Not long after I joined the socialist movement as a student at the Polytechnic of Ibadan in 1980, I was introduced to Marxist literature at the Progressive and Socialist Bookshop which was the sole depot of many left-wing publishers from UK, USSR and China that included Zed Books. By the time I entered university as a mature student, I had already worked as a full-time revolutionary assisting Ola Oni, a foremost Marxist revolutionary and scholar at the University of Ibadan where he lectured. He also owned the bookshop. My generation were inspired by the history of Russia, the only country that achieved a successful socialist revolution in October 1917.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous state and is listed as having the largest economy on the continent with huge deposits of oil, natural gas and other strategic resources. In possession of these material assets along with the 223 million people that inhabit the West African state, the achievements of Nigeria should be limitless. However, the system of neo-colonialism in Africa, where the national wealth of various states largely benefits imperialism, is still maintaining a dominant position over the labor and resources of the people. This system of exploitation constitutes the major impediment to genuine sovereignty, economic independence and social emancipation.
The coup in the West African state of Niger on July 26 and the Russia-Africa Summit the next day in St. Petersburg are playing out in the backdrop of multipolarity in the world order. Seemingly independent events, they capture nonetheless the zeitgeist of our transformative era. First, the big picture — the Africa summit hosted by Russia on July 27-28 poses a big challenge to the West, which instinctively sought to downplay the event after having failed to lobby against sovereign African nations meeting the Russian leadership. Forty-nine African countries sent their delegations to St. Petersburg, with 17 heads of states traveling in person to Russia to discuss political, humanitarian and economic issues.
Following the military takeover of power in Niger from the Bazoum-led administration on July 26, concerns have been raised about the supply of uranium as the EU and especially France depend largely on uranium from the country to fuel their nuclear reactors and for medical purposes. Data from Euratom indicates that Niger was the EU’s second largest supplier of uranium in 2022, when it alone supplied the EU with 2,975 tU (representing 25.4%). The landlocked country was followed by Canada which supplied 2,578 tU (22.0%), and Russia which supplied 1,980 tU (16.9%) that same year.
The regional bloc, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has drawn up a plan for a military invasion of Niger to restore the ousted Mohamed Bazoum to presidency. However, in Nigeria, whose president Bola Tinubu is the current chair of ECOWAS, the Senate has refused to support the military intervention. On Saturday, August 5, at a closed-door executive session to deliberate on Tinubu’s letter seeking the Senate’s support for “military buildup and deployment of personnel for military intervention,” “almost all senators… totally ruled out the military options,” an unnamed senator told Premium Times.
Last week’s military coup in Niger could be a game-changer in the New Cold War if the junta cuts off the uranium exports upon which France’s nuclear energy industry depends, kicks out its former colonizer’s troops from their last regional bastion, and/or requests Russia’s “Democratic Security” assistance. Unlike the patriotic military coups in Guinea, Mali, and Burkina Faso, which were condemned by the West but not considered a threat to its neocolonial stranglehold over Africa, the one in Niger is ringing alarm bells. France and the US strongly condemned this latest regime change, with the first suspending all aid in parallel with the EU while the latter is preparing to follow suit.
Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu met union leaders on the first day of a nationwide strike called by unions to protest against a fuel subsidy removal that has led to higher pump price of petrol, the head of the main labour federation has said. Since being sworn into office on May 29, President Tinubu has embarked on a series of economic reforms, scrapping the popular but expensive subsidy, which cost $10bn last year, and relaxing the foreign exchange regime. While the reforms have been welcomed by investors, unions say they have led to soaring costs at a time when Nigerians are already grappling with the highest inflation in nearly two decades.
Reaction to the coup in Niger is a litmus test which determines who is truly supportive of self-determination for African nations. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is urging Nigeria to invade neighboring Niger, which is just what the U.S. and France would like to see happen. But the leaders of Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali are standing firm and demanding that the people of Niger, who appear to be supportive of the military involvement in their country, resolve their own conflict without the intervention of imperialist western nations. The leaders of Mali and Burkina Faso announced a joint statement, and were joined by the president of Guinea in upholding sovereignty and Pan-African unity.
