Tuesday, 11 April 2017

OYO STATE: Continuous appointment of local government caretakers by Ajimobi-led government is undemocratic and fraudulent

*We demand local council election and probe of the finances of Senator Ajimobi-led government

PRESS STATEMENT
 
The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, Oyo State chapter condemns and describes as undemocratic and fraudulent the continuing decision of the Abiola Ajimobi-led government of appointing caretakers as the head of the local council governments in the state. 

The SPN sees the recent appointments of a new set of local council caretakers’ chairmen by Senator Ajimobi-led government for the fourth times since the inception of the regime in 2011 as a ploy to continue to maintain its autocratic grip and control over the local council resources and funds. No wonder that most of the newly appointed caretaker chairmen are either pliable elements or family members/acolytes of the Governor and his associates who can easily be manipulated or used as rubberstamp of government plan which is usually centred around how the funds and revenues of local councils will continue to be monopolized and diverted for pecuniary interests of the state government; while the people remain in the dark on how funds allocated to the local councils are being spent. 

In the last six years, over 200 billion naira has accrued to local councils in the state from the federation account. This is aside many other counterpart funds from federal government agencies and organisations like Universal Basic Education Council (UBEC). Yet there is nothing to show for these huge resources in terms of practical improvement in the living condition of both the workers and the poor masses at different local council across the state.

Instead, the entire local councils and the services they provide in the state are in decrepit conditions. For instance, most local and intra-township roads are in terrible state.  Most of the public health institutions especially the primary health care services are in terrible conditions, lacking basic facilities to run effective medical services. This is as a result of chronic underfunding of health sector. Educational supports such as provision of educational materials like textbooks, note books, chalk, etc., that used to be given by local councils in the past has long been stopped. The most ridiculous is that, local council workers like their counterpart under state ministries are owed salary arrears ranging from 5 to 10 months.

It is in view of this that SPN believes that behind the periodic imposition of a new set of caretaker chairmen by Ajimobi-led government is a motive that is far from bringing about effective grassroots development in the state. Instead it is an arrangement to cover-up for its misdeeds and misplacement of funds meant for the development of various local councils in the state.   

This is why SPN continues to demand Local government elections that can the people at the grassroots the opportunity to elect their representatives and political office holders like the chairmen and chancellors through a democratic electoral system that guarantees equal rights for all political parties. At the same time, the SPN calls for a public probe panel composed by elected representatives of trade unions, communities, artisan groups and youth organisations to carry out extensive investigation into finances of local councils in the state under Ajimobi-led government.
 
Abiodun Bamigboye
Secretary, SPN Oyo State

Friday, 31 March 2017

SPN Demands Government takeover of OPL 245 and Nationalization of the Oil and Gas Industry under democratic management


Malabu Oil Scandal

Press Statement
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) hereby demands that government takes over Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 with immediate effect and run the oil block as a public entity under democratic control and management for the good and benefit of the entire people of Nigeria. 

Not doing this would allow this highly lucrative oil field to fall into the hands of crooks of all shades who are now circling round to have a slice of the collective wealth of our people. If this happens, the result would be further enrichment of a crooked few at the expense of the vast majority.

As far as we are concerned, OPL 245 and the entire oil and gas resources of Nigeria are the collective wealth of the entirety of the people of Nigeria. Therefore no individual or private company, whether local or multinational, has a right to take ownership of it.

We therefore demand that all individuals connected with this robbery of our collective wealth be immediately prosecuted. We also demand that oil and gas companies linked with the crime should be immediately stopped from doing business in Nigeria and all their holdings within the country be confiscated and nationalized. 

We make this call because of the unending scandal and legal battle rocking the sale of this oil block both within Nigeria and in the UK and Italy for more than a decade now. The latest ruling of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court granted the ownership of the oil block to Shell and Agip thereby vacating the January 26 order that granted the government interim ownership. 

Now following this ruling, the family of late military dictator Sanni Abacha is out demanding a share of the prize. In all of these, the ordinary people of Nigeria and the ordinary people of the Niger Delta who are the legitimate owners of the entire oil resources in the country are not considered. 

OPL is said to be the biggest oil block in Africa. The highly lucrative oil block which, according to industry figures, is said to hold at least 9.23 billion barrels of crude oil, equivalent to nearly one quarter of Nigeria’s total proven reserves, has been rocked by scandal since its fraudulent sale by the Abacha military dictatorship in 1998. In a display of legendary crookedness, Dan Atete, Abacha’s oil minister, sold the oil block to Malabu Oil and Gas - a company he set up and owns. Malabu later contracted Shell Petroleum and SNEPCO, in a joint venture scheme, to operate the license.

Afterwards in 2011, in a deal negotiated by the then country’s attorney-general of the federation and minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), the Jonathan government concessioned OPL 245 to Shell and ENI who paid $1.2 billion to Dan Atete and Malabu plus a signature bonus of $210 million to the Nigerian government. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said its investigation further revealed that the government was defrauded by SPDC and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd by underpaying the sum of $210 million as a signature bonus on OPL 245.

