This is a report from a Workers’ Alternative activist who visited Maiduguri twice some weeks ago and stayed there for two weeks cumulatively in collaboration with a working class activist on the ground in Maiduguri . The report gives a true insight into state of things in this hot zone.
After a rather long rough journey; journey full of resistance and high determination from those privatizing and the workers who are to bear the brunt, power sector in Nigeria finally got privatized on the 1st of November, 2013. Decades of suffering by Nigerians, who cannot understand why this country still finds it so difficult to generate enough power to power its economy and make life meaningful for its citizens has actually made Nigerians become so desperate to get out of this anomaly.
The congress of the Nigerian section of the IMT was held on October 19-20, with a total of 20 comrades participating from different parts of the country. The presence of comrades from the north was a source of excitement and enthusiasm for all those present.
What are the origins of Boko Haram? Poverty and lack of education? Absolutely not. Because some parts of the South are not any better off and yet there is nothing like Boko Haram in those areas.
There are militants and ethnic militias everywhere in the country but nothing close to the dramatic violence and barbarism of Boko Haram; from suicide bombings, to assassinations of clergy, bombings of churches full of worshipers, motor parks, media houses and the burning of schools and other infrastructure.
State of Emergency: intensification of an attack on already terrorized masses
Conspicuously missing in President Goodluck Jonathan’s speech of Tuesday 14th May, 2013 where he declared an indefinite state of emergency in three Northeast States of Nigeria, is the fact that he had earlier already declared states of emergency in two of the present three states since December 31 2011. The states of emergency in these states, Borno, Yobe, Plateau and Niger are yet to be called off.
The most important question is if the earlier declared emergency rule had not worked, what will make this one work, as the conditions remain the same.
The first victims of the on going privatization of electricity in Nigeria are the ordinary consuming masses who have found their electricity bills go up multiple folds. Today, scores are incurring huge electricity bills as PHCN tariffs have continued to go up and leaving huge dent in the pockets of toiling masses.
Increment in tariffs and outright deregulation are part of the consequences of move towards the privatization of PHCN. The argument of the government is that price increment and total deregulation of electricity tariff would attract the “foreign investors”.
No doubt, Fashola government in Lagos state means different things to different people. To the elite, who wish to drive his car without hindrance through a well-flowered road, a road that is devoid of poor children hawking the streets, with beggars completely packed off the visible arena of passage; to him, Fashola is a hero. It is a different case to a poor woman who had lived all her life selling in one corner of the road, a condition forced down her throat by immense poverty, with her children hawking all over Lagos at the risk of being arrested by the police or even be crushed by moving vehicles. These children suppose to be in school, but public education has completely collapsed and becoming increasingly expensive. When she is ill she has to go to native doctor because public health is dead; a small apartment she stays will either soon be pulled down or is already demolished in the interest of Mega city project; to her, Lagos has never been so hellish as it is now. Of the estimated 18 million Lagosians, 11.55 million (64.2%) are living below poverty level; the question is, under genuine democracy who really own Lagos?
To say that the situation in Nigeria is getting more rotten by the day is an understatement. The country has become notorious as far as the world’s negatives are concerned. Many are barely managing to survive on a dollar a day, unemployment is massive, wages are very low, scores are rendered homeless daily, flood is ravaging everywhere, artificial fuel scarcity and arbitrary price increments are the order of the day. Healthcare has collapsed the same as power supply, which remains highly unstable.
The government seems to have ‘Midas touch’: anything they touch turns to shit! Daily, the airwaves are dominated by reports of insane IMF/World Bank inspired government policies, which only results in more pains for the masses.
Editorial Statement, Workers’ Alternative, Nigeria
The landslide victory of Comrade Adams Oshiomole [the former leader of the Nigerian Labour Congress] in the Edo State Governorship election on Saturday, 14th July 2012 marks a major watershed in the history of politics in Nigeria.
This was not only because it was contested by Adams, winner for two consecutive years of the man-of-the-year award during the long drawn out battle of the Nigerian workers against the Obasanjo administration’s series of attacks on the Nigerian masses; not only because it was a landslide victory in which Oshiomhole received over 75%(477,478 of 630,067) of the votes to beat the ruling conservative party PDP that got only 22.8%(144,235), despite a massive deployment of all their strength and wealth; but also because it exposed the uselessness and ineffectiveness of political “Godfatherism” [meaning that political God fathers is all you need to win elections] once the masses are involved in the equation.
Every year, an extremely dry dusty wind blows from the Sahara toward the western coast of Africa, mostly between the months of November and March, and usually most intense in December and January. It’s called the harmattan. And this is its season. From east to west, north and south an intense wind is sweeping across Nigeria.
