Nigeria: General strike begins

Midnight, January 21, is set for the start of an unlimited general strike in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called this strike in protest at President Obasanjo’s attempt to suddenly impose a Fuel Tax. The action is also against the government’s non-implementation of the deal, made last October, that led to a previous general strike being called off just a few hours before it was due to begin.

Obasanjo’s fuel tax provoked enormous anger. Workers were very bitter at the regime’s cynical breaking of its promise in October to hold the price of fuel at 34 naira (about 25 US cents) a litre.

This is the third time in seven months that the issue of increased fuel prices has led to a mobilisation for a general strike. Last July, Nigeria saw its best ever supported general strike, which lasted eight days. However, last October’s last minute suspension of a strike, in return for ‘concessions’ that were never implemented, has led to questioning among workers about how seriously the NLC leaders will pursue this new struggle.

Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM – CWI in Nigeria) are fully involved in the mobilisation for a general strike, in individual trade unions, the National Conscience Party (NCP), student organisations, and the Labour-Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) that was formed last year. The DSM general secretary, Segun Sango, was a guest speaker at the meeting NLC’s Central Working Committee that made final preparations for the strike.

The DSM argues that a determined struggle has to be waged not only over fuel prices but against the undemocratic, pro-imperialist presidency of Obasanjo. This requires the Labour Movement fighting for a workers’ and poor peasants’ government that can begin to implement a socialist way out of Nigeria’s crisis.

For up to date details visit the DSM website

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January 2004