The OPL 245 scandal just like the 2012 fuel subsidy scandal shows the highly corrupt and opaque situation in the oil and gas sector and the frequent connivance of top government officials, politicians, industry regulators and multinational companies to defraud the country. Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is dominated by a handful of multinational oil giants who make away with enormous profit from lifting and export of crude oil and gas. Apart from corruption and treasury looting, the placement of the oil and gas sector in private hands is a fundamental factor responsible for Nigeria’s underdevelopment and the existence of mass poverty in the midst of abundant potentials and resources.  

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) therefore calls for the public ownership of the oil and gas sector under the democratic control and management of the working people. It is only under this kind of pro-working people arrangement that it can be possible to ensure that Nigeria’s oil wealth is of benefit to the mass majority unlike the present situation whereby our oil wealth only enriches a tiny gang of politicians, oil multinationals and subsidy thieves. Equally it is only this kind of pro-working people arrangement that can ensure that the ordinary people of the oil producing states benefit from the oil resources found on their land while allowing for a rational plan to create alternative and clean energy sources and restore the Niger Delta environment serially violated and degraded by decades of unbridled activities of the oil companies.

Unfortunately, a capitalist government like the Buhari government cannot be expected to defend the collective wealth of the people and prevent its encroachment by capitalist vultures. Already, the same Buhari government is handing over many other prized public assets to private hands through neo-liberal policies of privatization, deregulation and concessioning. The railways are now top on the list of national assets the Buhari government wishes to sell off. Meanwhile, the history of privatization, looking at the sale of the power sector, Daily Times newspaper etc, in Nigeria shows that this economic measure is fraudulent and cannot help to develop the country. 

To put an end to such mindless rape of our collective wealth, the working people of Nigeria have to struggle to end capitalism and enthrone a working and poor people’s government based on a socialist program. It is only under this kind of government that collective resources and wealth of the society can be defended and placed under public ownership and democratic management in order to ensure that these resources are used primarily for the benefit of the mass majority instead of the profit of a few.

Chinedu Bosah
National Secretary, SPN

Sunday, 13 November 2016

PURPORTED 50% SLASH OF SALARIES OF OYO POLITICAL APPOINTEES IS A GIMMICK TO FORCE A PAY CUT ON CIVIL SERVANTS



*NLC and TUC must be united towards a struggle to resist any attempt to slash salaries and pensions in the state
*For   political office holders of the same salary and allowances as civil servant as well as an end to a dubious contact system through which political office holders and their allies siphon public money

The attention of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) Oyo state chapter has been drawn to a media report that the APC-led government in the state claimed to have slashed the salaries of political appointees by 50%.  SPN sees the purported 50% slash in salaries of political appointees, which was reportedly disclosed by the Secretary to the state government, Mr Olalekan Ali during a press conference held on the 7th November, 2016, as a mere deceit and gimmick to build a public sympathy towards a bid to revive the age long plan of the Senator Ajimobi-led government to slash the salaries and pensions of civil servants and retirees in the state.

The basic salaries of political office holders and appointees are small if compared to all forms of jumbo allowances they receive. Some of these allowances are for vehicles, entertainment, security, utility, newspapers, medical, clothing, feeding etc. and they often range from 100% to 300% of their basic salaries. All these allowances taken by political appointees just as the governor and members of house of assembly take security votes and constituency allowance respectively are so outrageous such that their opulent lifestyle will not be affected even with the so called 50% slash in their salary.

If the Ajimobi-led Oyo state government is truly interested in any serious measure to shore up the dwindling revenue base, it should rather place all its political office holders and appointee on the same salary and allowances scale as that of mass of civil servants in the state. He must at the same time scrap security vote, abolish the corrupt contract system while invest money liberated from this measure in social and public infrastructure through a public work programme under democratic control of workers. This is very important because inflation of contracts has been one of the ways through which politicians and big business siphon public money under contract system.  

Except this kind of measure is taken no amount of percentage slash of salary of either political appointees or political office holder will translate into any improvement in the living and working condition of the working people in the state. Instead the 50% slash in salary of political appointee may sooner or later turns out to be a weapon in the hands of the pro-capitalist Ajimobi-led government in the state to start canvassing for a slash in the meagre salary and allowance of civil servants in the state.

Therefore we call on the civil servants in the state particularly the leadership of the major trade union centres in the state NLC, TUC including the JNC not to be induced by the called 50% slash in the salary of political appointee to agree or accept any slash in the salary of civil servants in the state. Instead, they must be united toward initiating a renewed struggle against non-payment of backlogs of salaries and pensions and other attacks on living and working condition under which the civil servants in the state groan.   

