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From The Socialist newspaper, 16 October 2004

Nigeria:

'Solid' General Strike Shows Fury At Elite

NIGERIA'S FIFTH general strike since June 2000 stopped the entire country when the four-day stoppage started on 11 October. This protest was again provoked by a jump in fuel prices.

Robert Bechert, CWI

Fuel price rises hit the Nigerian masses hard. Kerosene is used to transport people and goods, do the cooking or even generate electricity. Why should they, living in an oil-producing country, have to pay more for fuel when the world price goes up but the cost of oil production has not?

This new 25% increase was imposed less than 48 hours after the High Court decided that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC - the main trade union federation) was not entitled to call strikes. Immediately the state-owned National Petroleum Corporation jacked up fuel prices by 33%.

The anger is not just at the price rise increases but against the elite who are looting the country's wealth, especially its oil. People are disillusioned with the rule of President Obasanjo and other capitalist politicians since civilian rule was restored in 1999.

While Nigeria's economy has stagnated, the elite have continued to loot and thoroughly rigged the 2003 elections to ensure they stayed in power. Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank vice-president, gets $247,000 a year, one of the world's highest paid ministers in a government intent on neo-liberal measures.

Every general strike since June 2000 was solid and was followed by Nigerian workers, small shopkeepers, market women etc. As the Financial Times commented, the unions have become "the country's most high-profile opposition movement".

This struggle has now become a test of how far the Obasanjo government can go in dismantling workers' and trade union rights.

Since 2000 previous general strikes only won, at best, partial victories. The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM, Nigerian section of the CWI) has worked for a real mobilisation especially by creating joint strike/action committees in the workplaces and communities, both to organise the struggle and as the means for the masses to sustain themselves in a longer struggle.

The DSM has played a prominent role in organising the struggle in Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, and elsewhere. In many communities DSM members have organised meetings to build support for the struggle and to initiate strike/action committees.

5,000 copies of the DSM's paper, Socialist Democracy, sold out within four days of publication and had to be been reprinted.

(See the text on the DSM's website: www.socialistnigeria.org).

While building the present strike, the DSM argues the need to build a socialist movement capable of forming a workers' and peasants' government. That government should break with capitalism and begin to plan the use of Nigeria's vast resources to serve peoples' needs not private profit.


European Social Forum meeting on Africa

This ESF seminar will include a speaker from the Campaign for Democratic and Workers' Rights in Nigeria.

7-9pm, Saturday 16 October 2004, Congress House, Great Russell Street (Tottenham Court Road Tube)

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In The Socialist 16 October 2004:

A Socialist World Is Possible

PCS Strike Ballot: Vote 'Yes' To Defend Jobs And Services


International socialist news and analysis

Iraq - Withdraw The Troops

'Solid' General Strike in Nigeria Shows Fury At Elite


Pensions

Fight Back Against A Future Of Pension Poverty

A Socialist Guide To The ESF


European Social Forum

The Socialist Party at the ESF:

Did The Anti-War Movement Fail?

CWI - Building Socialism Worldwide

How a socialist economy would work

Workers Must Fight Attacks On Living Standards

Italy - Mass Struggle And The Forces Of The Left

International Socialist Resistance: Get Organised And Fight For Socialism


International socialist news and analysis

The Lessons Of Chile 1970-73

International Workers' Solidarity

US Elections: Putting An Alternative


 

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