Africa

Yesterday attempts to amend the Nigerian Constitution to allow Obasanjo a third term in Office were defeated. Here we publish the latest Editorial of the Workers' Alternative written before the vote.

Beginning on March 8, International Working Women’s Day, the “Rank and File” Tendency of the National Student Union in Morocco organised a week of activities around the question of the emancipation of women. We publish here a report of the week of action. Picture gallery available here.

Some 180 students gathered in December at the University of Tetouan in the north of Morocco for the first ever meeting in solidarity with Venezuela. This historic initiative in Morocco and in the Arab world was taken by the left-wing students of the TAWAJOH AL KAAIDI, the young activists of the ‘rank-and-file’ tendency (‘tendance basistes’). This activity was part of a whole week of debates and discussions at the university about the right to education and the right to work.

Everywhere we look in the world the same process is taking place, privatisation, cuts in welfare, cuts in pensions, job losses and so on. In Nigeria this IMF/World Bank-inspired anti-working class programme is being carried out by the Obasanjo regime. But the workers are fighting back. Here we provide a sample of articles from the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers’ Alternative and its programme to combat the regime effectively.

The problem of unrepresentative trade union leadership is a worldwide one. Here we have an example of the corrupt leaders of a steel workers' union in Nigeria. As a result several branches have broken away and joined what they perceive as a more radical union. But the corrupt leaders of the steel workers are still there. It is the whole leadership that needs to be changed!

Venezuela and Nigeria are both oil-rich countries. But in Venezuela we have a genuine attempt at poverty alleviation, which has brought the Bolivarian regime into conflict with imperialism. In Nigeria, where Obasanjo even refuses to acknowledge that poverty exists, the regime has very good relations with imperialism

Thousands of people in Nigeria are driven by hunger to sell their bodies and souls to live; thousands of people, wretched and living in misery and appalling squalor, struggle to earn just enough to keep themselves alive; willing to work and begging for a chance, yet starving, condemned to hunger, dirt and disease. And yet president Obasanjo appearing on TV claims no one goes hungry in Nigeria! In which Nigeria does he live?

The sacked Dewhirst workers in Morocco are building up support for their struggle. Messages from Spain, Uruguay, Belgium, the USA, Britain and Sweden have been a big morale booster for them. The conditions in the factory are atrocious. Please keep the solidarity and protest messages coming in.

LASCO is an umbrella body that has emerged in Nigeria which purports to have a wider representation than the unions themselves. In reality it is a body with no powers and the top union bureaucrats simply hide behind it to defuse the movement whenever it erupts and then they put it to one side once this job is done. It is time to build action committees in all the workplaces, elected by the workers and recallable.

September witnessed an unprecedented wave of protest across the whole of Nigeria, with mass trade union rallies in all the major cities. The spark that set the movement in motion as the latest increase in the price of fuel, but the demands being raised, such as the call for the government to resign, and the mood displayed on the rallies all serve to underline that Nigeria is moving towards a revolutionary upheaval. An editorial statement from the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers’ Alternative.

We urge you to support this group of Moroccan workers who have been sacked simply for standing up for their rights. The British clothing manufacturer Dewhirst, linked to Marks and Spencer, pays Moroccan workers a pittance. Send protest messages and make them see that workers around the world will not accept such brutal policies.

Millions of people are facing starvation in Niger. Are we to believe that this is another “natural” disaster, as the media would like us to? The fact is that there is food available in the markets of Niger, but the people cannot afford to buy it. Again, profit comes before the lives of the poor.

In spite of being rich in oil Nigeria is in a state of collapse. Healthcare, education, transport, pensions and so on are all coming under attack. Unemployment is growing everywhere. An explosive mood is developing from below, while at the top the political leaders offer nothing but conferences, talk shops and so on. And yet it could be different, very different. It is in the hands of the leadership of the labour movement.

Yesterday there was a gigantic rally of protest in Lagos. The mood of anger simmering below the surface for so long is now erupting onto the streets of the cities and towns of Nigeria. This process marks the beginning of the end of the Obasanjo regime. Nigeria is poised to join the many other countries where the masses have successfully overthrown rotten regimes that are there only to serve the rich.

At the end of August the Obasanjo regime in Nigeria upped the price of fuel massively. This has provoked widespread anger among the workers and poor. Today the first of a series of rallies is taking place. Here we publish the text of a special leaflet produced for the occasion by the Nigerian Marxists of the Workers’ Alternative journal.

There has been a lot of talk about eradicating poverty in Africa over the past few days. Africa is a continent rich in raw materials. There is no logical reason why it should be poor. But under capitalism there is a logic, the logic of the greedy multinationals, of the capitalists who condemn Africa to this poverty.

On February 24, 2004 a large earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale rocked the Rif region in northern Morocco. More than one year later, hundreds of families continue to live in utter misery. Now other tremors are hitting the region.

To an ordinary sincere observer, a recent clampdown on a few corrupt officials by the Obasanjo administration is just a difficult to unravel riddle. How come an Obasanjo who did everything possible to cover up the certificate forgery scandal of the then speaker of the Federal House Of Representatives (Alhaji Buhari), even planned to reinstate him back after impeachment, could have become a saint overnight? Is this the Obasanjo who entered a deal with Abacha’s son, that all that he wanted back was half of what they stole? Now this same Obasanjo is prepared to stake everything to imprison these criminals.

The conflict in the Western Sahara is an important question for revolutionaries in the Maghreb not only from the theoretical point of view (taking into consideration the importance Marxism gives to the right of self-determination), but also from the political and practical side of the issue (as it is impossible to carry out the tasks of the socialist revolution in the region without putting forward a clear Marxist and internationalist understanding of the national question).

Tunisian student youth remain very defiant despite the repression against them. The immediate reason for the spontaneous student protest two weeks ago was dictator-president Ben Ali’s invitation to Ariel Sharon, the butcher of the Palestinian Intifada, to visit Tunisia in November. This invitation is becoming a focal point through which all the social frustrations of the youth in particular are erupting.

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.

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.

We publish this translation of an article that originally appeared in the last issue of La Riposte, the Marxist journal in France. The article analyses the role of French imperialism in the latest conflicts, and looks at the perspectives for future French involvement in the region. 

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?

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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