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After the General Strike
BETWEEN 11 and 14 October, for the third time this year, the overwhelming majority of Nigerians showed their opposition to the continual rise in fuel prices in a totally effective four-day general strike. Officially it has been suspended for 14 days and will resume if the fuel price doesn't go down.
The stoppage, effectively the sixth since June 2000, was called as part of the campaign to reverse the 25% rise in fuel prices imposed at the end of September.
Most Nigerians do not see why higher world prices mean they, an oil exporting country, have to pay more for fuel; indeed a popular demand is that the price windfall is used for the masses and not stolen by the elite.
This latest increase was implemented less than 48 hours after the Federal High Court ruled that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC - Nigeria's main trade union federation) was not entitled to call any further general strikes.
But this ruling had no affect whatsoever on the strike. Indeed most Nigerians were incensed at the blatant manoeuvring of the Obasanjo government to first get a legal ruling and then ram though another fuel price rise.
However, there were attempts by the police to act against strikers, but this did not affect the strike's success. In Lagos police harassed union officials and on one occasion stood by while an armed group attacked strike activists.
But far more seriously in the northern city of Kaduna police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy during a protest and, as we go to press, at least 16 bodies have been exhumed from a graveyard. Local residents claim they were strikers arrested by the police, while the authorities say they were armed robbers shot while trying to escape.
If it proves to be the case that the police murdered strikers then this will require an immediate decisive response from the entire labour movement in Kaduna and throughout the country.
THE DEMOCRATIC Socialist movement (DSM - the Nigerian section of the CWI), played an important part in the strike in the mobilisation on the ground; arguing for socialist policies and participating in both the national discussions on what should be done and also in part of labour's negotiations with Nigeria's rulers.
Now the DSM is calling for a wide ranging mobilisation to prepare the next round in the battle. At the same time the DSM demands a full debate within the Labour Civil Society Coalition (LASCO - the joint body formed by the NLC with radical political, social and community organisations) on how to bring down the Obasanjo government and the need to replace it with a workers' and peasants government that could break the chains of imperialism and capitalism.
This would allow Nigeria's huge resources to be used in the interests of the masses and not the local and international elites.
In The Socialist 23 October 2004:
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party features
International socialist news and analysis