Socialist Worker

Ethnic division in Nigeria can be overcome by spirit of solidarity shown during strikes

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2287

The West African state of Nigeria was shaken by a series of bomb explosions on Friday of last week.

More than 200 people were killed in the northern city of Kano as the armed Islamic group Boko Haram carried out a series of coordinated attacks.

This has brought Nigeria’s ethnic conflicts back to the fore rather than the solidarity that bloomed during the recent general strike.

Nigerian authorities say that the rise of terrorist attacks threatens the country with civil war and that more military repression is needed.

The north of the country is mostly Muslim, while the south is largely Christian.

Boko Haram recruit among the masses of desperately poor young unemployed. Its propaganda attacks the corrupt government for stealing the country’s oil wealth.

But the strike threatened Boko Haram as much as the government. It showed the best way to resist corruption is to unite with other poor people whatever their religion.

It is convenient for the government to blame social divisions on Islamic extremism. But the root cause is the system that drives the majority of Nigerians to live on less than $2 (£1.28) a day.

Masses of people took over the centre of Kano during the fuel protests and renamed it “Liberation Square”, inspired by the occupation of Tahrir Square in Egypt.

Baba Aye of the Socialist Workers League, Socialist Worker’s sister organisation, said, “Nigeria could be at the edge of a civil war. Different sections of our degenerate ruling class stoke the embers of divide and rule. But during the strike barely a fortnight ago Christians and Muslims stood as one in Liberation Square.”

When Boko Haram threatened Christians in Kano during the stoppage, Muslims came out to show solidarity.

Boko Haram’s latest attacks were focused on police stations and immigration centres.

Baba added, “The situation now is not simply a religious conflict—most of those killed are Muslims.

“We have a failed system and its failed state. It is time for the people across neighbourhoods and cities to organise our self defence and organs of people’s power.”


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