Some women groups marched through Abuja on Monday to demonstrate support for the fuel subsidy withdrawal by the Federal Government.
The women, including traders and members of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), pleaded with Nigerians to give President Goodluck Jonathan a chance.
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, who addressed the rally, thanked the organisers for coming out to support the removal of the fuel subsidy.
She said: “I urge you to take this message to the grassroots people and sensitise our people on the need for this action by government. Please be peaceful and I wish you all success.”
Mrs. Nkechi Mba, the national president of the council, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the women would be sensitised about the benefits of the removal of fuel subsidy because its benefits outweighed its disadvantages.
“We are here to plead with our husbands and to educate women on the need for the removal of fuel subsidy. We are going to educate women at the grassroots on the benefits of the removal.
“The minister has explained to us that the subsidy would be used to build schools and create infrastructure for Nigerians and we agree with her.”
Chief Adenike Lawal, the National President, National Traders and Market Leaders Council of Nigeria, told NAN that “we want peace in Nigeria.
“The 774 market leaders from all the local governments in Nigeria are here and we are speaking with one voice that the removal will have benefits.
“We appeal to members of the public to be patient and to NLC to call off the strike. We have also directed that all traders should not increase prices of goods arbitrarily.”
Also speaking to NAN, the President of the Abuja chapter of the Market Women Association, Mrs. Felicia Sanni, said that the speculation that prices would skyrocket was unfounded.
“There is a rumour that the prices of food items will be too high and the masses will suffer. This is not true; we will not increase our prices anyhow.”
Yeye Bola Dare, the founder of the Mother Theresa Children Home, who was also at the rally, told NAN that Nigerians should give the president a chance to implement his policies.
“Nigerian women have come to speak with one voice. Please I appeal that we give the president a chance to transform this country. We are all mothers who want peace.”
Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “Conflict does not benefit anybody”, “We have a listening president”, “NLC, TUC, NBA, students, Please Let's Dialogue” among others.
Meanwhile traders at Watts Market in Calabar metropolis have expressed dissatisfaction over the strike by organised labour in protest over the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
The traders expressed their views in an interview with NAN in Calabar on Monday.
Some of the traders told NAN that the strike was unnecessary, and that since the Federal Government was making efforts to cushion the effect of the removal of oil subsidy, “labour should hold its breadth.”
Mr Innocent Eze, a trader, told NAN that he was not in support of any action that would further deteriorate the economy.
“Our economy is in bad shape, so I am not in support of the strike by labour because it will further worsen the economy,” he said.
Another trader, Mr Malcus Edet, also said that labour had no reason to embark on strike.
According to him President Jonathan is doing everything possible to fix the economy.
“President Jonathan is doing everything to repair the country and people should give him the chance.
“We cannot continue to do things the same way, so they should allow him to try his best,” he said.
“That man (Jonathan) is a good man and I do not think he will do anything to punish the masses.”
In a related development, some taxi drivers in Calabar have called on organised labour to shelve the strike and give the president a chance to guide the economy.
Mr Anthony Bassey, a taxi driver, said the president meant well for the future by removing the subsidy, adding that he should be commended for his boldness.
“I believe there is something that the man is seeing in this thing that the ordinary man is not seeing and that has made him to remain bold.
“I think Nigerians should just exercise some patience and let us see what will happen, after all many past administrations have tried and failed,” he said.
Mrs Immaculate Ibanga, a housewife, said labour should be careful the way they go about the strike, noting that the security situation in the country was very fragile.
“I am afraid of opposition parties and Boko Haram joining labour in the protest, which may result to some crisis in parts of the country,” she said.
Residents of Auchi in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo went about their normal businesses in total disregard of the strike.
NAN correspondents, who went round the town, observed that with the exception of schools and banks every other business such as shops, petrol stations, motor parks, markets and other smaller businesses where opened for business.
However, contrary to expectation, residents, who opened for business, said they did so in order not to go hungry.
A fruit seller, Mrs Fatima Mamodu, said, “Though I do not like the way things are in the country right now, but I had to open for business today for my fruits not to perish.”
In his account, the manager of a petrol station, Mr Audu Usman, said the station decided to open having observed the calmness around the town and also the fact that other businesses had opened.
On his part, Alhaji Megida Ikharia, the chairman of “Angle 90” branch of the NUTRW said members were operating based on the directive from the union's national president not to join the strike.
A commuter, Mr Sanni Emoedume, called on Nigerians to be patient with the president's decision, which he considered to be the best for the country.
He said: “I truly commend the president for having the political will to take the decision. We complain of unemployment, decayed infrastructure, poor health system, why don't we give the president a chance to see if his policy will take us out of this logjam.
The strike, however, paralysed all economic and social activities in Benin.
NAN reports that there was total compliance with all markets, shops, banks, government and private offices shut.
NAN also reports that members of the organised labour and members of Coalition to Save Nigeria (CSN) took over the Ring Road, to protest the fuel subsidy removal. (NAN)