Never before in the history of Nigeria have the working masses arisen to fight with one resolve against exploitation and oppression as we did for two weeks last January. The spark of the revolt was the hike in the pump price of petrol from N65 to N141 on New Year day. Within 24hours spontaneous demonstrations had began to spread across the land. The 8-day General Strike which started on January 9 generalised the uprising, grounding the nation’s economy to a halt.
We won a partial victory, with the price of petrol being placed at N97 by the Federal Government. However, millions of Nigerians felt let down. This was not just because full reversal was not won. At the heart of the uprising was the pent up anger against; rising cost of living, worsening inequality, social injustice, homelessness for many, skyrocketing unemployment rates, etc. In short, we of the classes of the oppressed who are poor because of the economic, social and political power of the few elite (bosses and politicians) wanted to emancipate ourselves!
In the past one year, we have seen the elite continue with their self-enrichment, using corruption, amongst other means. We are made to believe that the problem is corruption in the oil sector and in the economy/political arena. But this is only partly true. Corruption is indeed a problem. But the problem is the capitalist system which makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that we cannot wipe out corruption without overthrowing capitalism. This is a general truth, but is particularly so in former colonies like Nigeria where the elite have little base in manufacturing and the government is their main cash cow.
It is important for us to draw the correct lessons from the January Uprising and its aftermath. First, the power to change society lies in the hands of we, the masses. If we mobilise and fight back, reclaiming the streets in our millions WE CAN WIN. Second, the working class is the most decisive force of we, the poor, as a whole. This is due to its strategic place in the economy; workers create the wealth that the bosses appropriate. Organised labour is also the only social group of the masses that unifies millions of workers across all the boundaries of state, ethnicity, religion, etc. Third, revolutionary situations are not “convened” by any group of activists (even though in a comic manner, several “coalitions” have been rushing over themselves to claim credit for “starting” the uprising). Some issue or the other tends to ignite such situations and we enter the masses spontaneously. But, the extent to which we can be victorious depends on the level of our organisation before and during such historic situations.
We have had cause to struggle after our uprising; for the minimum wage in several states, against increase in electricity tariff, against school fee hikes etc. There are many more struggles ahead. We have won partial victories in these. This is welcome, but not enough. We have to liberate ourselves through a revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system. We must tie the reforms we win to this ultimate goal. To do this, we must continue to build our forces. A crucial way to do this is by being active in a revolutionary socialist group, as well as in our trade unions, students unions, community associations, etc.
Together, we educate ourselves on where we are, why we are there and what is to be done. And on the basis of this, we stand as the clearest and most determined fighters in the ranks of the working masses as a whole in the historic confrontation of the immense majority, the working masses, against the handful of bosses and politicians that have made our lives a hell across the world. Socialist Workers League thus invites you to join us in this notable cause which we share.
HANDS OFF FEMI ABORISADE!
Comrade Femi Aborisade, a Senior Lecturer at The Polytechnic Ibadan, who is a leading member of the SocialisT Workers League has been attacked twice within a month in recent times, in his house within the institution. During the first attack he was matcheted by the assailants. This is a worrisome demonstration of the rising insecurity in the land.
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics branch in the school has taken up the matter with the seriousness it deserves. At its emergency Congress on January 8 on the matter, it issued “an ultimatum of two weeks…within which the remote and immediate causes of the threats are investigated, specifically the latest attacks on Com. Aborisade, failure which the Union will take…necessary action”
SWL commends this bold step by ASUP and calls on all trade unions, as well as pro-working people organisations and coalitions to also demand that our oppressors and the attackers they have sent must HANDS OFF FEMI ABORISADE NOW!