* ARREST OF LEADERSHIP NEWSPAPER REPORTERS AND OTHER VICIOUS ATTACKS ON DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS IN NIGERIA
Over the last few weeks, certain events and developments have occurred which clearly show that Nigeria is once again travelling a dangerous road towards the dark days of military despotism with the President Jonathan Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) anti-poor government firmly in the driving seat.
On Monday, 8 April 2013, four reporters of Leadership newspaper were invited by the Police over a story in their newspaper. They were promptly detained at the Force Headquarters, Abuja and were only released following strident public outcry. In a similar vein, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has publicly complained, according to Leadership Newspaper of Thursday 11 April 2013, of the constant harassment, with intention to arrest and detain, of one of its members, Prof. Haruna Abdu Kaita of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria by personnel of the State Security Service (SSS) for alleged comments he made during "a lecture he delivered as an academic in the University recently."
To us in the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), these two developments graphically show how the President Goodluck Jonathan's anti-poor capitalist government is speedily growing despotic. To discerning minds, these and a host of other actions of the government over the years including many cases, which unfortunately do not make screaming headlines in the newspapers, of victimisation of workers at their workplaces and of students in the Universities are telltale signs of a creeping dictatorship developing. If not checked, we may all too soon find ourselves in a police-state where all democratic rights won through years of mass protests against military despotism would have evaporated. This state of affairs would certainly not be in the best interest of the working and poor masses of Nigeria.
The SPN condemns in strong terms all these brazen attacks on people's democratic rights including the freedom of the press and the rights to expression and association. We demand of the government respect of democratic rights. We call for the scrapping of all repressive arms of the State including the State Security Service (SSS). We also demand the full democratization of the command structures of the Police, and also the army, in such a way that rank and file policemen and women have roles in decision making instead of the way the police force is being used and controlled by the corrupt ruling elites to repress workers and poor people.
We call on journalists and media workers not just to condemn this vicious attack of the government in words but also in actions. These are signs of a creeping dictatorship that cannot and should not be taken with levity. A one- day strike and mass protests countrywide of journalists, media workers, trade unions and civil society groups is to us the best response to this assault on our democratic right. It would send the right signal to the corrupt ruling class that the people cherish freedom and will not allow any attempt whatsoever aimed at abridging the hard-won freedom of the press and other democratic rights without a fight.
In any case, only an anti-poor government that does not govern in the interest of the working people but that of a few would need to keep repressive agencies like the SSS. Only such government would go as far as arresting journalists and harassing academics for simply writing, talking and criticizing government policies.
In contrast, a government that governs in the interest of the mass majority would have little to fear about any internal threat because there would be no basis for such in a society where the majority are well fed, comfortably sheltered, fully educated, healthy and gainfully employed. That is the kind of Nigeria we in the Socialist Party envision which is why we are putting ourselves forward as a genuine alternative political party that can govern Nigeria in accordance with the needs and aspirations of the mass majority. We call on workers, youths and poor masses to join the SPN so that together we can build a powerful political movement to oust the corrupt capitalist ruling elites and put in their place a workers and peoples government fully devoted to governing in the interests of the workers and poor masses.
Protem National Chairman
Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN)