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Nigerian workers strike to force Tinubu to reverse reforms

By Camillus Eboh and Tife Owolabi

ABUJA (Reuters) -Nigerian workers went on strike on Tuesday to demand a reversal of President Bola Tinubu's reforms aimed at reviving growth in Africa's largest economy, which have compounded a cost of living crisis.

The two-day strike called by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), which represents millions of workers in the West African nation, was in preparation for an indefinite strike from Sept. 21.

Police in Lagos said they were investigating the death of one person during the strike in the neighbourhood of Mile 2, after suspected protesters blocked a major road and burned tyres. There were no other reports of violence.

Tinubu, who inherited a struggling economy with record debt and high inflation, is under pressure to offer relief to workers after he scrapped a popular but costly petrol subsidy, which caused pump prices to soar. He also ended currency controls, causing the naira to weaken sharply.

"Today's action is to see how government can reverse its policy because every family is feeling the pain of harsh policies ... which has resulted in the astronomical increase in transportation, food, goods and services," said Angese John, the NLC's secretary in the oil-producing Bayelsa state.

Labour Minister Simon Lalong told reporters late on Monday that the government had asked unions to give the government time to create jobs and urged them to suspend the strike.

But most banks in the capital city of Abuja were shut on Tuesday while electricity workers were locked out of their premises by unions, causing power cuts in many homes and offices.

In several states, including northern Kano and Kaduna, union officials were enforcing a stay at home order for schools and banks.

In the commercial capital of Lagos, the strike was more muted because most workers are employed in the less unionised private and informal sectors.

On Monday, state security services asked university vice-chancellors to discourage students from engaging in acts that can cause unrest, ahead of the strike action.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja, MacDonald Dzirutwe in Lagos, Hamza Ibrahim in Kano and Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa; writing by Chijioke Ohuocha, editing by Ed Osmond and Sharon Singleton)