A week-long general strike from 7th to 13th June took place in Nigeria. It was in protest at the 50% increase in the price of fuel announced by the government of President Obasanjo. The strike was successful in forcing the government to drastically reduce the announced increases.
The strike was most effective in Lagos, Benin City, Ibadan, Akure, Abeokuta, Abuja and Ilorin. The success of the general strike reveals to all the enormous strength and potential of the Nigerian working class.
After the strike we received an eye-witness account of the student protests organised in the town of Ilorin in support of the striking workers.
Eye-witness account of events during the general strike in Nigeria:
"A group of students played a major role in the June 9 protests in Ilorin. They practically initiated the public protest in support of the strike. The students' protest developed into mass protest; the local NLC (Nigerian Labour Congress) and other poor strata of the society joined the movement.
On June 8 we contacted the local students' union on the need to organize some form of action. However, the university students were on holiday, so we had to go to the college of education students who had been waiting for somebody to move them out. On June 9, we went to their campus, which is near the university, and the protest started immediately after addressing them.
Their number grew larger by the time they got out of the campus. This attracted the Ilorin based NANS president who intervened to hold back the movement. He prevented the students from going to the house of the governor of the State, who is one of his financiers. However, this could not hold back the movement.
The students were later joined by the local NLC. They march to the State TV station. In the process of the march, Arthur was arrested by an armed detachment of the police. The police tricked him to stay behind the mass of the protesters and the people he was leading were mainly school students in there hundreds. The police opened fire on them and he was isolated.
Things got bloody when the mass of the students moved on the police to rescue him. The police shot three people. They were seriously injured and are in hospital now.
When the mass of the protesters, led by Martin, got the information that Arthur had been arrested there was massive anger and they moved to free him. They laid a trap for the police detachment. They set up lots of barricades in the ambush. The police were isolated in the middle. When the police detachment realized that they were under attack because of Arthur, they threw him out of their jeep, in order to escape. However, they shot three students in the process.
Arthur said that the policemen panicked and were confused. A conflict broke out among them. Some of them were of the opinion that there was no need for them to have attacked the protest march as it was peaceful.
The policemen that were with Martin and co during the protest march were also against the actions of their colleagues. They openly supported the student's action. After he was thrown out of the jeep, Arthur went back to join the march."