Friday, 23 June 2017

LAUTECH CRISIS: Workers must be vigilant over proposed forensic audit by Ajimobi government


Press Statement

The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, Oyo State Chapter warns the four existing workers’ unions (Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Non-academic Staff Union, NASU, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU and National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT) in Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomosho to be vigilant and watchful over the proposed forensic audit of LAUTECH by the Senator Ajimobi-led government of Oyo State. According to Prof. Niyi Olowofela, the state Commissioner of Education, the proposed forensic audit is one of the ways the government hopes to solve the funding issues of LAUTECH permanently.

It is a welcome development if truly the Ajimobi-led government has finally realised the need, after many months of insensitivity to the plight of LAUTECH workers and students, to permanently end the lingering crisis in LAUTECH. However, the SPN is suspicious of sincerity of the Oyo government, given how, through its commissioner of education; it has been so desperate and vociferous on the so called proposed forensic audit. This is especially when there is no empirical explanation as to how such an audit is intended to resolve the crisis of poor funding bedeviling LAUTECH. 

Therefore, a proposal of forensic audit in LAUTECH at this critical period when agitation among workers for the payment of their over 8 month salary arrears has paralysed the entire activities in the university requires a serious vigilance. This is very important because the past forensic audit specifically since the inception of Senator Ajimobi-led government in the state has often led to arbitrary dismissal and retrenchment of civil servants in the state. 

It must be recalled that it is the same KPMG, a private consultant firm, commissioned by the Oyo state government to carry out the proposed LAUTECH forensic audit that has always been in charge of various forensic audit civil servants in the state had undertaken at different occasions. Also worthy to note is the fact that the so-called forensic audit is often based on the pretence to purge the state civil service of ghost workers. Very similar to such an impression is the claim that the proposed LAUTECH forensic audit is meant to sanctify the University of a Tradition of corruption. Take for instance, is the allegation that the university administration operates over 79 different bank accounts.

 Also worthy to note, is the fact that Ajimobi-led government is known with the style of imposing forensic audit each time workers agitate for their legitimate entitlement. This is exactly what happened following the seven week strike embarked upon by Oyo State workers between June and July 2016 to demand the payment of their backlog of unpaid salaries. A forensic audit was imposed on the Oyo State civil servants under the pretence of the need to purge the system of ghost workers. But the exercise turned out to be a ploy through which hundreds of civil servants including medical doctors in the state were arbitrary dismissed on the basis of an allegation that their respective WAEC certificates are fake.

Following this development were letters sent from the WAEC office directly to the office of the Oyo State Head of Service that initial claim by the consultant firm that some WAEC certificates were fake was not true. In fact, it took this kind of official response from WAEC following efforts of the affected workers and a committee later set up by the State Chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, to discover that the investigation allegedly carried out by the KPMG prior to its recommendation, did not go beyond the fact that it allegedly hacked into the database of WAEC such that any worker whose name was not found therein was assumed to have fake WAEC certificate. This implies that all civil servants who sat for WAEC before the advent of computerisation of result by WAEC were assumed to hold fake certificate.

Unfortunately, despite all of these revelations, the Oyo State government has upheld the dismissal of the affected civil servants, including those that were exonerated on the basis of letter from WAEC, on the basis of the so called recommendation of the KPMG. Worse still, this was done without any effort to provide the affected workers with avenue for fair hearing through which they can adequately defend themselves. The most disheartening is that other category of workers who are free of the KPMG indictment are continue to groan under backlog of salaries arrears ranging between 3 and 6months. 

It is in line with this background, that SPN urges the LAUTECH workers through their unions to learn from the past precedent and unanimously demand an explanation over how exactly the so-called forensic audit would solve the problem of funding as claimed by the commissioner. Most importantly is the need for the unions to deepen the resistance against the dubious plan by the state government to drag the unions into the encumbrances surrounding financial auditing by KPMG, especially when the locus of financial policy and repository of the financial documents of the LAUTECH are the university council and administration and not the workers in the university. 

Bamigboye Abiodun(Abbey Trotsky)
State Secretary, SPN
08033914091



Thursday, 15 June 2017

18 years of Return to Civil Rule: Challenges for Workers and the Poor Masses



OYO SPN Holds Symposium

By Oladele Omokunle

It was a great moment on Monday, 29th May, 2017 when members and supporters of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) in Oyo State gathered for a political symposium held at the party secretariat at Mokola Ibadan. This was part of the efforts to deepen the campaign to prevail on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue the party its certificate of registration having satisfied all the conditions and requirements as prescribed in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended).

Unlike the previous symposia by the party which were held at the trade union offices in the state, this one was the first the party has held not only in its office but also within the community. This will no doubt help to deepen the growing public awareness the party is currently enjoying among workers, youths/student and other category of the working people within the state. 

