Nigerian Marxists have always called for the setting up of a trade union based mass workers’ party. The Nigerian trade unions have the authority, the power and the mass following to do this. A few years ago a half-hearted attempt was made to launch the Nigerian Labour Party without much success. The union leaders didn’t give their full backing. Now, however, the party is becoming more attractive and in some states large numbers of workers are joining. Here we publish an editorial from the December 2009 edition of the Workers’ Alternative on this question.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) recently set up a Commission to investigate the extent of workers’ participation in and desire for the Labour Party. In spite of the Labour leadership’s claims that Nigerian workers do not desire a party of their own, the report of the investigation revealed the contrary.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky, the Nigerian section of the International Marxist Tendency organised a Marxist weekend school on August 27-28, where they discussed the history of the workers’ internationals and other questions. Comrades were very happy with the school and look forward to more such events.

Over 70% of the Nigerian population lives below the poverty line; life expectancy stands at 43 years; and 50,000 Nigerian women die from childbirth every year. Instead of finding a solution to these burning problems, the corrupt Nigerian elite is now playing with the idea of “electoral reform” and the labour leaders are falling for this. What is required is an independent party of the working class capable of leading the workers in a struggle to change society.

This year there was a massive display of working class militancy at the May Day rallies in Nigeria. What was evident, however, was the glaring contradiction between the main speeches calling for “dialogue” and the desire to take the road of militant strike action by the rank and file. The Marxists of the Workers’ Alternative intervened successfully with a huge sale of their paper and with many workers showing a keen interest in their ideas.

Inmates at a Kaduna Prison in Nigeria last Tuesday attempted a jailbreak, and no fewer than 15 of them are feared dead as security forces were called in to regain control of the situation. At the root of this situation are the appalling conditions in which the prisoners are kept, and beyond the prison itself the appalling living conditions of millions of Nigerian poor.

The Nigerian workers’ genuine mass organised expression is the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), a powerful trade union body. But they lacked a political expression, a genuine workers’ party. In recent times a Nigerian Labour Party has been formed, which has attracted some attention from activist within the movement. The problem is that the NLC has not put its full backing behind it, leaving it in a kind of half-way house, limbo state. What is required is to transform it into a genuine mass party with the full backing of the NLC.

Over the weekend of March 6-7, hundreds of people, including many women and children, were butchered like animals in ethnic conflicts near the city of Jos in Nigeria. This is not the first time such ethnic strife has erupted. It is a symptom of the decay of Nigerian society under the rule of a parasitic local bourgeoisie at the service of imperialism.

The physical ill-health of the present President of Nigeria is compounding the crisis of the regime. But whoever the ruling class replace him with, the anti-worker policies will stay the same. What is required is for the Nigerian Labour Party to break with the bourgeois elements and pose as a completely independent party of the working class.

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