The nationwide strike in Nigeria against a petrol price hike ended under rather curious circumstances on January 16. The strike called by trade unions had crippled the economy, save for the fact that the oil pipelines continued to deliver their load. Labour leaders and civil society coalitions entered into dialogue with a government that favours monologues. It was not surprising that the game was over before the labour leaders knew it.
A union representing 20,000 oil and gas workers in Nigeria announced on January 12 that it would shut down all production from January 15 unless the government restored a petrol subsidy it scrapped on January 1. The Pengassan union said if the government refused, it would be “forced to go ahead and apply the bitter option of ordering the systematic shutting down of oil and gas production”. Pengassan president Babatunde Ogun had told members to “be on red alert in preparation for total production shutdown”.
Multinational oil companies in Nigeria spill more oil every year than has been spilled by BP in the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike the gulf disaster, most people are unaware of this ecological crime. There have been major spills in Nigeria since BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, but they have received hardly any attention from the international media. A May 12 explosion at a Shell installation turned 39 hectares of the Niger Delta into an oil slick, BBC News said on June 15. Two weeks earlier, an Exxon Mobil oil pipeline ruptured. It spewed a million litres a day for a week.
Nigeria’s combative working-class movement has shown its strength and militancy. An overwhelmingly observed four-day nationwide general strike, which began on June 20, succeeded in rapidly forcing the country’s new president to back down on an announced doubling of value-added tax and increased fuel prices. The degree of popular support for the strike revealed that the 23-day-old regime of President Umaru Yar’Adua is already thoroughly discredited and despised.
According to the International Trade Union Confederation, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria have called a national stay-away on May 29, the date of Nigeria’s presidential inauguration. The groups’ trade union centres are part of the Labour and Civil Society Coalition. President-elect Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is accused of rigging the April 21 election. According to ITUC-Online, “Fraud and ballot rigging were widespread during the elections, resulting in a major setback for democracy in Africa’s most populous nation, and leading to protests inside the country and heavy criticism from independent election observers”.

While the west is lauding the Nigerian military dictatorship's "transition to democracy", the regime has launched a campaign of murder and rape to crush an uprising by the peoples of the Niger River delta in the south.