 The symposium which has as its theme: “18 Years of Return to civil rule; Challenges for Workers and the Poor Masses” started with solidarity songs led by Comrade Abbey Trotsky who also moderated the programme. The speakers in attendance were Laoye Sanda, a socialist Activist; Barrister Ola Adeosun, human rights activist; Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto (SPN national youth leader) and Comrade Adeola Soetan (SPN NEC member). 

The first to lead discussion immediately after Abbey Trotsky gave a brief introduction of SPN and what it stands for was Mr Laoye Sanda who actually started by saying that what is called “democracy” in Nigeria is far from it. He maintained that all the political parties that have been able to form government at one level or the other since the inception of the civil rule in 1999 are pro-capitalist parties. He therefore stressed that it is the pro-rich character of these parties like PDP, AD, APC, APGA, etc  and the neo-liberal policies which they implement once they form a government that explain why they are often incapable to meet the need and aspiration of the working people .

He described the 16 years of PDP-led government as a disaster for the working people as he also maintained that similar result must be expected from APC and any government formed by any pro-capitalist political party.  While he blamed the leadership of trade unions particularly the Nigeria Labour congress (NLC) for their failure to provide the historical leadership to the working class and the poor masses in the struggle for working people political alternative, he commended the courage being demonstrated by members of DSM for taking the initiative to launch SPN. He therefore urged and encouraged members of DSM and SPN not to be discouraged with the antics of the capitalist ruling elites in connivance with INEC to frustrate the registration of the party as he insists that they must continue to organize the working people toward the struggle for a system change.

Speaking after Sanda was Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto. Soweto in his introduction expressed a lot of agreement with most of the submissions of the first speaker.  He went further to give a brief highlights of positive changes in term of significant improvement in both the living and working condition of the working people that are possible if the commanding heights of the economy are nationalized and the control and management are placed in the hands of the elected representatives of the working people. Comrade Soweto, in his submission urged every member of the working people that is dissatisfied with the state of the Nigeria and economy and are interested in a genuine change to join the SPN and help to build it as a step towards the task of a socialist transformation of the Nigeria state and its economy.

The need for a socialist transformation of the Nigeria capitalist economy was also emphasized by Comrade Adeola Soetan. Also very important is to note that Comrade Adeola Soetan requested from the audience while starting his speech, a one minute silence to mourn the death of prof. Abubakar Momoh, a former national officer of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and popular social crusader.  The news of his demise was broken in the middle of the programme.  After this, Barrister Ola Adeosun made his submission over whether civil servants can form or belong to political parties of their choice. Ola Adeosun stressed that it is a democratic right of civil servants to join and form political parties of their choice by making a reference to a Supreme Court judgment in the case of INEC VS BALARABE MUSA. 

The highpoint of the programme was the time for comments and contributions from the audience. All of the contributions and comments from the audience offered an opportunity for the discussion to be enriched! Take for instance, one Mr Dayo in his own contribution suggested that socialists and people with good intentions can join any of the bourgeois political parties despite their pro-rich character as a vehicle to get a political power after which they can begin to implement socialist programme. Another contribution which came from one Mr Kehinde, was a message of appreciation of the effort of the SPN members for organizing the symposium. He urged that more of such a programme should be organized in the coming period to give SPN and socialist idea a wider publicity among workers and the poor masses in the state.

Other comment is a question from Mr Gabriel who asked if a civil servant will need to resign if he or she is to stand as a candidate of a political party in an electoral contest. Comrade Isaac Ogunjimi, the secretary of DSM university of Ibadan branch, also charged the gathering on the need for a serious dedication to the task of socialist transformation of the Nigeria capitalist state.

First to respond to some of these comments was Comrade Adeola Soetan who dispelled the impression that a socialist who contested and won election on the platform of pro-capitalist political parties like APC and PDP can implement a socialist programme that is capable of bringing a significant transformation to the life of the suffering masses. A reference was made of Mr. Aregbesola, the incumbent governor of Osun state who claimed to be a Marxist but whose two terms as the governor of Osun state have not only failed to improve the working and living condition of the working people in the state but have succeeded only in compounding the economic woes of the working people in the state. 

The question as to whether a civil servant will need to resign before he or she contest election was answered by Barrister Ola Adeosun after which the programme was brought to an end around 3:30pm with solidarity songs. Twenty five copies of SD were sold, 6 persons signed the register to join SPN while over 25 persons in attendance.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

SPN Registration Case Adjourned Again


Snail pace of the Judicial system helping to perpetuate INEC injustice against us

By Peluola Adewale

The long standing legal action of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) blocking its registration suffered another adjournment on Wednesday June 7. This was the 18th time since November 19 2014 when it first came up in court that the matter has been adjourned, and indeed the second adjournment in two days. It is more worrisome that during this period of well over 2 years, the court only sat 7 times while the actual matter of INEC using excuses to refuse the SPN's registration has been mentioned just 5 times.

