Nigeria: “Labour’s most successful national strike”

General strike enters third day

Today, (June 22) Nigeria’s general strike entered its third day. Already it is described as "Labour’s most successful national strike" (Daily Independent, Lagos). The entire country has come to a halt. In essence, the Nigerian government seems to have adopted the strategy of simply attempting to sit the strike out and wait for shortages of food, water, fuel and money to lead to a drift back to work. But, in some areas the government is starting to use repression. On 21 June, police arrested, and held for a few hours, over 50 labour leaders in Enugu state, while there were calshes in Gombe, Oyo and Kano states.

In this situation, the key issue is what are the next steps labour must take to seize the initiative and lead this struggle to a successful conclusion? Today, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM – CWI in Nigeria), issued the following Bulletin, which will be widely distributed, looking at these issues.

"Labour’s most successful national strike"

Ongoing successful strike
Labour must fight for total social transformation

The resounding success of the ongoing general strike and mass protest against the hike in fuel prices and the hike in VAT, show just how little support the new government has. Despite the very small size of the May 28 and 29 protests [against the new government, which came to power after huge ballot rigging] Yar’Adua’s administration has no legitimacy. Its so-called election victory was really a well planned out fraud, starting last year, with the Voters’ Register, that continued up to April’s so-called elections and counting of votes.

So far, the strike has been very solid. But this is not a guarantee of victory. Between 2000 and 2005 there were seven general strikes or mass protests that, while being fully supported, did not lead to the working masses’ demands being met and where they are met, the effects of the gains were short-lived.

Therefore, decisive action must be taken to secure total victory for the strike’s demands this time around. In addition, we must avoid a repetition of a situation where a small group of labour leaders will end the struggle in return for nothing or for small concessions that will be undermined almost immediately.

Therefore, working people need to be in control of their struggle, at all times. Activists in workplaces and communities must take immediate steps to hold assemblies that can democratically form Action Committees, based upon delegates from workplaces and communities, which should discuss both the development of the struggle and what steps need to be taken locally and nationally.

These Action Committees need to link up regionally and nationally. The DSM (Democratic Socialist Movement) believes that the decision about the strike cannot be left in the hands of a few national leaders. Within the trade unions, local branches should be meeting to discuss what is happening, and, nationally, decisions should be taken by the most representative body that can meet. Immediately, in the next few days, decisions on the strike’s progress should be democratically made by LASCO, but Action Committees need to become the bodies that run the strike.

The longer the strike continues the more urgent it is that steps are taken to ensure that basic essential supplies, especially food, water and fuel, are available, at reasonable prices to the masses. Immediate measures have to be taken to ensure supplies are fairly distributed. Action Committees, in co-ordination with other popular bodies, must co-ordinate this. Steps must be taken to prevent profiteering.

Steps must be taken to appeal to the ranks of the police and armed forces to support this struggle, as they are affected by the price rises and their pay should also rise.

Labour’s potential

This strike has once again shown the tremendous power of working people once they decide to act. Labour has the strength to stop Nigeria, and it is time that Labour chases away the looters and thieves, like Yar’Adua, and all the corrupt PDP, ANPP, AC leaders [of pro-capitalist parties], starts to run the country in interests of working people and the poor.

This means replacing this unrepresentative government of looters and thieves by a Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG), made up of elected representatives of workers, technocrats, and poor peasants and youths to form government at national and state levels. Immediate steps must be taken to establish workers’ and popular control over Nigeria’s resources, to stop looting [of Nigeria’s resources] and to ensure they are used in the masses’ interests.

Such a government could take immediate action against the [rich elite] looters and start to improve the masses’ living standards in both urban and rural areas.

For us in the DSM, this proposal is democratic. The workers, technocrats, poor peasants and youth formations are there already and Action Committees can involve wider numbers of working people. These bodies should elect among themselves those who will provisionally run the affairs of the country. Such bodies should organize truly democratic elections to a national body, i.e. a national meeting of the Action Committees or a Sovereign National Conference, dominated by the ordinary working masses in all fields of life that would confirm the assumption of power by a workers’ and poor peasants’ government.

If this does not happen Nigeria faces a further decline into greater poverty and brutality.

Imperative of social transformation

As always, the DSM (Democratic Socialist Movement) is fully committed to the total realisation of all the goals of the current struggle. Our members have been involved in the preparation and organisation of the current struggle, up till this moment. However, we will continue to drive home the point that unless the current self-serving, unjust capitalist system is replaced with a workers and poor peasants’ government, where the commanding heights of the economy, including banks and financial institutions, are commonly owned and democratically run by the working people themselves, primarily for the purpose of meeting the economic and political needs of the working masses and the poor, in general, any gain(s) made from the current struggle will, sooner than later, be claimed back by the greedy capitalist ruling elite, ten fold.

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