, LAGOS, Nov 10 – A call by unions for a three-day countrywide strike over pay was partially followed in Nigeria on Wednesday despite President Goodluck Jonathan\’s last minute attempts to stop it.
State and federal government workers appeared to have heeded the work stoppage call, grinding the public commuter bus service in Nigeria\’s largest busiest city, Lagos to a halt.
Privately-run mini buses and motorcycles normally used as taxi services in Nigeria, however, operated as normal, plying their routes in Lagos where gas stations and schools also opened.
Federal government offices were deserted in the administrative capital Abuja while commercial banks kept their shutters down.
Jonathan on Tuesday cut short a business visit to Nigeria\’s commercial hub of Lagos to fly back to Abuja for emergency late night talks with the country\’s umbrella union leaders.
But labour emerged from the talks saying the strike would proceed as planned.
"The only thing we can say … is that the strike is on until it is called off by the organ," said Promise Adewusi, acting president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The unions plan to meet later Wednesday.
The unions had initially demanded an almost 700 percent pay rise on the national minimum wage, which has stood at 7,500 naira (50 dollars) for the past decade despite a rising double digit rate of inflation.
After months of negotiations, they settled for a 240 percent pay hike to 18,000 naira (120 dollars), but some three months on government is yet to accept the recommended figure.
A nationwide strike could shut down Nigeria, a regional economic powerhouse and the world\’s eighth largest oil exporter.