Nigeria

The present Yar'Adua administration in Nigeria elaborated a so-called "Seven Point Agenda" as it came into office. None of its goals have been achieved and will not be achieved on the basis of the present capitalist economic set up.

The crisis in Nigeria is affecting all layers of society. Significantly the Lagos doctors have taken a decision to embark on militant strike action for better wages, but also better and cleaner working conditions.

Just a few months ago all the talk was of Nigeria avoiding the effects of the world crisis of capitalism, the idea being that the local economy was not as integrated into the world financial markets as the more advanced economies. Then suddenly things started to change...

A major teachers' strike has broken out in Nigeria over the question of a Teachers' Salary Scale. What is significant is that 88% of the population is backing the strike. This fact alone reveals the real feelings of the Nigerian working class and poor masses. It reveals the potential for a much wider movement involving the whole of the working class.

Nigeria, like all countries, is being affected by the sharp increase in food prices. Now the government, floating on the huge amounts of petrodollars coming into the country, has ordered 500,000 tons of rice to flood the Nigerian market in an attempt to get the price down. But will this solve the problem?

In spite of the bulk of the population being employed in agriculture, the main source of revenue for the Nigerian state is the export of oil. At the moment a lot of money is coming in, and yet poverty and income inequality have never been so high. When the US recession finally hits Nigeria it will have a tremendous impact on the political life of the country.

According to official figures Nigeria is booming, thanks mainly to the sky-high price of oil. And yet poverty levels are increasing and the gap between rich and poor has never been so high. There is a lot of talk of boom, but more and more people are literally becoming hungry, some on the verge of starvation.

May Day in Nigeria this year came after a series of rotten deals between the trade union leaders and the bosses in many companies. That explains why the turn-out was not as high as in previous years. In spite of this, the union leaders came under such pressure that they have been forced to call a day of action for May 8.

Last year's elections in Nigeria saw fraud on a scale never seen before. This has severely undermined the authority of the government in the eyes of the masses, so much so that the judiciary are now overturning some of the results. This has led to illusions that the judiciary is now a friend of democracy and even "revolutionary". Nothing could be further from the truth.

This article, written this summer, highlights the material and human devastation provoked by the oil barons in Nigeria. They have sucked out billions of dollars from the Niger Delta region without any benefit accruing to the poor masses that inhabit the regions. That explains the violence and constant conflict. It is an utter condemnation of the Nigerian bourgeoisie that is totally incapable of solving any of the pressing problems facing the masses.

Once again, just as the general strike was starting to have an effect, the leaders of the Nigerian trade unions called it off. The regime was on its knees, but it has survived thanks to the unwillingness of the trade union leaders to go all the way. It highlights the need for a genuine fighting leadership. The Marxists can play an important role in building this.

The contradictions and tensions in Nigerian society have exploded and the class struggle is back firmly on the agenda. Nationwide strike action has been called to battle government proposals to raise petrol prices, increase the VAT, and sell two state-owned refineries. After two days of solid support for the strike, the struggle continues.

Less than a month ago the present government of Nigeria was brought into office on the basis of blatant and massive fraud in the elections. We predicted it would be a weak regime with no real base in society. Faced with a general strike this regime has already been forced to make concessions. But it is only playing for time.

The recent elections in Nigeria were blatantly rigged, but the nature of the official opposition – as corrupt as the clique in power – means the masses have no clear point of reference to rally round. In this situation the responsibility of the leaders of the labour movement is enormous. If they gave a lead the masses would rally behind them and it would mean the end of this regime and the beginning of the struggle for socialism.

For the first time in years there was one joint Mayday rally in Nigeria of all the trade unions. The Marxists intervened successfully in spite of attempts by the police to stop the distribution of material. Meanwhile the petit bourgeois left are once again making the same mistakes as in the past by mouthing the same slogans as the bourgeois “opposition”.

The recent elections in Nigeria were blatantly rigged. The problem is that the official bourgeois oppositions is incapable of doing anything about it. That is because they serve the same interests. It is up to the working class to build its own party through the trade unions and offer a genuine socialist way out of the present crisis.

The Nigerian authorities are attempting to crush all independent student union representation. At the OAU campus the students are valiantly defending their right to organise but have been met with a brutal response. Please add your name to the protest.

The Obasanjo regime in Nigeria boasts about its economic achievements, but it is only fooling itself. The real situation is that polarisation between the classes, with extreme wealth for the few and intense poverty for the many, has never been so great.

A Labour Party has been launched in Nigeria and is standing candidates in the forthcoming elections. Unfortunately it is dominated by bourgeois politicians, in many cases people who have abandoned the rotten ship of the discredited parties that make up the present set up. That may explain why so few workers have joined it so far.