Protesters, however, say the time has come to end government corruption in a nation where military rulers and politicians have stolen billions.
Already the strike has exposed ethnic and religious divisions. An angry mob attacked a mosque and a Muslim school on Tuesday, killing at least five people in the country’s largely Christian south, the Nigerian Red Cross said.
Unrest could affect oil production in Nigeria, which pumps about 2.4 million barrels of oil a day and is a top crude supplier to the United States. Yet most oil fields remain unmanned and offshore oil fields provide much of its capacity.
Babatunde Ogun, president of one major union representing oil workers, said Wednesday his group planned to escalate its strike.
“It means in the short term, there will be no export of [natural] gas. There will be no power,” Mr. Ogun said. “Everything will be at a standstill.”
The strike has closed Lagos’ busy Apapa Port, cutting off cargo shipments.
Businesses remain shuttered, while air carriers canceled more international flights. Organizers say the strike will continue until the government restores the subsidies.