Nigeria

A few months ago, Nigeria was thrown into one of the deepest socio-religious controversies ever when Busola Dakolo, a celebrity photographer and wife of singer Timi Dakolo, accused Biodun Fatoyinbo, senior pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) of raping her on two different occasions when she was 16 years old. The accusation, in an explosive interview she granted YNaija, was released on social and mass media via four separate videos on 28 June 2019.

On Saturday 27 July, the African Action Congress (AAC), led by former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore, called Nigerians to a revolution, to take place on 5 August. This has predictably gained the attention of the ruling class as well as a layer of radicalised youth.

18 comrades from Lagos, Ibadan and Ekiti gathered at the Digital Bridge Institute, Cappa, Lagos state, on Saturday and Sunday 15-16 June for the national congress of the Campaign for Workers’ and Youth Alternative – the Nigerian section of International Marxist Tendency (IMT). Comrades arrived with a lot of enthusiasm, which reflected the radical change in the situation in the country.

We publish here a second round of May Day reports, from Pakistan, Indonesia, El Salvador and Nigeria. In all these countries, the on-going capitalist crisis has led to great exploitation and injustice, and workers are engaged in struggles on several fronts for decent wages and living conditions. Many are drawing radical conclusions, and responded very well to our comrades’ message of revolutionary class struggle!

The recent Nigerian elections reveal how discredited the two parties of the establishment have become after 20 years of bourgeois ‘democracy’, laying bare the ruling elite’s inability to solve any of the fundamental problems of society. While the APC has almost exhausted the overwhelming goodwill it enjoyed during its initial entry onto the stage, the PDP has equally proven incapable of overcoming the shock it received when it was booted out of power in 2015.

Nigerians woke up on Saturday, 16 February 2019, to the shocking news of the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, scheduled for that day. But what class interests lay behind this decision? The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, made the announcement a few hours before the opening of the polls. This was after he had been repeatedly assuring Nigerians and international observers that the elections were going ahead.

On 12 February, over 100 workers and Marxist supporters gathered at the conference hall of the Federal Secretariat of Ibadan, Oyo State, for a symposium organised by the Campaign for a Workers’ Alternative (CWA), the Nigerian Section of the International Marxist Tendency, entitled “Minimum wage and the workers’ struggle for power: beyond 2019”. The symposium invited eight lead speakers, out of which six eventually made it. The Oyo State TUC Chairman and the NLC Chairman could not attend due to an impromptu meeting called by the Governor of the State, which required their presence.

On 25 January 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen from office, and immediately swore in the most senior Supreme Court Justice, Justice Ibrahim Muhammed, as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. According to President Muhammodu Buhari, the act was his way of executing an order ‘ex-parte’ of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which was granted on 23 January 2019.

Trotsky wrote in the Transitional Programme: “The capitalists are tobogganing towards disaster with their eyes closed.” Today in Nigeria, we can make a simple modification to this assertion that the Nigerian ruling elites are tobogganing towards disaster with their eyes wide open. They can see what is happening, they can see what is coming, but they can do absolutely nothing to prevent it.

When the Abacha dictatorship in Nigeria (1993-98) was facing collapse, the Nigerian elite, backed and advised by imperialism, prepared the ground for a transition to a bourgeois democratic regime. The various presidents, from Obasanjo to Buhari today, have run corrupt regimes, doing nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Nigerian masses, while enriching themselves and their cronies in the process.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday suspended its general strike on its fourth day, after the government agreed to meet the unions on October 4-5 to discuss an increase in the minimum wage. The call for the strike had surprised the union leaders themselves, who had not expected such a massive response. Now they are doing everything to demobilise.

Like a hydra-headed monster, once again, ethnic tension has risen to near boiling point, threatening to tear Nigeria apart. This time around, it is the renewed call for secession of the South Eastern region (the Igbos) from Nigeria by the “Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)” to form the Republic of Biafra, that is haunting the nation. Similar agitation for Biafra in the late sixties eventually led to three years of civil war from 1967 to 1970, in which over two million men, women and children perished.

Ships are presently sitting outside Nigerian ports with two and half million tonnes of refined fuel but are not unloading their cargo because local buyers cannot access enough dollars to pay for the importation. Planes are not taking off from airports in Nigeria due to lack of aviation fuel. Police have been stationed at petrol stations. The country is facing the most serious crisis in its history.

Nigeria is an oil-rich country and yet periodically it faces massive fuel shortages. The inept Nigerian bourgeoisie is incapable even of building the necessary fuel refineries to provide enough fuel for the home market. The reason for this is that it is more profitable to trade in importing refined fuel than to produce it themselves! Here we provide a comment on the situation from a comrade in Nigeria.