On the first day of the indefinite General Strike declared by the Nigerian Labour Congress [NLC] and Trade Union Congress [TUC], a human tide swept down major roads of every Nigerian city, fed continuously along its path. The tide swept away the innate conservatism in the thought process and consciousness of the masses. People poured forth from adjoining streets into the arena of history, armed with slogans and indignation to seek control of their destiny. There were talks about Tunisia, Egypt, Tahrir Square. There were talks about the need for change. The next day, day two, was no different. Well, except that the crowd more than doubled the previous day’s, and was still growing! Day three also recorded a higher crowd than Day one and two! And was still growing!
History was made today, 9th January 2012, as Lagosians in their thousands harkened to the call of the Labour and Civil Society Organisation (LASCO) to embark on a nationwide strike/mass protest toexpress their dissatisfaction with the recent increment in the pump price of petrol as announced by the Goodluck Jonathan-led government on 1st of January. LASCO encompasses the two labour centers in Nigeria i.e. the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as the Joint Action Front (JAF) which is the umbrella body of the pro-labour civil society organisations.
We condemn the Goodluck regime’s sponsored invasion of the National Secretariat of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, in Abuja by thugs and the police on Friday, 7/1/12. This confirms the desperation of the government and shows how low they can go towards maintaining the attacks on the lives of the Nigerian people and how desperate they are to maintain the current fuel price increment. Already this action is being condemned globally.
The thugs stormed the NLC office in the morning under the protection of soldiers and police officers.
Support the Struggle against the Under funding of Education
By the time the current strike of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, commenced on December 5 2011, it had been two long years after they had an agreement with the Federal Government. That was in 2009. The 2009 Agreement is actually a review of the 2001 Agreement.
Earlier in September, ASUU had embarked on a one-week warning strike and the union shifted lots of grounds by extending the period for dialogue with the hope that the federal government would be sincere.
Currently, major attacks have been launched by the Goodluck regime against PHCN workers. Soldiers have taken over all the power stations, transmission stations and major PHCN offices nationwide and leaders of the power sector unions were arrested for some days and are all on the watch list. The plan is to ‘wind down’ PHCN by the first quarter of 2012.
PHCN workers had embarked on a 2-day strike to protest these assaults, it was this that forced the government to release the union officers but the armed take over and other atrocities are still continuing.
No to deregulation!
Nothing can testify to man’s bestiality towards fellow man as the current attempt by the Goodluck Jonathan’s regime attempt to further increase the price of petrol. Nothing is as wicked as this program and it has fully exposed the true face of the regime to the overwhelming majority.
Coming at a time when the overwhelming majority are living in abject poverty with no hope in sight, large numbers are living on less than $2.00 a day. This will no doubt be a death blow to many in Nigeria.
Since the LASU authorities declared in October the draconian increment in school fees, LASU students have embarked on a heroic struggle against this grand assault on education. They have not only boycotted lectures they have embarked on exam boycott and mass protests.
The over 725% fee increment was authorized by the Fasola led ACN government in Lagos. The fees were quite outrageous to say the least and it exposed the true nature of the ACN for what it really is – an anti-people party making pretension to be ‘progressive’.
Obviously, there was an earlier agreement between a dominant section of Nigeria ruling class, Nigeria media and the Imperialists, that no matter what the actual outcome of this election is, it must be adjudged the fairest and freest election in the history of Nigeria. This agreement was strictly adhered to by all the parties concerned. Public opinion is moulded along this line, even where malpractices were very obvious, the media and International communities just looked the other way.
Nigerian workers joined their brothers and sisters throughout the world to celebrate Workers’ Day on May 1st. In Lagos State, the celebration was held at Onikan Stadium. Workers trooped into the stadium en masse to mark the day. However, they had a surprise coming, with the newly elected State Governor giving them a lecture about how increases in workers’ wages cause inflation!
The political drama that unfolded with the April 2011 general elections turned out to be all revealing about the real nature and the deceit of the various sections of the Nigerian ruling class; and more obvious was the lack of genuine political alternative to the present rot in society, which a number of critical voters unconsciously sought during the elections.
In truth, the elections were mainly contested by the different sections of the ruling capitalist class in Nigeria, which have their individual pecuniary interests but who nevertheless, in the last analysis, are all committed to maintaining the present status quo that tilts property relations against the mass of workers and ordinary Nigerians.
The Nigeria Capital City of Abuja has probably never witnessed a traffic jam the magnitude of which occurred on the 15th of October 2010. At the Federal Secretariat Complex and the office of the Head of Service of the Federation, most of the offices remained empty as most civil servants have returned to their homes because of the mammoth congestion.
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