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Cablegate: Nigeria Nationwide Strike Sitrep #1 - October 11

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 002071

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W
STATE FOR EB
STATE FOR DRL
STATE PASS DOE FOR DAS JBRODMAN
STATE PASS TRANSPORTATION MARAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV NI PHUM EPET
SUBJECT: NIGERIA NATIONWIDE STRIKE SITREP #1 - OCTOBER 11

REF: LAGOS 2068

1. SUMMARY. Two days before a planned nation-wide
stay-at-home strike, the State Security Service (SSS)
detained and then released National Labor Congress (NLC)
President Adams Oshiomhole in Abuja. According to the press,
Oshiomole alleged he was "manhandled" during his brief
detention. The strike commenced October 11 as planned and is
thus far being observed widely. Most schools and businesses
are closed. Oil companies are running limited operations,
but say production has not been affected. President
Obasanjo has reportedly formed a 32-member committee,
including labor, to examine the fuel price issue, which led
to the strike. Relatively low-level sporadic violence and
harassment have been reported. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- -
NLC President Oshiomhole Detained and Released
--------------------------------------------- -

2. The State Security Service (SSS) arrested NLC President
Adams Oshiomhole at the Abuja airport on Saturday. According
to the press, Oshiomhole alleges he was "manhandled" by the
security services before being released. Press accounts of
the extent of Oshiomhole's injuries varied widely, ranging
from a spike in blood pressure to a dislocated leg. Numerous
political and civil society figures condemned Oshiomhole's
arrest.

--------------------------------
Nationwide Strike Commences,
Widespread and Mostly Peacefully
--------------------------------

3. The nationwide stay-at-home strike commenced as planned,
October 11. There is widespread observance of the strike
throughout southern Nigeria. Most schools and businesses are
closed. Very little commercial transportation is available.
While some senior executives are able to report to work, the
vast majority of workers, who depend on public transportation
could not go to work, even if they so desired. Most
businesses are expected to re-open after 4:00 p.m.

4. The first phase of the strike is planned to last until
Octber 14. The strike will be suspended for two weeks to
provide government time to roll back the price increase as
well as to give the populace a respite. If the price
increase is not retracted after two weeks, the strike will
resume indefinitely. Labor leaders also reserved the right
to extend the initial four-day strike should there be clashes
between security forces and labor activists resulting in
casualties.

-------------------------------
Some Key Sectors Uninterrupted
-------------------------------

5. Although some oil companies are operating with skeletal
staffs, executives tell us that oil production has not been
affected. International airlines at Murtala Muhammed
International Airport (MMIA) also continue to operate
normally. Most domestic airlines appear to have operated out
of MMIA today, though there were unconfirmed reports of
aviation fuel rationing. The Warri airport was reported
closed.

---------------------------------
GON - Labor Talks in the Offing ?
---------------------------------
6. Television news reported that President Obasanjo has
formed a 32-member committee to examine the fuel price issue.
The committee consists of representatives of labor,
government, and civil society, as well as the oil and gas and
manufacturing industries.

7. Post also received reports that Obasanjo has scheduled a
staekholders meeting. According to these as of yet
unconfirmed reports, Oshiomhole will lead the labor team, and
Obasanjo will head the government's delegation.

(Comment: Currently, we do not knw if the 32-person committee
and the stakeholder meeting are one and the same. End
Comment.)

--------------------------------------------- ----
Strike Reports from the Field in Southern Nigeria
--------------------------------------------- ----

Lagos
-----
8. Most of Lagos is peaceful, with incidents of violence in a
few areas. A heavy police presence was reported around the
city. Schools are closed and few private or commercial
vehicles are operating. Most gas stations are closed.

9. National Electric Power Authority employees reported to
work. The Lagos office of the Central Bank of Nigeria is
open. Commercial banks are opened with a skeletal staff; few
customers are demanding service. The Nigerian stock exchange
is open.
10. NLC teams are on the streets to assess the extent of
compliance with the strike. "Area boys" flying NLC flags are
reported to have hijacked commercial buses in some areas and
used them to harass motorists found on the road. No incidents
have been reported on Victoria and Ikoyi Islands; movement on
the islands is not expected to be a problem.

Port Harcourt
-------------
11. The strike appears to be progressing peacefully in the
city. Police made public announcements in the morning
warning people not to gather or rally. There is little
vehicular traffic. The oil unions, NUPENG and PENGASSAN,
said their members are observing the strike, except for
essential workers. Oil companies are operating with skeletal
staffs. Production has not been affected thus far.

Warri
-----
12. Few motorists are on the roads. The airport is closed.
NUPENG and PENGASSAN members are observing the strike, except
for essential workers. Banks are not servicing customers.
Public schools are closed. Private schools are open with
minimal staffing. The Delta Broadcasting Service is not
operating.

Escravos
---------
13. Oil facilities at Escravos are operating normally.

Bayelsa
--------
14. Schools are closed. Most shops and offices are closed to
customers. Banks are not attending customers. Some private
hospitals are closed. Police presence is heavy in strategic
locations, around the capital Yenogoa.

Calabar
-------
15. The city is quiet. Most businesses are closed.

Ibadan
------
16. The city is peaceful. Many informal sector businesses
(produce stands, etc.) are operating. Schools are closed.

Onitsha
-------
17. People are moving freely. Business is as usual.

Enugu
-----
18. Few vehicles are on the road. Some markets and businesses
are open. Commuters are moving undisturbed. The State Civil
Secretariat is closed. Civil servants have gone home. School

SIPDIS
children who went to school in the morning returned home
because teachers would not teach.

Benin City
----------
19. University students are making bonfires in front of their
campus, while police officers on patrol are removing fires
from the roads. Businesses are closed, but no reports have
been received of people being molested. Police are deployed
to strategic locations around the city.
BROWNE

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