Africa

In May Obasanjo, the President of Nigeria, imposed a state of emergency on Plateau State, removing the local state governor. The measures were taken after serious ethnic conflicts erupted in the area, but behind all this lies a more sinister agenda. The central government is preparing the ground for more bonapartist measures, that are ultimately aimed against the labour movement.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (the main trade union federation in Nigeria) has been under pressure to launch its own party. The leaders of the NLC have unfortunately always run after the coat-tails of Obasanjo's PDP. Earlier this year some elements within the NLC did indeed launch a party, the PSD (Party for Social Democracy). But they did so without really doing anything to seriously publicise the party and take it to the workers. The NLC was not seen to be officially backing it. This led to its disastrous electoral results earlier this year. Here we publish an article from the Workers' Alternative on the party's programme.

The Nigerian ruling class is famous for its levels of corruption and incompetence. What is even more striking is the way it was created. The irony of the situation in Nigeria is that the working class came into being long before the “ruling class”. This was due to the colonial domination on the part of British imperialism. Here a Nigerian Marxist looks at this apparent contradiction.

Wole Soyinka is a prominent Nigerian playwright, and in 1986, he became the first African writer ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In October 1965, Soyinka was arrested for allegedly seizing the Western Region radio studios and using them to publicly dispute the published results of the recent elections, but in December of the same year, he was acquitted. Didi Cheeka of the Workers' Alternative Editorial Board looks at the ideas and works of this well known writer.

In Part Two of his article, Didi Cheeka shows how Soyinka's works express the struggle for " the liberation of the individual, for the individual, by the individual and the removal of general liberation for the mass of the people". It arises from the petit-bourgeois intellectual's conception of human nature in completely individualistic terms, divorced from all social being. It is, nevertheless, a tribute to Soyinka that at the height of the ethnic cleansing that presaged the Nigeria/Biafra civil war he was shrill in his condemnation of the perpetrators. He paid for this with 27 months in detention. Again he protested against the brutal repression of students in 1978. But his...

Wole Soyinka is a prominent Nigerian playwright, and in 1986, he became the first African writer ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In October 1965, Soyinka was arrested for allegedly seizing the Western Region radio studios and using them to publicly dispute the published results of the recent elections, but in December of the same year, he was acquitted. Didi Cheeka of the Workers' Alternative Editorial Board looks at the ideas and works of this well known writer.

Since Obasanjo came to power in 1999, the regime has been trying to portray a picture of itself as “modernising”, anti-corruption and generally a new type of regime based on rectitude and respect for democratic principles. In reality beneath this façade lies the same old corrupt, despotic ruling class. This is the case of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, who two years ago sacked more than sixty lecturers. In Nigeria this question has made front page headlines and is still attracting a lot of attention. Our correspondent in Ilorin interviewed the chairman of the Ilroin branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Yesterday's announced general strike was called off as the Obasanjo regime was forced to give in to the demands of the trade unions. The mere threat of a strike has been enough to gain victory. This now poses a dilemma before the ruling elite in Nigeria: how to govern the country in the face of such a militant and organised working class?

Tomorrow, Thursday, October 9, an indefinite general strike is scheduled to start in Nigeria. The reason for the announced strike is another increase in the price of fuel, which follows on from last June's increase which provoked an 8-day general strike. The country is now bracing itself for a major confrontation between the classes. What is being prepared is a colossal clash between the mass of working people and the privileged few who sit at the top.

We only received this analysis of last June's general strike in Nigeria a few weeks after it was written. This was due to technical reasons. Although we published several articles at the time of the strike, we believe the present article will be of interest to our readers as it was written by Nigerian Marxists inside the country.

Last week's general strike in Nigeria revealed the enormous power of the working class. Unfortunately, once again they have been betrayed by their leaders. The government has got away with a 30% increase in the price of fuel! It is time to build the left in the unions and a mass workers' party.

An Editorial Board statement of the Workers' Alternative on the outcome of the June general strike and the political conclusions that can be drawn from it.

