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
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.
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.
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?
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).
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
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.
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.
On June 9 the workers of Nigeria embarked on yet another general strike. Two days later it had already been called off. There is a stalemate situation that has developed between the classes that must be resolved one way or the other. For the workers to come out on top they need their own party.