Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), one of Nigeria’s main oil and gas unions will join a nationwide strike starting on Oct. 3 to protest against government policies that are causing economic hardship for Nigerians, union leaders said. Meanwhile, the National Economic Council (NEC) is holding a crucial meeting, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. The meeting, being presided over by Vice President, Kashim Shettima, is holding ahead of the planned nationwide strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). Sources said the nationwide strike and issues surrounding the palliatives are top on the agenda of the meeting. The meeting is being attended by the 36 state governors, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu as well as the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer and relies on the commodity for around 90% of foreign exchange earnings and about half its budget. The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) directed its members to ensure “unwavering compliance” with the indefinite strike called by Nigeria’s two biggest workers union federations.
NUPENG represents a myriad of workers across the entire value chain in the oil and gas sectors, including upstream oil platform workers, fuel tanker drivers and pump attendants, and its decision to join the strike is a significant escalation of the unions’ dispute with the government. NUPENG President Williams Akporeha said the government’s policies have caused “excruciating and debilitating socio-economic pains” for Nigerians without any accompanying measures to cushion “the immediate effects and impacts.”
President Bola Tinubu has been under pressure to reverse his decision to scrap a popular petrol subsidy that had kept fuel prices low but was costly on government finances. While his policies have cheered investors, unions say they have led to soaring costs for Nigerians – an estimated four in 10 of whom live below the national poverty line- as they grapple with the highest inflation in nearly two decades.