    Abiodun Bamigboye (Abbey Trotsky)
(08033914091)
Secretary, SPN, Oyo State Chapter

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

OYO School Violence: Arrest and Detention of Secondary School Students



* Oyo state government should not create more monsters  *For a democratically constituted panel of enquiry to investigate and prescribe an appropriate corrective disciplinary measure for any student found culpable 



                                                                      Press Statement


The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN Oyo State Chapter calls on the Oyo State government to exercise a great caution over the arrest, arraignment in court and subsequent detention of the secondary schools students who allegedly set classrooms on fire at Isale-Oyo Community High School, Oyo town. The affected students allegedly committed the offence during the students’ unrest to protest against the government new promotion policy which led to mass failure of students in the unified examination conducted by the Oyo State ministry of education. This is very important to avoid creating more monsters among secondary schools across the state.
To be cleared, SPN condemns destruction of properties in course of any protest and is not averse to any disciplinary measure against students that are allegedly involved in the dastardly act of burning down classrooms among others. However, it is our concern that such disciplinary measure, which we agree is necessary to serve as a deterrent to others, must have as its focus first and foremost on the need to correct and rehabilitate these students in order to safeguard the future of the state.

Unfortunate, considering the sorry state of police detentions/ custodies and prisons across the country today, we are left with no option than to be worried that the arrest of these students with ages between 12 and 15 and their subsequent arraignment in court which has resulted into continuous detention of some of them at police custody could make them vulnerable to the influence of hardened criminals. Should this happen, it will automatically mean a defeat of the corrective and rehabilitative purpose which should be the central motive for carrying out any disciplinary measure against any students that are culprit of these dastardly acts.
If care is not taken, the arrest and continuous detention of many of these students could create an avenue for them to establish a link with many of the hardened criminals who are often harboured and kept in many police custodies/detentions and prisons across the country. Thus, it may deepen the economically induced potential in these students to take into crime in the nearest future.

Given the huge prospect for future negative implications and consequences inherent in the arrest and continuous detention of these students, SPN is quick to call on the senator Ajimobi/APC-led government in the state to consider the option to review its stance over their prosecution and order for the immediate release of the detained secondary school students with a view to set up a democratic panel of inquiry that will have as members representatives of trade unions ( NLC, TUC , NUT, ASUU, ASUP, NASU, SSANU etc); associations like PTA, NBA, pro-working people civil society organisation as well as government functionaries.

The task of this panel will be first and foremost to investigate the original cause and perpetrators of the dastardly act. This will be with a view to arrive at a consensus as to the kind of disciplinary measure that will be appropriate enough to kick the process to end the growing indiscipline, criminal tendencies and widespread abuse of drug among secondary school students in the state.

More importantly, there is the need for the state government to review its rigid stance on the newly formulated promotion policy which obviously failed to take cognizance of the poor state the public education as a result of gross underfunding and the circumstance under which the examination itself was written. As a matter of fact, we of SPN believe that, it is unfair and immoral for Senator Ajimobi-led government in the state to continue to insist on a new promotion policy which stipulates among other things that only students who score 50% in five major subjects including English and Mathematics will transit to the next class. This is because the same Senator Ajimobi-led government like its predecessors has performed poorly even below 10% in term of adequate funding of education which is the root cause of most of the crisis bedeviling education sector in the state. Besides, the students had a few weeks of lecture because of long closure by the state government such that they could not adequately prepare for the promotional examinations.

SPN therefore maintains that if the Ajimobi-led Oyo state government is truly serious about academic excellence, then it must allocate adequate resources that will ensure provision of facilities and motivated teaching staff for quality public education. This is what can help begin to reverse the sorry state of public education in the state.

The SPN also calls on the workers unions in education sector in the state particularly NUT, ASUU, ASUP, COEASU; NASU, SSANU, ANCORPS etc including PTA to immediately convene and organize a conference of stakeholders like teachers, principals, parents, pupils as well as pro-education civil society organizations to review the general situation in the public education including the controversy surrounding the new promotion policy.

This kind of conference could also provide an avenue to collate and harness the concerns and anger of every stakeholder in the education sector including that of the protesting secondary school students with a view to agree on non-violent and legitimate tactic and strategies to kick-start a save public education campaign in the state. The continuous absence of this kind of initiative no doubt created a state of hopelessness and frustration that had largely forced many victims of the attacks on public education particularly students to resort to different forms of unguided and premature self-help which had resulted into avoidable destruction of valuable properties.

Except the initiative of this kind of conference is undertaken, more and more examples of the kind of violent and destructive self-help which had led to destruction of classrooms in no fewer than 7 seven secondary in Oyo state is likely to continue to be seen in the coming period. The most unfortunate aspect of this kind of destructive action is that it will provide the state government justification to continue to carry out all forms of onslaughts and clamp down with little or no room for a collective resistance on the democratic rights of the victims of its failure and abdication of its responsibilities.
Abiodun Bamigboye (Abbey Trotsky)
(08033914091)
Secretary, SPN, Oyo State Chapter