As the third wave of global crisis of capitalism is approaching – the first and second waves being respectively the sub-prime housing and European sovereign debt crises – the so-called emerging and developing economies are entering deeper into economic, political and economic crisis. Nigeria connects to this global crisis through the mechanism of the global crude oil glut and collapsing commodity prices.

After sixteen years in power, the PDP has finally been removed by the Nigerian masses. This is a direct consequence of the mass movement that erupted in January 2012. Buhari has been elected by enthusiastic masses in the hope that he will provide real change. But his programme remains one of continuation of privatisations and sell-offs. It will not be long before the Nigerian masses realise this from their own living experience.

With the oil price below $60 per barrel and with the significant collapse of Nigeria’s oil market as a result of the US’s zero importation from Nigeria since July 2014, it is clear that the Nigerian economy is facing a serious crisis. This situation has been made even more serious by the fact that the crisis comes at a time when Nigeria’s foreign reserves stand at less than $34billion.

Boko Haram has carried out a number of suicide bomb attacks, such as the one that took place in Maiduguri in northern Nigeria earlier this week, in which 78 people were killed. Over the last four years, suicide bombings have become one of the avowed weapons of the right-wing Boko Haram insurgency campaign in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country. Musa Atiku explains the background to all this.

As a result of the increased domestic production of shale oil, the US has slashed crude oil imports from a peak of almost 14 million barrels per day in 2006, to slightly above 7 million barrels per day. Crude oil imports from Nigeria, one of the principal sources of light crude, were also slashed from more than one million barrels per day in 2010 to zero in July 2014.This figure is unprecedented since Nigeria started exporting oil about 40years ago.

In 1998 a number of students were arrested at the University of Ilorin for organising protests against hikes in student fees. They were held in prison for over a month and this website campaigned for their release at the time. One of the students involved in that struggle was Rasheedat Adeshina, a leader of the student union. The price she paid for daring to protest was that although she passed all her exams brilliantly, her degree certificate was never released by the authorities. It has taken 14 years, but finally she has won.

The abduction by the Islamic fundamentalist Boko Haram group of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok in the north of the country and the way the Nigerian government has reacted to it has highlighted the truly corrupt nature of the regime. It has revealed its utter cynicism in the face of the real suffering of the masses.

The dramatic events that have unfolded in this country in the past few weeks – among them the abduction of over 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram – confirm more than ever the complete impotence of the inept and extremely corrupt Nigerian ruling class, and also the rottenness of the country's armed forces, in the face of the insurgency.

On February 27, 2014, the Boko Haram sect entered into a Federal Government Secondary school in Yobe and massacred over 60 harmless and innocent school children in their sleep.  It was reported that the army stationed to protect the young students walked away from the gate a few minutes before the attack took place.

The crude dismissal of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido by the Goodluck regime on February 20 shocked many. It is technically a dismissal in spite of the claim of suspension pending investigation. The overwhelming majority can clearly see that this is the price for blowing the whistle on the massive looting taking place in the oil sector and an intensification of the intra-class conflicts going on within the Nigerian ruling class.

The term revolution is probably one of the most popular terms among the Nigerian masses and youth today. Clearly, revolution is most desired by the masses in the face of undue and unbearable hardship. Even key members of the Nigerian ruling class use the term revolution intermittently to warn themselves of the inevitable consequences of their recklessness and degeneration.

This is a report from an activist of the Nigerian Marxist paper Workers’ Alternativewho visited Maiduguri twice some weeks ago and stayed there for two weeks cumulatively in collaboration with a working class activist on the ground in Maiduguri . The report gives a true insight into state of things in this hot zone in Nigeria.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on 14 May declared an indefinite state of emergency in three north-eastern states in Nigeria. In his speech he conveniently ignored the fact that he had earlier declared states of emergencies in two of these states already back in December 2011. The state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, Plateau & Niger, are yet to be called off. If the earlier declared emergency rule failed in its declared aims, what will make this one work, as the conditions remain the same?

During the past week the barbaric acts of the Nigerian Islamist organisation Boko Haram have repulsed people around the world. Barak Obama along with other western government leaders have all denounced these ‘acts of pure evil’. However these gentlemen conveniently forget their own role in creating this monster. Here we republish an article which explains the origins of Boko Haram and how it is a product of Imperialism itself.

The landslide victory of Comrade Adams Oshiomole [the former leader of the Nigerian Labour Congress] in the Edo State Governorship election on Saturday, 14th July 2012 marks a major watershed in the history of politics in Nigeria.

