Cablegate: Nigeria: Nlc Meets to Plan Mass Action in Response

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12598: N/A

1. The battle lines now appeared to be drawn between
government and labor over possible fuel price increases.
Long queues at gas stations throughout the country reflect
speculation that the GON might announce further increases in
fuel prices as early as October 1.

2. The Central Working Committee of the Nigeria Labor
Congress (NLC) held an emergency meeting in Lagos on
September 29 to discuss a response to a possible price hike.
The NLC believes Obasanjo will announce GON plans to
deregulate the petroleum industry's downstream sector and
encourage oil marketers to charge whatever price they want
for petroleum products.

3. Following its meeting, the NLC vowed publicly to resist
any further increase in gas prices and warned it will not
hesitate to recommence its suspended strike action of last
June to protest an earlier price hike. The NLC's National
Executive Council plans meet on October 6 in Lagos to
continue mapping out its plans for a nationwide strike.
Already, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Lagos-based
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR) have warned
that they are prepared to support protestors who participate
in the planned strike.

4. Comment: An announcement by Obasanjo of an increase in
gas prices anytime in the next two weeks will be ill timed
given that Nigeria is hosting the 8th All Africa Games in
Abuja. Last June's fuel price hike, and the nationwide
industrial action that followed, occurred one week before
the visit of President Bush to Nigeria. Many believe that
the GON was forced to lower prices to avoid the perception
of instability during the presidential visit. Mass action
during the All Africa Games would present a similar threat.
End comment.


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