For now it seems like neither parties are giving way, so it appears that the strike will go on for some time. The government conceded a N5 decrease in the price of petrol, while the labour unions want the price reverted to the original N65. The increase in VAT from 5% to 10% has been suspended by the government, while the unions want it cancelled permanently.
While many people have not been going to work since Wednesday, some others (who have fuel in their cars or can afford the exhorbitant transport costs) have been. In my office, a handful made it in on Wednesday and even less yesterday. Eventually I had to check in with my manager to see if there was any point people coming in for the rest of the strike. He said with all the difficulties in getting to work, not to bother until the strike was called off.
So today I enjoyed my first full day from my 'strike holiday.' I got up early to go for a walk. I've always envied those people I see walking or running around the estate as I made my way to work in the mornings. Now, I had the opportunity to join them. I met a friend from NYSC as I turned into the street adjacent to mine and together we walked almost to the gate.
I realised that this was a God-sent opportunity to read all those books on my shelves that I have been dying to get started on. I started with Further Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes (I will start with the light stuff and move on to heavier stuff). I dozed off at some point and when I did wake up, I tried to watch TV. So many channels and still there's nothing to watch!
In the afternoon, my brother and I went out to get a few things. We ended up at The Palms shopping mall. From the car park and the activity inside the place, you'd be hard-pressed to believe that there was any kind of strike going on. The mall was filled with people shopping, browsing, watching movies and hanging out. It felt like just another public holiday. My brother gnashed his teeth and muttered incredulously "So this is how we strike?" Well, I guess if people can't go to work, they must do something else ..... The shops must be raking it in.
Back outside, the streets were near empty save for a couple of petrol stations which had queues of cars parked outside in anticipation of whenever they would start selling, which didn't look like anytime soon.
Meanwhile, the black marketers are having a field day. From what should be the new price of petrol of N70 for a litre, the going price is roughly N300 per litre. To describe the situation as scandalous and shameless robbery doesn't even begin to do justice, but as with all things here, people will put all concerns aside and buy if being mobile is a priority to them and if they can afford it.
As the strike goes on, the word is that essential services e.g. electricity and water providers will also go on strike. With our dear PHCN, let's face it, I don't think most people would know the difference between them being on strike and them 'working.' In the last week, we've had public power supply in my house for a grand total of about 20 minutes each day. So please!!!!!! To quote Beyonce, To the left, to the left! The water corporation going on strike is another thing entirely. Having no water for baths, to wash dishes, or clothes, to flush your toilets is not fun. That is a situation that I pray does not happen.
All Africa: Strike - FG, Labour Meeting Deadlocked
BBC News: Nigeria Srike Talks in Deadlock
Guardian: Strike Continues: Labour May Shut Essential Services