The masses in Nigeria are showing enormous willingness to struggle. It is now spreading to the a key sector, the oil workers. But this militancy is not matched by the leaders of the unions who are negotiating with the government a reduced increase in the price of oil. That is not why millions of workers have been out on strike for.

The workers of Nigeria are once again on the move with the start of today's indefinite general strike. This is a first report about what is happening there. Further analysis will follow in the next few days.

We have received reports on the latest developments at the OAU in Ife, Nigeria, from the students involved in the struggle. In spite of a determined effort by the student leaders to stop the massive fees increase, because of many factors, not least the totally treacherous role of the student leadership nationally (NANS), for now the authorities have managed to impose their measures. But this is not going to be the end of the story.

The need for clarification on what has been happening at the OAU (Ife, Nigeria) is very urgent considering the level of propaganda and outright lies and distortions that the authorities have been churning out to the international community. Here we are publishing a reply from the students involved in the struggle.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the first edition of the Workers' Alternative, the Nigerian Marxist journal. It has not been easy keeping the banner of genuine Marxism flying in the conditions that prevail in Nigeria but the comrades have kept going thanks to the support and encouragement from their numerous supporters and readers, inside and outside Nigeria. Now to mark the anniversary they are making an appeal for more support.

Five years after the fall of the hated military dictator of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha, we look at why he came to power and why in the end the same ruling elite that had supported him was forced to intervene to remove for fear of the mass movement that was building up from below.

The OAU University authorities are trying to stalemate negotiations with the student union, further enraging the mass of students. Keep sending in your protest messages. Today we received important protest message from Greek trade unionists and youth and from the Spanish School Students' Union. By Isiaka Adegbile, one of the victimised students.

An interesting insight into the proliferation of religious superstition in Nigeria over the past few years, a reflection of the impasse of society.

It all began when the Prof. Rogers-led university management indicated their intention to blow up the payable fees in the university from N590.00 to N4,500 for the old students and from N1,500 to N9,500 for the new students. The crisis has been lingering since then.

The boss needs a rest. He goes home and locks the doors to the factory. A fire breaks out and a hundred workers are burnt alive as they desperately try to escape. The horror of 21st century capitalism in Nigeria.

On Saturday forty-one people were killed and many more were injured in Casablanca, Morocco, in a terrorist attack which came only four days after the synchronised suicide bombings on expatriate residences in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. This striking event, and the other recent attacks, are clear indications that the so-called "war on terror" was far from finished with the fall of Saddam Hussein.

This article, written by a Nigerian trade union leader argues the case against privatisation of the state-run NEPA electricity company.

Last year we publicised the plight of a group of Nigerian students who were shot at and arrested during one of their protes. Here one of those students describes the appalling conditions in Nigerian jails, but he also draws inspiration from his experience to continue in the struggle to transform society, the most noble cause anyone can dedicate themselves to.

The implications of the INEC Registration of the PSD, NCP and 22 other parties for the forthcoming Nigerian elections.

Since the introduction of Sharia law in the northern states of Nigeria the plight of Nigerian women has come to the attention of the world. In particular young women have been condemned to being stoned to death after being charged of the "crime" of adultery. This is a particularly barbaric aspect of class society and will only really be eradicated together with the system that spawns it, when the workers of Nigeria overthrow capitalism. Below we are publishing a comment on this situation by a Nigerian Marxist.

We are continuing our series of articles on Nigerian Trade Unions disputes. Here we make available to our readers articles from our Nigerian worker correspondents from June 1999. These news items are taken from the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers' Alternative.

With this new series of articles on Nigeria we plan to publish over the next few weeks news items on Nigerian Trade Unions disputes. We have received a series of articles from our Nigerian worker correspondents over the last few years and we are now making them available to our readers. Most of the news items are taken from the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers' Alternative. They give a clear feeling of the militant mood of the Nigerian working class.

