World

Government workers strike over Nigeria’s soaring inflation and economic woes

Inflation approached almost 30% last month – the highest in the country for three decades.

Union members march to protest over economic hardship in Lagos, Nigeria (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Union members protesting in Lagos Union members march to protest over economic hardship in Lagos, Nigeria (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba) (Sunday Alamba/AP)

Nigeria’s government employees and other union workers began a new nationwide strike on Tuesday that threatened to shut down key services while people are angry about soaring inflation and growing economic pain.

Since assuming office in Africa’s most populous country last year, President Bola Tinubu has enacted policies that include doing away with fuel subsidies and unifying the country’s multiple exchange rates, leading to a devaluation of the naira against the dollar.

Petrol prices have more than doubled and inflation has shot up as a result, reaching close to 30% last month, the highest in nearly three decades, according to the national bureau of statistics.

“We are hungry. There is nobody that doesn’t know this,” said Joe Ajaero, president of the Nigerian labour congress.

Striking workers on the march in Lagos, Nigeria (AP PhotoSunday Alamba)
Nigeria Labor Protest Striking workers on the march in Lagos, Nigeria (AP PhotoSunday Alamba) (Sunday Alamba/AP)

Others said the protest was the only way to get the government’s attention.

“Things are getting out of hand,” said Christian Omeje, a shop owner in the capital, Abuja.

“Prices keep soaring, the aid the government said it would dole out has not been provided.”

This is just the latest strike action.

In October, government labour unions reached a deal with the government to end strikes in return for monthly stipends and subsidies to cushion the blow of the new policies. Still, the unrest continued.

Unions say the government has failed to deliver on promises that included a monthly wage increase of approximately 20 Us dollars (£15.77) for all workers for six months and payments of approximately 15 dollars (£11.82) for three months to millions of vulnerable households.

A pledge to roll out gas-powered buses for mass transit last year also failed to materialise.

Most services appeared to continue on Tuesday with a reduced workforce.