Africa


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Last month the dictator of Tunisia, Ben Ali, sent Sharon an invitation to visit the country. This has provoked massive opposition from the youth. Throughout the whole of last week, one school after another, one campus after another, came out in protest. Many have been arrested and badly beaten by the police. Thus Tunisia joins the long list of unstable countries throughout the region, but because the protests are against a regime that is a friend of US imperialism these have not made the headlines like the events in Lebanon.

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The impasse of the Obasanjo regime has provoked one general strike after another. The situation is very explosive. To try and divert attention from the real issues the regime has now come up with the idea of a delegate conference known as “National Dialogue”, which opened on February 21. The petit-bourgeois opposition is calling for an alternative conference. Both are clearly diversions aimed at holding back the movement of the masses. The only way out is for the NLC leaders to break with all these manoeuvres and build a party of labour.

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The planned November 16 general strike in Nigeria was called off at the last minute after the government accepted a small reduction in the price of fuel. We have seen this scenario before. The government has been let off the hook yet again, but for how long?

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After the four-day warning general strike, the Nigerian unions are calling on workers to resume strike action on November 16. This time it will no longer be limited to the issue of the price of fuel. The situation is becoming very tense. The workers have reached the limit of what they can take. They are putting immense pressure on the leadership of the NLC to act decisively.

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This article was written by a member of the Editorial Board of the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers’ Alternative. Shortly after we received it we were informed that the government has increased the price of fuel by a further 15 Naira. This can only be seen as a serious provocation. It exposes the government for what it is. And it renders almost impossible any idea of a deal between the unions and the government. If the government does not back off on this then the leaders of the Nigerian unions have no choice but to pull out all the workers again.

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After last week’s general strike in Nigeria the leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) gave the government until October 27th to come up with a reasonable proposal on the price of fuel, otherwise the strike would resume. The leader of the NLC, Adamas Oshiomhole, has said that in such a secenario the unions would make the country “ungovernable”.

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Today is the fourth day of the Nigerian Labour Congress’ four-day warning general strike. However, the strike may be resumed on Monday after the police have killed, arrested and beaten workers and trade union leaders. The general strike is posing the question of power, but the union leaders refuse to call for the downfall of the government.

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The leaders of the NLC have confirmed the strike is going ahead today. Saturday’s arrest and injury of Adams Oshiomhole, President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, is an indication of the tension building up.

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The price of fuel has been increased by 25% and the Nigerian unions have called a general strike for Monday, October 11. The logical next step is for the unions to call for the resignation of the government and for them to build their own party and challenge for power.

Over recent months, the dramatic plight of the peoples of the Darfur province of western Sudan has received a great deal of attention from western governments, politicians, journalists and newscasters. Unfortunately, there is nothing exceptional about the situation in Darfur. Throughout the underdeveloped world, and particularly in Africa, starvation, mass displacement of populations, torture, rape, pillage and massacres are commonplace.


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The price of crude oil has broken through the $50 barrier. A series of events have contributed to this, the latest being the crisis in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, where Ijaw rebels are threatening to attack oil pipelines. These events are merely the extreme expression of a more widespread crisis that Nigeria is facing.

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Some of the leaders of the movement at OAU have been victimised. There is a campaign for their reinstatement.

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If the rate of US$2 per day is used to measure the poverty level, the percentage of those living below the poverty line in Nigeria stands at 90.8 percent of the population. At the same time the country has a foreign debt of $32.9 billion, on which it pays annually close to $3billion in interest. The imperialists together with their local lackeys, the Nigerian ruling class, are literally sucking the blood of the Nigerian masses.

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In just four years since the year 2000, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called mass strike action 7 times. Repeatedly the leaders of the NLC have let down the workers. It is time to move on. Ther wokers of Nigeria need a fighting trade union leadership and their own party. Workers’ Alternative Editorial Statement.

Education, universally, has evidently proven itself to be the sine qua non to the development, progress and advancement of a nation. As a result of this, it plays a pivotal role in the development, progress and advancement of all other sectors of the social, political and economic enclave of such a nation. Pathetically however, despite this indisputable fact, the story of education continues, day-in and day-out, to remain one of tragedy in Nigeria. Education, particularly (though not singularly) tertiary education, continually suffers from abject neglect by the Nigerian ruling class, which starves the tertiary institutions of funds. According to a UNESCO report, the average budgetary

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The crisis in the Nigerian pension scheme can be best appreciated when one has a graphic view of the inhuman and highly degrading conditions pensioners have been subjected to. It is either a case of non-payment of pensions and gratuity, or the creation of undue bottlenecks to frustrate and kill pensioners. They are constantly to go for worthless “identification parades”, and “verification exercises”, tortured in long queues, receive insults from dubious government officials or their servants, etc. The following examples show what the situation is.

As we go to press [July 2004], the strike called by the medical and health workers of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital has entered its third week, 38 days to be exact and the workers remain resolved to see it through in spite of heavy threats from management and government.


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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.

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When King Hassan II died at the end of the last century all expectations of change were concentrated in the figure of his son Mohammed VI. Fascination grew over this young and apparently modern monarch who announced he would transform his country, establish the rule of law and lead it successfully into the 21st century. Expectations were running high. Only one year after his arrival, the royal reform movement stalled - the alliance of the Throne and the socialists has not delivered the results the masses had hoped and waited for. This is a recipe for future explosions in the class struggle.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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...

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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.

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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).

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The new King Mohammed VI is fond of presenting an image of Morocco as a southern Mediterranean country steadily moving towards modernity and democracy. We asked two Moroccan Marxists to shed some light on these claims, which to many ordinary people seem completely unjustified.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A list of the articles that were published in the recent May-June edition of the Workers' Alternative.

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On May 27, the authorities there suspended five student union leaders for a session. These measures have been taken against the students because they have been leading a struggle against increases in university fees.

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

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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.

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An update on the main editorial, concentrating mainly on the recent April elections.

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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.

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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.

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Nothing good will come to the working people of Nigeria from the recent elections. None of the main candidates stand for the interests of the workers, the peasants, the urban poor, the unemployed, the students of Nigeria. They represent different cliques within the Nigerian ruling class.

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