The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have both issued a joint statement calling for a General Strike action to commence from Tuesday, October 3, 2023, against the rise of the cost of living that the Tinubu regime has inflicted on the working masses following the astronomically rise in the price of petroleum products and its crippling effects on all other goods and services in the country.

This call for a strike is a consequence of the fact that both central unions have drawn the obvious fact that the Tinubu regime remains unwilling to embark on any reversal of anti-people policy, even though it is obvious to all discerning minds that the neoliberal policies of “free market” or so called “market forces” are not having the intended effect of reviving the economy and improving the fortunes of the working masses, rather things are getting worse. The working masses are as good as thrown under the crushing wheel of a trailer and gasping desperately for breath.

The Tinubu regime refuses to take a glance at the close to 40 years run of these same neoliberal policies of deregulation and privatisation by previous regimes before it, with the same scorecard of utter failure and worsening of the living condition of the working masses, while only a select few are enriched and are growing fatter. 

Nor is government willing to take concrete steps to implement measures that will cushion the pains it has inflicted on the working masses. The so-called palliatives have not trickled down to the working masses; at best, they have only served to line the pockets of contractors and public officials, for whom it is nothing more than additional loots or, better still, funds with which to service and buy the loyalty of a tiny circle of a few. The TUC initially sought to continue negotiation with the government, while the NLC observed a two-day warning strike. They have now both concluded that the Tinubu regime continues to “grandstand and forestall all avenues to peaceful dialogue with organised labour”. According to Festus Usifo, the TUC president, labour “have exhausted all our arsenals, and that the final thing to be done is the strike”.

The unity of the working class is imperative; the Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA) welcomes and supports the strike in full totality and calls on the working masses all over to rise and take all of the necessary steps and actions to make this strike a success. By the strike action, the unions have, therefore, summoned the working masses to come all out to voice their displeasure. This is not a sit-at-home action.

Workers must test out their organising ability and, through effective strike action, put forward all their demands on the government that must include a new living minimum wage for workers to match the rate of inflation of not less than N100 000, given the fact wages have been increased to a tune of 114% for elected and appointed public and judicial officials. For the building of new refineries from the wealth of the country as opposed to waiting for Dangote Refinery. For the democratic rights of the workers to organise in their unions, without any interference by the state or the use of the police to attack trade unionist. And as well as the reversal of school fee hikes in tertiary institutions for adequate public education funding.

At the same time, the MSA calls for a Joint Strike Action Committee across all of the unions to be set up from the factory/workplaces to streets and community level in all the local 774 governments to the states and on to a central national organ to serves as a Parliament of the Working Masses all through the period of the strike that will coordinate all activities during the period of strike and as well as review the strike and decide the what new steps and even as well as whether to call it off to resume negotiation or when to resume the strike action next, if the demands are not fully met.

If any lesson is to be learnt by the working masses from all of the above, it is the fact that Tinubu has helped point out, like previous regimes, both military and civilian, that capitalism cannot in any way be managed to serve the interest of the working masses. Capitalism is auto-programmed to serve only the interest of the rich and super-rich, to constantly feed the greed for profit of the tiny numbers of the members of the billionaire club to be further enriched by inflicting a death agony state on the working masses. It is capitalism, which the Tinubu regime and the entire crop of the ruling class are unwilling to break away from, that is responsible for this crisis. The country on its own is rich enough to meet all of the needs and aspirations of the working masses if managed on a Socialist basis to meeting the needs of the working masses first as opposed to the greed for profit by the capitalists.

It follows, therefore, that the question of political power cannot be ignored by the working masses. The need of the working masses to organise themselves politically independently of the ruling class and their various bourgeois political parties.

Indeed, this point is long known to the labour leaders who piloted the registration of the Labour Party in 2002. But as the 2023 General elections demonstrated, the LP is currently on the same trajectory as all major parties like the APC and PDP the with its subscription to the same anti-people neo-liberal capitalism, which raises the question of either effecting a Reclaim of the Labour Party or commence the formation of new Working People Party to serve as the political organ of the working masses specifically.

It is with such a party that the working masses can rightly commence their struggle not only against the Tinubu regime and the ruling class but directly against capitalism itself. Defeat it and replace it with a Socialist Alternative programme that will nationalise the commanding height of the economy under the democratic control and management of the working people’s government.

*Joint Strike Action Committee to serve as a Parliament of the working Masses to coordinate the strike.

* No sit-at-strike for workers, youth and students to organise mass actions and seize the street.

* For the building of new refineries and bringing the whole of the oil and gas sector under public ownership and democratic control and management of workers. 

* For the reversal of school fee hikes in tertiary institutions and for adequate public education funding.

*For new minimum living wage of not less than N100, 000 to march the rate of inflation.

* Reclaim the LABOUR Party Now or for new Working People PARTY on Socialist Alternative programme to overthrow capitalism.

* Nationalise the commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control and management of the working people’s government 

Aj. Dagga Tolar (Secretary General of the Movement for a Socialist Aternative)