Nigeria's two biggest unions have called for an indefinite nationwide strike from October 3 to protest against the rising cost of living triggered by the removal of a fuel subsidy by new President Bola Tinubu.

The decision to shut down Africa's biggest economy and No.1 oil producer was taken by the leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), who announced their decision at a media conference broadcast on television.    

The two unions said they had no option but to protest the new measure facing the country and will therefore "embark on an indefinite and total shutdown of the nation on Tuesday Oct 3."     

Tinubu's decision to abolish petrol subsidies followed his inauguration in late May. Since then Africa's most populous country's has been facing rising transportation and food prices. 

A cabinet minister has previously said the consumption of fuel has reduced by 33% since the president’s directive.    

As a result of another measure taken by Tinubu to allow the local currency to float freely in the foreign exchange market, the naira has depreciated sharply against the dollar.     

Both the removal of the gasoline subsidy and floatation of the naira have sent inflation to an 18-year high. The naira reached a record low of 1,000 to the dollar on Tuesday, infuriating unions and the general public.     

The unions also resolved "to direct all workers in Nigeria to withdraw their services from their respective workplaces commencing on October 3," they said in their joint statement.    

They also directed all their affiliates to immediately start preparing “to organise street protests and rallies until the government responds positively to our demands."    

Tinubu removed the fuel subsidy saying the government could not afford it any longer, and that the money would be better spent on building roads, schools and hospitals. 

In 2022, the government spent $10 billion on the subsidy - causing widening budget deficits and a soaring government debt.

(Editing by Seban Scaria