Protesters in Nigeria during a previous struggle. Photo: OludeleAdewalePhotography/CC
Protesters in Nigeria during a previous struggle. Photo: OludeleAdewalePhotography/CC

On 16 November, 24 hours into a nationwide general strike, the leaders of Nigeria’s two trade union federations (NLC and TUC) suspended the action without any of its demands being met. The following article was published online on 15 November by Democratic Socialist Movement, the Socialist Party’s sister organisation in Nigeria. This is an edited extract, the article can be read in full online at

Peluola Adewale, Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) wholeheartedly welcomed the decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to escalate strike action, over the anti-labour policies and state-sponsored act of terror of the Imo state government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma, into a full-scale nationwide general strike starting on 15 November, in defiance of a fraudulent order of the national industrial court.

The escalation became inevitable due to the continuous refusal of the Imo state government and the federal government to reverse the series of anti-worker policies and actions, including the brutalisation of the NLC president in a state-sponsored act of terror on 1 November, withholding of workers’ outstanding salary arrears, and non-compliance with the minimum wage act.

We call for the setting up of democratic action committees at workplaces to enforce the strike and ensure more active participation and compliance. Evidence from the first day of the strike showed that compliance was scanty, obviously due to poor preparation. Public activities like mass meetings, protests and demonstrations should be organised both to strengthen the strike and mobilise wider support.

As the NLC itself noted in its statement, “inflation moved from 19% to 29% in the first five months of this government!” This means the NLC and TUC leaderships know a huge proportion of their members are suffering.

In fact, all of the anti-worker issues exist in almost all states across the federation. There is hardly any state where workers and retirees are not owed a backlog of several months of salaries and pensions. There is hardly any state where check-off dues and cooperative deductions are not being withheld, and there are many states, apart from Imo state, where the N30,000 minimum wage remains unimplemented.

For instance, over the past few months, Oyo state workers have been organising and protesting over similar issues. This is aside from the fact that the neoliberal and anti-poor policies of the Tinubu administration since 29 May have plunged the working and toiling people into new levels of poverty and destitution. Due to increases in fuel prices and transport fares, as a result of fuel subsidy removal, many workers now trek to work while many only come to work a few days in a week.

In this condition of nationwide mass misery, the labour leadership would continue to miss an opportunity to win real improvement for their members by limiting the demands of the general strike to the issue of Imo state workers alone. This is why we, in the DSM, call on the NLC and TUC to broaden the demands of the general strike to include the following:

  • Reversal of pump price of petrol to N195 per litre
  • Arrest and speedy trial of all subsidy thieves and seizure of their ill-gotten wealth
  • N200,000 national minimum wage to be regularly increased in accordance with the rate of inflation
  • Immediate crash programme to repair old refineries and build new ones
  • Petrol from Dangote refinery, when it starts operating, to conform to a price cap of N195 per litre otherwise it should be nationalised under workers’ control and management
  • Reversal of all hiked school fees. No to student loan. For adequate funding of public education and healthcare
  • No hike in electricity tariff
  • Rejection of neoliberal capitalist policies – deregulation, devaluation, privatisation, commercialisation of social services, etc
  • Immediate meeting of the demands of academic staff, non-academic staff, doctors and all medical personnel
  • Release of all political prisoners including #EndSars protesters and an end to attacks on democratic rights
  • Reduction in the salaries of political office holders and their placement on the minimum wage

The DSM has always argued that the experience of the working masses themselves amply demonstrates that no real or long-lasting relief can be won for the working people under capitalism. This is why for struggle to win real victories, labour and workers need to adopt a clear and bold pro-working people philosophy and programme that synchronise with the genuine aspirations of the working people and the objective basis of their existence and struggle.

This in our view is no other than a scientific socialist programme which links demands on the day-to-day issues facing the working people with a programme for the nationalisation of the key sectors of the Nigerian economy such as oil and gas, banks, big industries and mines under workers’ democratic control and management, in order to ensure that society’s wealth, currently trapped in the hands of a few, is made available to make life better for the mass majority.

This also underscores the need for the labour movement to initiate the building of a genuine mass working people’s party with a revolutionary programme and method to wrest power from the thieving, backward capitalist ruling class and form a workers’ and poor people’s government with a socialist programme. Such a government will ensure the human and material resources of the country are used on the basis of socialist planning for the benefit of the vast majority and the genuine development of society.