Nigeria

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.