The situation is moving at lightning speed on a world scale. After the Arab Revolution, events followed in quick succession: the movement of the indignados in Spain; the wave of strikes and demonstrations in Greece; the riots in Britain; the movement in Wisconsin and the Occupy movement in the U.S.; the overthrow of Gaddafi; the fall of Papandreou and Berlusconi; all these are symptoms of the present epoch. (See Perspectives for world capitalism 2012 (Draft discussion document) – Part One); and, if we may add, there was the magnificent movement of millions of Nigerian masses in January of this year.

This article was written by a Nigerian Marxist at the height of the recent general strike. It gives a flavour of the sudden change in mood among the oppressed Nigerian masses, their entry onto the scene of history, their desire to take their destiny into their own hands. Although the strike was eventually called off by the trade union leaders, Nigeria will not go back to what it was before the strike. 

Nigeria's trade union leaders have suspended the general strike as it was entering its second week. This comes after the government approved came up with a “compromise” on the pump price of petrol to 97 naira (about $0.60) per litre, instead of the initial 140 naira. This is still an increase from the 65 naira ($0.40). Here we provide eyewitness reports of the events over the past week, (written before the calling off of the strike) which clearly indicate a radical change within the Nigerian working class, something that is not going to go away whatever the ruling class or the trade unions agree on.

As the movement against the fuel price hikes and corruption continues, Ola Kazeem expains how the Nigerian masses are radicalising as the struggle is developing. The demand for the president to step down is becoming ever louder.

History was made today, 9th January 2012, as Lagosians in their thousands harkened to the call of the Labour and Civil Society Organisation (LASCO) to embark on a nationwide strike/mass protest toexpress their dissatisfaction with the recent increment in the pump price of petrol as announced by the Goodluck Jonathan-led government on 1st of January. LASCO encompasses the two labour centers in Nigeria i.e. the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as the Joint Action Front (JAF) which is the umbrella body of the pro-labour civil society organisations.

In the final analysis, terrorism becomes an instrument of the oppressors against the oppressed majority. Over the years the Nigerian ruling elite has maintained its grip over the country on the basis of the old and tested method of divide and rule, a method inherited from the past colonial masters and perfected by the Nigerian ruling elite.

Police has fired tear gas at protestors in Nigeria angry at the latest increase in the price of fuel. In the northern town of Kano around 300 people were wounded in the attack and 19 were arrested. Tension has been mounting as protesters have clashed with riot police in different parts of Nigeria for the past three days and the trade unions have called for a nationwide indefinite strike to start Monday. More protests are expected across the country in the coming days. Here we provide the Editorial statement of the Workers’ Alternative on this key issue affecting the Nigerian masses.

Human consciousness is naturally conservative. People naturally stick to the old ways of doing things, but when a great event occurs, consciousness becomes transformed in a matter of seconds and people begin to question what they have not been questioning before. This perfectly confirms the present Nigerian situation. (3 January 2012)

Although the Nigerian economy has been officially growing at over 6% for the past 5 years, the poverty rate keeps increasing; youth unemployment has risen to an unprecedented 47% and over 80 per cent of Nigerian youth don’t have more than a secondary school certificate.

In November 2005, during the tenure of Obasanjo with Okonjo Iweala as finance minister, Nigeria paid the huge sum of 12 billion dollars to buy back 18 billion dollars of debt owed to the Paris Club. This prepared the ground for Nigeria to completely pay off its debt by April 2006. And it also made her the first African country to fully pay off its debt (estimated at $30 billion) owed to the Paris Club. This “exit” from the debt trap was celebrated both nationally and internationally; the celebrations alone were estimated to have consumed 2.4billion Naira.

Further to the yesterday’s appealfor solidarity, we are publishing an account of the anti-union activities at Dangote Pasta which led to the victimisation of the union organisers at the plant, including the firing of 200 workers who refused to leave the union.

Nigerian workers joined their brothers and sisters throughout the world to celebrate Workers’ Day on May 1st. In Lagos State, the celebration was held at Onikan Stadium. Workers trooped into the stadium en masse to mark the day. However, they had a surprise coming, with the newly elected State Governor giving them a lecture about how increases in workers’ wages cause inflation!

The political drama that unfolded with the April 2011 general elections turned out to be all revealing about the real nature and the deceit of the various sections of the Nigerian ruling class; and more obvious was the lack of genuine political alternative to the present rot in society, which a number of critical voters unconsciously sought during the elections.

The revolutions unfolding in North Africa and the Middle East are having an impact well beyond the Arab world. In Nigeria too, the effects are being felt. Here we publish a comment by a Nigerian Marxist on what lessons can be drawn from these events for workers in Nigeria.

The Nigerian ruling class continues to lose its social base. And rather than this process being reversed, it is accelerating. The main social base upon which this present bourgeois democratic experiment bases itself has been almost completely eroded. The ruling class finds itself more and more isolated from the ever increasing mass of Nigerian masses.

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!