Diaspora protest against fuel subsidy removal
Hundreds of Nigerians gathered outside the Nigeria House Embassy in central London on Friday 6 January. They did so to join with their brothers and sisters who, in their country of origin, have moved into struggle against the removal of the government’s fuel subsidy, a move which has pushed the cost of basic necessities beyond the reach of millions.
In a lively protest, organised at short notice by “#OccupyNigeria” campaigners, members of the Nigerian community, including both recent immigrants and life-long Londoners filled the streets with noise, singing “Solidarity forever” along with other chants against the Jonathan government’s latest attack on the poor masses. As workers in Nigeria itself prepare for the beginning of a general strike to force the government back, the mood on the protest was one of confidence that serious struggle could pay off.
Slogans painted on placards denounced the removal of the subsidy, and decried the abuses of the gangster class of looters who pilfer off the country’s rich oil wealth. One placard read, “Nigerians all over the world, say no to crippling IMF policies”. Many protestors linked the attack on the fuel subsidy with the grotesque contradiction between the untold wealth which elites and the multinationals extract from Nigerian soil, and the conditions of the mass of the population who, rather than benefit from the country’s resources, experience worsening poverty and further declining living standards, services and infrastructure.
Members of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) participated in the action, bringing solidarity, and distributing the material produced by the Democratic Socialist Movement, our sister organization in Nigeria. Our DSM leaflet, which called for the building of a mass struggle, democratically controlled and driven by committees of workers and the poor, and linked to a programme for a government of the working masses which could, through democratic public ownership of the country’s resources, begin to resolve people’s fundamental problems, was enthusiastically received by many. At a time when capitalist governments all around the world are deepening their offensive against the poor, international solidarity and unity in struggle are more important than ever.