Last week a group of six NANS (National Association of Nigerian Students) activists was arrested at Ondo State University, Nigeria. One of those arrested is Dotun Ilori who suffered a slight gunshot wound as the police opened fire on the students. This was during a two-day lecture boycott by the students to protest the victimisation of the students' union leaders of the university. A campaign is now under way in Nigeria for their release. We are appealing to all our supporters, sympathisers and readers in general to take part in our solidarity campaign for these students.

The terrible ethnic clashes and killing of over 200 people in Northern Nigeria that erupted around the Miss World pageant have brought to the attention of the world media the national question in this impoverished African country. What was the real cause of the conflicts? Fred Weston puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of western imperialism and their local lackeys in Nigeria.

Due to the immense poverty and apparent hopeless situation of ordinary working people in Nigeria many of the old superstitions still survive today. Comrade CD in Lagos, of the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers' Alternative explains why.

The demand for a minimum wage is key to the improvement of the living conditions of millions of Nigerian workers. This article, from the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers’ Alternative, explains the issues involved. (October 2000)

In this article, the comrades of the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers' Alternative, examine the revolutionary essence of the music and songs of the late Afro-beat master, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who died on August 2, 1997. The article was originally written on the first anniversary of his death. This artist was extremely popular among African workers and youth for the radical and revolutionary content of his lyrics.

The objective situation in Nigeria can best be described as a big time bomb ticking at a very fast rate. The Trade Union leadership is under a lot of pressure, as big revolts over wages and working conditions have broken out. They are still holding back the movement qualitatively but it is only a matter of time before it explodes on a higher level. Many of the big companies are now directly cutting wages by as much as 40%-70%. The pressures on the lower classes are mounting by the day. The stock exchange is always overheating. A crash is inevitable.

As was to be predicted the ANC government and the employers made a combined effort to discredit COSATU's two-day general strike on October 1 and 2. The strike has opened the doors for an all-out attack on COSATU by the right wing of the ANC. This started with Thabo Mbeki's statements on Friday to the effect that the "ANC is not a vehicle for socialism" and that anyone who disagreed was welcomed to leave, and accusing COSATU of being infiltrated by the "ultra-left".

Phineas Malapela, member of the Executive of the Anti-Privatisation Forum and member of the Vaal Working Class Communities Co-ordinating Committee spoke to In Defence of Marxismbefore the recent October 1-2 general strike in South Africa. He explains the devastating effects of the privatisation policies of the ANC government on ordinary working class people in South Africa and explains how people are organising to defend themselves.

The process of privatisation and increase in school fees is common the world over. In Nigeria there are plans to impose huge increases in university fees on students who are already finding it difficult to cover their costs. At the same time, university staff has not been receiving wages. At the OAU University in Ife Nigeria the workers and the students are fighting back. The workers have been out on strike and the students are supporting them. We are publishing a press statement we have received from the Ife students.

We are publishing an article sent to us from the Editorial Board of the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers' Alternative and is to be published in the next edition of their paper. It argues the case against the privatisation plans of the Obasanjo regime and poses the need for planned economy in Nigeria.

Hosting the World Summit for Sustainable Development was an important test for the ANC government in South Africa. Since it came to power in 1994 the ANC government has pursued openly pro-capitalist policies. A growing protest movement has emerged, particularly from the poorest townships where residents are being cut off from water and electricity and evicted because they cannot pay their bills.

The South African working class movement has a long tradition of singing revolutionary songs and toy-toying as a way of expressing its ideas, anger and willingness to struggle. The 11th Congress of the South African Communist Party (SACP), held from July 24-28 2002 in Rustenburg in the North West Province, was no exception. This time revolutionary songs reflected very well the anger of the rank and file delegates against the policies and leadership of the ANC which have failed in government to solve any of the problems facing the South African workers and the poor. The only way forward is energetic organization around a clear, genuinely socialist programme.

Jordi Martorell looks at the 2002 SACP pre-congress documents in the light of the developments in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994. The positive break with the Stalinist two-stage theory must not mean a retreat into social-democratic ideas. The break with Stalinism should mean a return to the genuine revolutionary ideas of Lenin, for socialism and the overthrow of capitalism as the only way to acheive genuine liberation.
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