Occupy Nigeria, Port Harcourt, Day 3

There was no demonstration here yesterday.  According to my sources, the grassroots NGOs involved were dismayed with how the previous day’s march turned out.  They spent yesterday creating strategies for, as they termed it, “taking back the mobilization from the labor union big men.” Those human rights groups felt like further coordination with the NLC could further professionalize (my term from the previous post) the movement, making negotiations too covert and too undemocratic. There were rumors swirling around via text message that labor leaders had taken bribes from the governor’s office at the Tuesday march, and that consequently the national strike would be called off next week (yet to be determined true or false). The other messages disseminated on facebook included that the subsidy would soon be reinstated to 65 naira per liter (false) and that a protesting youth in Port Harcourt had been shot by police earlier in the morning (false). After spending the day rethinking the mobilization tactics, NGO activists set a demonstration time for 9 am this morning.

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2 responses to “Occupy Nigeria, Port Harcourt, Day 3

  1. Christine Harrington

    So there is a “human rights” presence (domestic, international,?) that maybe in opposition to the labor movement. On what terms? Does gender play a role here? Is the gov negotiating or talk with any of the human rights or women’s groups? Christine

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    • It is very difficult to be a labor-oriented “human rights” organization in Nigeria and not be supportive of the national labor union (National Labor Congress or NLC), since it is really only through coordination with the NLC that labor-based reforms are implemented by the federal government. There are many other domestic civil/human rights groups that exist separate from the labor movement and they may be opposed to the NLC at times when the NLC agenda is not compatible with that of the human rights groups. For example, the NLC has called for greater local job creation for Niger Deltans, which is in opposition to environmental groups asking for the oil companies to leave altogether. Based on my understanding at this point, I would represent this with a simple Venn diagram, with the NLC occupying one circle, domestic civil/human rights groups not focused on labor in the other, and labor-focused civil/human rights groups in the intersection. International human rights groups do not have as strong a presence in Nigeria as in many other African countries, resulting largely from the inhospitable military regimes and the systematic corruption that have hindered the growth of both of civil society groups and more general human rights culture.

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