The matter only proceeded to a hearing for the first time on May 4, 2017 when our lawyer addressed the court to explain our case and was then the case was adjourned to June 6 for the reply of INEC. Unfortunately, on June 6, the matter was not heard but our lawyer was able to force the judge to give us the following day June 7 as the next adjournment date and put our matter as the first on the list of cases he would handle on the day. Sadly, the court did not sit as the judge purportedly just remembered that he had a conference to attend. Now the next hearing date is September 27, 2017. 

Incidentally, this latest adjournment happened this same day the INEC announced the registration of an additional five political parties, all of which possibly applied after we had done. It appears there is collusion between the judiciary and the electoral body to deny us registration. This is possibly in line with the resolve of the ruling elite to prevent pro-masses' political parties especially one that openly poses a socialist alternative as the SPN from enjoying a legal existence and being able to stand in elections. 

The SPN is in court to challenge the refusal of the INEC to register it despite having fulfilled all legal and constitutional requirements including the onerous ones. These include payment of a non-refundable fee of one million naira, having a national headquarters in Abuja and having on the National Executive Council members from at least 24 states and Abuja. 

However, having resolved from the outset that the struggle for SPN registration is as much political as legal; we shall not be daunted by the machination of the ruling elite as we shall continue to intensify political actions to force the INEC to register the party.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Two Years of Buhari Government is a Failure


A call for a Mass Working Peoples’ Party

PRESS STATEMENT

This May 29 marks the second anniversary of Muhammadu Buhari-led government. For the working people, the last two years have been a monumental disaster wrought by the anti-poor capitalist policies of the government.  So what the masses have bitterly experienced in the last two years are rising prices of goods and services far above their purchasing power, increasingly high costs of living in a country where the masses have to largely provide for themselves the basic necessities (education, health, housing, water, electricity, etc.), job losses and worsening poverty.

While acknowledging the fact that the Buhari government came to power at a period of a serious crisis of global capitalism which is exemplified by the slump in the oil prices, we of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) strongly hold that it is the anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist policies implemented by Buhari/APC government that have seriously compounded the suffering of the working people. These include increase in electricity tariff despite widespread darkness, hike in fuel price and devaluation of Naira.  This shows that Buhari led APC government, despite its grandstanding and propaganda to the contrary, is not fundamentally different from the previous administrations of the PDP as both parties support capitalism. 

We also hold that the limited seemingly populist program of Buhari government like anti-corruption crusade and social welfare empowerment are fa├žade.  It should be noted that we fully support any genuine fight against corruption that will entail recovery of public loots and imprisonment of the culprits. But the Buhari’s anti-corruption fight has proved to be more of propaganda than a serious effort aimed at taming the menace of corruption. This is because as a capitalist government with agenda like privatization and contract system that inherently promote corruption, it cannot seriously fight corruption. This explains why on Buhari’s watch, his Secretary to Federal Government has allegedly enriched himself at the expense of the victims of Boko Haram’s terror through the infamous “grass cutting” scandal and the only response was to relieve the secretary of his job after public outcry that amounts to a slap on the wrist.

The so-called social program like the much vaunted NPower is not only extremely tokenistic but also much larger in propaganda than in the actual benefit for the poor masses and youths.  For instance, the NPower program has witnessed a series of protests from the purported beneficiaries who are owed allowances. 

It is sad that workers and the poor masses, who did not significantly benefit anything at the period of boom, are being made to bear the burden of the crisis of capitalism and failure of capitalist ruling elite. Unfortunately, the labour movement has not been able to resist these harrowing attacks. For instance, for more than two years, workers in at least 27 states have been owed salaries while political offices holders have earned jumbo allowances and salaries without any serious fight back initiated and sustained by the national leadership of labour despite spirited efforts by the affected workers. Also, all what labour could put up against the wicked fuel price hike in May 2016 was a feeble, half-hearted resistance. 

We therefore call on the leadership of labour movement to wake up to their responsibility of leading fight against all capitalist attacks unleashed on workers and the poor masses and for improved living conditions for the working people.  We call on them to show seriousness in their demand for N56, 000 minimum wage by preparing to fight for it as well as immediate settlement of all salaries and pensions arrears.  As the immediate step, we call on labour to declare a 24-hour warning general strike over minimum wage, unpaid salaries and pensions, job losses and mass poverty. 

By and large, we hold that the main reason Buhari government has failed the masses is its capitalist policies and philosophy which are also shared by all major political parties (APC, PDP, LP, APGA, etc.). Therefore, for the real change in economy and conditions of the working masses, a mass working people party on socialist program is needed. Therefore, ahead of 2019 election we call for special conference of trade union, artisan, trader, youth and socialist organisations to discuss how to build a political movement to wrest political power from the capitalist ruling elite and enthrone a workers and poor people's government armed with genuine socialist program.

Chinedu Bosah
National Secretary, SPN