The Socialist Party of Nigeria felicitates with workers on the occasion of this year international workers' day. Traditionally, workers through the trade unions use this occasion to table before the government and private employers a number of demands aimed at improving our living and working condition. This year will not be different. But this May Day is taking place barely four months after the mightiest general strike in Nigeria's history. In January, practically the entire country united in protest against the latest attempt to place the burden of the country's crisis on the shoulders of working people and the poor. Tens of millions looked to Labour not just for reversing the fuel price hike but increasingly for "regime change". But tragically most Labour leaders backed down, not just from challenging the Jonathan clique but also on totally reversing the fuel price hike.
An opportunity was lost. The NLC and TUC specifically said that they did not want "regime change". But May Day shows precisely why "regime change", a break with capitalism, is urgently needed. Many will have noticed that most of the demands put forward in previous years are repeated this year. Government has refused to meet those demands. It is not that there are no resources to meet them. It is because, being pro-capitalist, the government does not represent the interest of workers and the poor. Most of the political parties contest for power to satisfy the self-serving interest of the rich, corrupt politicians and contractors mostly called private sectors. It is against this background the Socialist Party is formed as a genuine alternative that represents the interest of workers, youths and poor masses. The party will struggle for political power with the aim of using the resources of society to meet their yearnings and aspirations of working people and the poor. We call on workers to join the party today and become active members.
The past plundering of Nigeria by British imperialism under colonial rule has now been replaced by a new colonialism, as the elite hand over Nigeria's assets to be exploited by the multinational companies. It is crucial for a new direction to be followed in which a majority of Nigerians will live a life of happiness and fulfillment rather than what we are presently experiencing (a life of poverty, want and disease). Towards this end, the SPN will always give full and active support to agitation to democratically discuss and redesign Nigeria.
The best part of current civil rule that began in 1999 has seen Nigeria amass huge wealth from the longest run of oil boom in its history. Yet, the vast majority of Nigerians experience near absolute poverty in the midst of plenty. Infrastructures are in terrible state while public education and health care are grossly underfunded. We pay exorbitantly high price for fuel despite being the world's seventh largest oil exporter; the price of petrol, for instance, has been increased by 385% since 1999! Workers have to go on strike actions before we could gain little concession. Factories have been closing shops and some have relocated out of the country with attendant job losses as a result of collapse of infrastructure and outrageous cost of energy. This has been the scorecard of anti-poor government and political parties. We need a working class alternative; we need a Socialist Party that can bring into being a government that represents the working people and poor.
All the major political parties in Nigeria are one and the same. They are united against working people and poor with brutal capitalist neo-liberal attacks and brazen robbery of our collective wealth. All of them embrace and implement anti-poor capitalist policies of privatization, deregulation, commercialization and cuts in social spending. For instance, while the PDP's federal government wickedly increased fuel price, the ACN's government in Lagos state callously hiked the school fees of Lagos State University by about 750% which has resulted in over 60% of the qualified students forfeiting their admission because of inability to pay. All the state governments irrespective of ruling political parties have not fully implemented the minimum wage. The failure of governments at all level has made it mandatory for everybody to strive to provide for their electricity, water, education of children and health care. All this has to come to end.
While in power, the party will commit the resources of the society to provision of basic infrastructure and facilities that could guarantee free and quality education, health care, good roads, affordable housing, regular power etc. Outside the power, the party will identify with the struggles of workers, professionals, artisans, traders, youths and poor masses with an alternative that benefits the vast majority. We shall also campaign for government to provide basic infrastructure and to meet the demands of workers and the poor.
To mobilize adequate resources for social needs and infrastructure, the party will reverse the anti-poor policy of privatization which is daylight robbery of public properties and collective patrimony. The party will put the key sectors of the economy under public ownership so that the use of the country's resources can be democratically organized to meet the needs of the masses, not the profits of the few. In order to prevent debacle and corrupt practices which have characterized public companies, the nationalized companies will be put under democratic control and management of the workers and consumers. We hold that the failure of public companies is not because they are publicly owned but because they are run with self-serving interest and not in public interest. The crisis in the banking sector which required huge bail out from public funds for
some of the banks to remain afloat shows that private sector are not better managers of economy and resources. Besides, all the probes (power, fuel subsidy, pension, etc) undertaken by the National Assembly have shockingly revealed that the so-called private sector work hand in hand with corrupt public officers to fleece and ruin the entire country. We need a party that is prepared to run governance and economy for the benefits of all as against the profit-first interest and greed of a few.
The anti-poor politicians and top government functionaries pay themselves jumbo salaries and allowances and in most cases loot the treasury, yet they claim that the new minimum wage of N18,000 for workers cannot be supported by economy. While holding political offices, members of Socialist Party, elected and appointed, shall only earn the average salaries paid to skilled civil servants while the state will be responsible for proven and reasonable expenses. The elected officials on the platform of the party will be subjected to recall by their electors
The major lesson of the January 2012 struggle and the previous general strikes since the advent of civil rule is the dire need for a genuine, mass party of the people that based itself on the working class and could wrest power from the thieving ruling elite and use the public resources for the benefit of all. This is what Socialist Party stands for. The Socialist Party, whilst striving to build itself, shall continue to campaign for formation of a pan-Nigeria mass working people party armed with socialist program. The party will work to help the trade unions become fighting bodies as part of building a vibrant movement of workers, youth and all the oppressed that can lead the struggle to chase the anti-poor, pro-capitalist politicians out of the power. As part of this the party shall contest political power and struggle with workers and the poor in their demands for improved living and working conditions, and against anti-poor, capitalist neo-liberal attacks by government at all levels.
Workers and ordinary people cannot find expression in all pro-establishment political parties since they are run based on anti-poor policies and program. Socialist Party shall be organized democratically such that all active and disciplined party members shall contribute to the running and program of the party. Let's join the Socialist Party. It is the party of workers, youths and the poor. Join us and help build the party for millions and not a few multi-millionaires.
Protem National Chairperson