Banks, businesses, and offices in various parts of the country remained closed on Wednesday due to a protest organized by labor unions. The protest was in response to the Federal Government’s failure to provide palliatives to alleviate the impact of fuel subsidy removal. Economic and commercial activities were halted in parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Abakaliki, and other urban areas, causing travel disruptions and inconveniences.
Organized labor demanded a minimum wage of N200,000 for workers and other palliatives for Nigerians as a condition for ending the protests. The protest was led by Nigerian Labour Congress President Joe Ajaero and Trade Union Congress counterpart Festus Osifo. The labor leaders engaged with National Assembly leaders during the rally, expressing grievances over the worsening socio-economic conditions caused by the fuel subsidy removal.
The protesters marched from the Unity Fountain in Abuja to various locations, including the Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly gate. A confrontation occurred between the protesters and security personnel at the National Assembly gate. The protesters sought access to lawmakers involved in screening ministerial nominees.
The labor leaders voiced demands for the reversal of the Premium Motor Spirit price increase, school fees, and Value Added Tax. They also called for the immediate repair of modular refineries and emphasized the need for domestic fuel production. They criticized the reliance on fuel imports and highlighted the potential benefits of refining domestically.
Despite a plea from National Assembly leaders, the labor unions decided to convene an emergency National Executive Council meeting to discuss the possibility of suspending the protests. The protest caused significant disruptions to economic activities, with banks, offices, and various businesses remaining closed.
The protests prompted a meeting between the labor leaders and President Bola Tinubu at the Aso Villa. The Presidency later announced that labor leaders agreed to end the protests following their meeting with Tinubu. The labor unions emphasized that the decision to suspend the protests would be determined by their respective executive councils’ deliberations.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed concern about the potential impact of the protests on the organized private sector and the overall economy. The Chamber acknowledged the citizens’ right to peaceful protests but noted the challenges posed by ongoing disruptions amid the country’s economic realities.