Nigeria

While promising to meet the unions, the Nigerchin management is trying to use scan labour to break the strike. On recognising the workers’ right to join any union thy wish they have raised the excuse that they must first consult with the owners back in China! These workers are fighting for basic trade union rights. Please support the solidarity campaign and raise this in your union.

Chemical workers at the Nigerian company, NIGERCHIN, have come out on an indefinite strike simply to defend their right to join the trade union of their choice. Trade union activists and members are being victimised because of this. They need your support! Raise this issue among your workmates and friends and get letters of protest sent off.

On top of all its other anti-working class policies, the Obasanjo regime in Nigeria has recently introduced a new pension scheme, which is nothing other than a privatisation of pensions, with investment funds taking over the running of workers' pensions, funds which could collapse easily, and with no government guarantees, leaving future pensioners destitute.

Back in February two Lagos students were killed by police as they protested against the recent hike in school fees. In some cases fees have been increased a hundred times over. This is making it practically impossible for poor and working class Nigerian children to get an education.

In March millions of Nigerian were forced to stay at home for the day as government officials carried out a head and property count. The regime claimed this would allow for a serious calculation of the level of unemployment and thus allow for “job-creation” to go ahead. The operation was inefficient and plagued by corruption. In the real world Nigerians continue to lose their jobs, pensions, education…

Recently Nigeria paid a sum of $12billion to the Paris Club, thus cancelling its foreign debt. The fact that through the servicing of the debt, Nigeria had already paid back more than it has borrowed is conveniently skipped over. Those $12bn could have been used to improve the miserable lives of most Nigerians.

Pensions have been privatised, 92% of Nigerians are living on less than $2 per day, the interest rate stands at 36%, the (official) inflation rate at 15%, millions are either unemployed or not gainfully employed, life expectancy stands at 45 years, annual per capita GDP at $200 and incredible sums of debt hang over the head of the poor. There is no way out on the path of capitalism.

Yesterday attempts to amend the Nigerian Constitution to allow Obasanjo a third term in Office were defeated. Here we publish the latest Editorial of the Workers' Alternative written before the vote.

Everywhere we look in the world the same process is taking place, privatisation, cuts in welfare, cuts in pensions, job losses and so on. In Nigeria this IMF/World Bank-inspired anti-working class programme is being carried out by the Obasanjo regime. But the workers are fighting back. Here we provide a sample of articles from the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers’ Alternative and its programme to combat the regime effectively.

The problem of unrepresentative trade union leadership is a worldwide one. Here we have an example of the corrupt leaders of a steel workers' union in Nigeria. As a result several branches have broken away and joined what they perceive as a more radical union. But the corrupt leaders of the steel workers are still there. It is the whole leadership that needs to be changed!

Venezuela and Nigeria are both oil-rich countries. But in Venezuela we have a genuine attempt at poverty alleviation, which has brought the Bolivarian regime into conflict with imperialism. In Nigeria, where Obasanjo even refuses to acknowledge that poverty exists, the regime has very good relations with imperialism

Thousands of people in Nigeria are driven by hunger to sell their bodies and souls to live; thousands of people, wretched and living in misery and appalling squalor, struggle to earn just enough to keep themselves alive; willing to work and begging for a chance, yet starving, condemned to hunger, dirt and disease. And yet president Obasanjo appearing on TV claims no one goes hungry in Nigeria! In which Nigeria does he live?

LASCO is an umbrella body that has emerged in Nigeria which purports to have a wider representation than the unions themselves. In reality it is a body with no powers and the top union bureaucrats simply hide behind it to defuse the movement whenever it erupts and then they put it to one side once this job is done. It is time to build action committees in all the workplaces, elected by the workers and recallable.

September witnessed an unprecedented wave of protest across the whole of Nigeria, with mass trade union rallies in all the major cities. The spark that set the movement in motion as the latest increase in the price of fuel, but the demands being raised, such as the call for the government to resign, and the mood displayed on the rallies all serve to underline that Nigeria is moving towards a revolutionary upheaval. An editorial statement from the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers’ Alternative.

Millions of people are facing starvation in Niger. Are we to believe that this is another “natural” disaster, as the media would like us to? The fact is that there is food available in the markets of Niger, but the people cannot afford to buy it. Again, profit comes before the lives of the poor.

In spite of being rich in oil Nigeria is in a state of collapse. Healthcare, education, transport, pensions and so on are all coming under attack. Unemployment is growing everywhere. An explosive mood is developing from below, while at the top the political leaders offer nothing but conferences, talk shops and so on. And yet it could be different, very different. It is in the hands of the leadership of the labour movement.

Yesterday there was a gigantic rally of protest in Lagos. The mood of anger simmering below the surface for so long is now erupting onto the streets of the cities and towns of Nigeria. This process marks the beginning of the end of the Obasanjo regime. Nigeria is poised to join the many other countries where the masses have successfully overthrown rotten regimes that are there only to serve the rich.