What’s Going On: Nigerian Labour Congress starts warning strike, Gabon’s new head of state & more

News headlines from Nigeria, Gabon and South Sudan.

“What’s Going On” Tallies Notable News Headlines From Across The Continent — The Good, The Bad, And The Horrible — As A Way Of Ensuring That We All Become A More Sagacious African Generation. With This Column, We’re Hoping To Disseminate The Latest Happenings In Our Socio-Political Climate From Across The Continent, Whilst Starting A Conversation About What’s Important For Us To All Discuss. From Political Affairs To Socio-Economic Issues, ‘What’s Going On’ Will Discuss Just That. This Week’s Headlines Come From Gabon, Nigeria & South Sudan.

Brice Oligui sworn in as Gabon’s new head of state

Last week, Gabon became the eighth country in west and central Africa to be taken over by a military junta, following a coup that overthrew 14-year president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, successor to his father Omar Bongo, who ruled for 41 years. Led by Brice Oligui Nguema, a 48-year old army general and commander of the elite military unit known as the republican guard, the coup took place in the aftermath of elections that returned Ali Bongo as president, despite widespread allegations of gross irregularities and blatant rigging.

On Monday, September 4, Brice Oligui was sworn in as Gabon’s new head of state, as he took the oath in the presidential palace in the country’s capital Libreville. “This patriotic action will be a lesson learnt that will be taught in the books of our schools,” he said in the speech that followed his swearing-in, noting that the junta had taken power without any bloodshed. In addition to the announcement that a new government would be formed in a few days, he recommended a new penal code, a referendum for a new constitution, and a new electoral legislation.

Brice Oligui also promised a “free, transparent election” that would return power to the people, however there’s no set date. With the legislative reforms he’s proposing, though, analysts predicts that it could take months, or years possibly, for the next elections. While the United Nations roundly condemned the coup and the African Union suspended Gabon, many of its citizens are celebrating the junta’s seizing of power. However, there are some local cynics, like presidential opposition candidate Albert Ondo Ossa, who’s adamant that he won the cancelled elections and has called the coup a “palace revolution” meant to keep the Bongo family in power—Brice Oligui is Ali Bongo’s cousin.

Nigerian Labour Congress begins 2-day working strike

“I think they’re just conditioning us for when the price officially becomes N700 per litre or something ridiculous,” a concerned Nigerian citizen told The NATIVE earlier this year, during a petrol scarcity crisis that had been rocking the country for months. Immediately after his inauguration as president in late May, Bola Tinubu announced the removal of petrol subsidy and a change in the per litre pump price of petrol, almost tripling the official price upon his arrival into office.

The hike in price, with petrol going for N585 per litre in Lagos and up to N620 per litre in some states, has impacted the cost of living, doubling the cost of transportation and driving up the prices of household goods. In protest of the fuel price hike and its impact on the cost of living, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has embarked on a 2-day warning strike, starting on Tuesday, September 5. The largest trade union federation in the country, the NLC’s strike is expected to affect varying sectors of the economy, with several affiliate unions, including education, aviation and banking, joining in the strike.

“The removal of fuel subsidies is a direct attack on the poor and working people of Nigeria,” NLC president Joe Ajaero said in a statement. “It is an attempt to impoverish our people further and make life more difficult for them.” The federal government appealed to the NLC to call off the strike, however, the congress leaders boycotted a meeting convened by the minister of labour and employment, remaining adamant that the warning strike would go on as scheduled. While the entire country isn’t on standstill, it’s been reported that some electricity workers, bankers and civil servants have joined the strike action. The warning strike is expected to end on Wednesday, September 6.

South Sudan Basketball makes Olympic history

Of the four African countries participating in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, South Sudan has emerged as one of the best stories of the entire tournament. Representing the youngest nation in the world, the basketball team clinched a spot at next year’s Olympics in Paris, after beating perennial African basketball powerhouse Angola 101-78 on Saturday, clinching the lone FIBA Africa direct qualification spot.

Already a surprise qualifier to the world cup, this latest feat is incredibly remarkable for a country whose basketball program is very young. Led by point guard and reigning NBA G-League MVP Carlik Jones, the Bright Stars of South Sudan won the first two matches in the preliminary, including a blowout win against host country Philippine, before losing their next two matches. However, their win in the classification round against Angola ranks them as the top African team of the competition, immediately qualifying them for next year’s Olympics.

[Featured Image Credits: Guardian NG]