor Nuhu Ribadu personally gave his word that the police-state abuse of Ajaero would be addressed. TUC National Deputy President Tommy Etim told media: “We [called off the strike] based on our trust in the National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu who gave us his word ... that he wasn’t playing politics with our demands and he was ready and promised to follow up with everything.”

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