Nigeria - Last week, in his inauguration speech, the new Nigerian President Bola Tinubu announced that the widely-supported fuel subsidy would be removed. The Nigeria Labour Congress responded immediately, writing: We at the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are outraged by the pronouncement of President Bola Tinubu removing the “fuel subsidy’ without due consultations with critical stake holders or without putting in place palliative measures to cushion the harsh effects of the ‘subsidy removal’. The President's announcement sparked a rush on fuel purchases resulting in long lines at fuel stations. Al Jazeera reports that the removal of the subsidy will double or triple the price of gasoline in the nation where 133 million people live in poverty.
We at the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are outraged by the pronouncement of President Bola Tinubu removing the "fuel subsidy' without due consultations with critical stake holders or without putting in place palliative measures to cushion the harsh effects of the ‘subsidy removal’. Within hours of his pronouncement, the nation went into a tailspin due to a combination of service shut downs and product price hike, in some places representing over 300 per cent price adjustment. By his insensitive decision, President Tinubu on his inauguration day brought tears and sorrow to millions of Nigerians instead of hope. He equally devalued the quality of their lives by over 300 per cent and counting.
On Friday, March 3, the Court of Appeal in Nigeria’s capital Abuja ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow the presidential candidate of the Labor Party (LP), Peter Obi, access to all poll materials for inspection. Bola Tinubu, candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has been declared the winner of the presidential election that was held on February 25. The order was passed in response to an appeal filed by Obi on Thursday. Access was also granted to Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who had also filed a separate appeal earlier on Wednesday.
I had occasion to visit London and Jerusalem to meet with members of the (establishment) media, of the two respective parliaments and people from think tanks and universities. I took this trip to talk with interested parties about a human rights case. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of a group called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is being held in solitary confinement in a prison in Nigeria. His crime? He gave an interview to the BBC in which he said that Nigeria’s 70 million Biafrans want a referendum on independence. Nnamdi is a British citizen; his wife and child live in Manchester, England. He renounced his Nigerian citizenship years ago. In the spring of 2021, Nnamdi was in Kenya to meet with Biafrans to discuss independence from the corrupt, violent and Muslim fundamentalist government of Nigeria.
On October 18, 2020, during the #EndSARS protests against police violence and state corruption in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, a photo was shared on social media that quickly drew nationwide attention. The image showed passionate protesters with their fists pumped in the air, mouths wide open singing songs and chanting slogans. Some were holding placards that read “Our Lives Matter.” What drew the attention of the public, however, was the woman right at the center of the image. With a small Nigerian flag in her left hand and missing her right leg, the woman who was later identified as Jane Obiene stood out because of the defiant spirit she embodied by joining the protest march on crutches.
Last month, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times. It might as well have been written by the Pentagon. Buhari promoted Brand Nigeria, auctioning the country’s military services to Western powers, telling readers that Nigeria would lead Africa’s “war on terror” in exchange for foreign infrastructure investment. “Though some believe the war on terror [WOT] winds down with the US departure from Afghanistan,” he says, “the threat it was supposed to address burns fiercely on my continent.” With Boko Haram and Islamic State operating in and near Nigeria, pushing a WOT narrative is easy. But counterterror means imperial intervention.
A Dutch court has ordered the Nigerian subsidiary of Shell to pay compensation over oil spills in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, a ruling which could pave the way for more cases against multinational oil firms. The Court of Appeal in The Hague on Friday ruled that the Nigerian arm of the British-Dutch company must issue payouts over a long-running civil case involving four Nigerian farmers who were seeking compensation, and a clean-up, from the company over pollution caused by leaking oil pipelines. It held Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary liable for two leaks that spewed oil over an area of a total of about 60 football pitches in two villages, saying that it could not be established “beyond a reasonable doubt” that saboteurs were to blame.