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Nigeria braced for general strike

LAGOS (Reuter) - Nigeria, reeling from labour and political unrest, faces more turbulence this week when a general strike begins as part of concerted efforts to force the military government to free the presidential claimant, Chief Moshood Abiola.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), grouping 41 trade unions, decided on Friday that its 3.5 million members would stay at home from Wednesday after failing to persuade the head of state, General Sani Abacha, to free Chief Abiola.

'We didn't want a general strike but we have no choice but to call one, because General Abacha won't listen to us,' an NLC official said.

One of two striking oil workers' unions said it would boycott talks due today on a stoppage that is hurting oil production, the lifeblood of the economy. 'We won't be attending, because the government has not shown enough seriousness on all the issues,' said Arthur Onoviran, spokesman for Pengassan, the white-collar oil union. Its junior partner, Nupeng, is also likely to boycott the meeting.