Article from the Nov 2004 edition, the Socialist

Nigeria: All out general strike

THE NIGERIAN masses are once again preparing to demonstrate their massive anger against their government and the giant oil company Shell with an indefinite general strike planned for 16 November.

by Ashling Golden

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) have called on workers to protest against rising fuel prices, President Obasanjo's economic reforms and Shell's planned job cuts. Shell have gone to the courts to try and stop the strikes.

Nigerians have almost lost count of the number of times the price of oil has increased in the life of this current government, the last increase being 25% in October. These fuel price increases have had a major impact on living standards, resulting in an increase in transport costs, food prices and electricity. The mass of people can't fathom why the price of oil produced in their own country is rising so rapidly when the cost of producing the oil has remained the same.

The Nigerian government has been enforcing these price increases and doing the dirty work of multinationals like Shell, despite the huge profits being made by both the government and the multinationals due to the increase in oil prices on international markets. In 2004, the government will make an extra $4.7billion from oil sales whilst at the same time having a foreign reserve of $13billion. Instead of using this money to alleviate the massive problems of poverty and deprivation, the government are up to their necks in corruption and trying to squeeze even more money out of the poor.

Segun Sango, the General Secretary of Democratic Socialist Movement, (the CWI section in Nigeria) spoke at a mass demonstration in Lagos called to mobilise support for the general strike. Segun Sango attacked the IMF/World Bank induced anti-poor, pro-rich, neo-liberal policies of the Obasanjo-led capitalist government and demanded a halt. He urged the masses and the working people of Nigeria to fight for an immediate end to the Obasanjo government as well as all aspects of its anti-working class agenda. This demand was enthusiastically received by the people at the rally despite the menacing presence of armed police.

Segun also spoke about what the DSM is fighting for "Our ultimate goal is to help build a powerful pan-Nigeria working masses movement that is strong enough to take political power from the hands of the self-serving capitalist elements and in its place create a workers' and peasants' government committed to the implementation of pro-masses and working class policies."

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