Wednesday, 29 May 2013

“Democracy Day”: Celebrating 14 Years of Monumental Failure


Press Statement

Fourteen years into the current civil rule has, apart from the removal of direct military dictatorship, has almost completely failed to meet the hopes and aspirations of the working masses. Even the limited democratic rights which have been enjoyed during these years are being challenged as the government moves towards more authoritarian methods and a growing reliance on the security forces to enforce its rule. These years have been a monumental failure for the capitalist ruling elite in Nigeria who have been shown to be incapable in the areas of social services like education, health care, etc and infrastructural development. This is in spite of the fact the period since the end of military rule witnessed the longest run of oil windfall in the history of Nigeria.  In other words, the country has amassed very huge oil and gas revenue much more than any period since the discovery of the oil at commercial quantity.  But there has been nothing fundamental to show for it in term of social services and infrastructure development. 

This is as a result of the tightening grip of capitalist globalization and the ruling class’s prevailing neo-liberal philosophy which discourages social spending and prioritises commercialization and privatization under the guise of private-sector driven economy. This itself enhances the propensity for corruption as the huge revenue at the disposal of the government is not primarily meant to be spent on the welfare of the people. Therefore the money is just there for looting.  It is not accidental that governance in this country is synonymous with corruption. Even when money is allocated to a sector or project it is not sincerely used for the public good but to gratify the greedy top government functionaries and their fronts called contractors. The refineries' turn around maintenance, power and road projects under the Obasanjo government readily come to minds as one of the several examples of colossal looting of the treasury under the guise of infrastructural development.

The oil wealth has made Nigeria a fertile ground for the viable growth of parasitic capitalist ruling elite who don't invest in production, apart from where they can make quick profits like food, but pour money into campaigns for public offices where their looting makes a huge profit at the expense of the poor and working people. This together with the poor state of infrastructure accounts for why the so-called economic growth has not led to job creation and poverty reduction.  The so-called poverty eradication program of the government is not only extremely tokenistic but also another cesspit of corruption. The allocation to education and health care are well below the international recommendations for third world countries. The poor state of the education and health sectors means that the capitalist politicians in power do not patronize public schools and hospitals.  For the simplest of ailment they are off to Europe. More annoyingly, they draw from public resources to settle the bill.
On top of all these is the monumental unemployment situation which has turned Nigeria to a seething time bomb. Youth unemployment is particularly outrageous with over 28 million youths estimated to be unemployed. The youth unemployment situation contributes largely to the ethno-religious crisis of Boko Haram, kidnapping and armed robbery rocking the nation. A million State of Emergency declarations will fail to end this cycle of terrorism, violence and bloodletting unless government begins to invest in social programs to create real and well-paid jobs. Indeed not just the North eastern states, several forms of ethno-religious crisis can occur in every part of the country given the level of anger, frustration and discontent of the big youth population which feel increasingly alienated and abandoned by society. 

Instead of stealing billions of our collective resources under the guise of fighting Boko Haram, we challenge the clueless Jonathan government to declare, as a minimum let's say 200, 000 permanent job offers on a living wage to youths in the North irrespective of education qualifications and let’s see if Boko Haram will continue to have enough fighters ready to die for their reactionary objective of a sharia state. This is because any youth who has a job has a future - which is what majority of frustrated youths being recruited by Boko Haram in the North and other violent groups elsewhere lack. But the Goodluck Jonathan government will not take this step because it is far more profitable to the politicians and their contractor friends to continue push through this official genocide called state of emergency instead of creating jobs and other social amenities that can give the youths of this country a bright future.

This is why the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) is using the occasion of May 29 "Democracy Day" celebration to call for a socialist change in Nigeria. There must be an end to the neo-liberal capitalist program of privatisation and commercialisation if the resources of the country can be used for the benefit of the vast majority. The pay and allowance of top government functionaries and all political office holders must be based on the civil service salary structure.  The commanding heights of the economy, (e.g. oil, banks, etc) must be placed under the democratic control of the elected representatives of workers and relevant professionals who are subject to recall by their electors. There must be adequate allocation to education, health care and public works together with their democratic running with the elected representatives of workers and relevant professionals, subject to recall by their electors, on committees and organs at all levels. 
 
The fact is the capitalist ruling elites and their parties cannot support or implement those measures.  They have to be voted out of power.  This is why we have been canvassing for the formation of a mass working peoples’ party with a socialist program to contest and wrest political power. In the interim, the SPN is being formed to contest election on socialist program and work towards formation of a mass working peoples' party.  Until such party is built and wins political power the situation, on the basis of neo-liberal capitalist program, can only get worse for the working people and the poor. The future is bleak for the vast majority. 

Segun Sango
Protem National Chairperson
Socialist Party of Nigeria           

TWO YEAR INTO AJIMOBI/ACN GOVERNMENT IN OYO STATE


PUBLIC WORKERS ARE STILL DEPRIVED OF N18, 000 MINIMUM WAGE!
·        For an adequate compensation for all victims of demolition now!

Press Statement

We of the Oyo State Chapter of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) use the occasion of this year anniversary of the return to civil rule otherwise called “Democracy Day” to call on the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, to immediately comply with the national minimum wage law which stipulates N18, 000 as basic salary for Step1 level 1 workers with commensurate increase for workers in other levels. We also demand adequate compensations for thousands of working people in the state whose shops/stalls and houses were demolished without prior alternative under the guise of beautification and cleaning-up project.  

It will be recalled that on the 2nd May, 2012, the Oyo State public workers, in order to pave way for negotiation with the state government suspended their three weeks strike action which they had embarked upon to protest the continued refusal of Ajimobi-led administration to implement the N18, 000 minimum wage. Unfortunately, since then, the Ajimobi/ACN led government in the state has not only refused to meet this legitimate demand of the workers but at different time carried out various forms of despotic actions against thousands of workers in the state. This was purposely to intimidate them from continuing the agitation for the implementation of N18000 minimum wage as well as other improvement in working conditions. For instance, thousands of teachers and local government workers were sacked without due process. 

We hereby call on the state leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to come out with a program of action including mass sensitization, strike and mass protest for immediate and unconditional payment of the new minimum wage to Oyo state workers.

We hold that it is the long years of corruption and monumental failure of successive governments to invest the collective and stupendous resources of the state on the needs of the people and infrastructure that has made the beautification project fa├žade of the current administration at strategic places while the inner and interior roads are in deplorable condition to be considered “unprecedented” achievement. But to us in SPN, such beautification projects given the resources at the disposal of the state is not enough to  justify  the non- implementation of N18,000 minimum wage for Oyo State workers as well as undue daily assaults, extortion and other repressive actions on small traders and artisans in the state.

As a matter of fact, we of SPN do not approve of the situation where people trade either on the road sides or the streets. It is however the failure of the successive capitalist governments in the state and nationally \to use the resources of the society for the benefit of the working people that has created ugly conditions whereby working people are forced to be selling or trading on the road sides.

We strongly hold that the working people and the poor are not the centerpiece of Senator Abiola Ajimobi developmental plan of road construction and beautification project. This explains why there is no provision for alternative or adequate compensations before the implementation of the so-called urban renewal policy of ACN-led government. After all, the UPN-led government in Oyo State in 1983 made sure it built new Gbagi and Aleshinloye markets before traders moved away from the roads as well as old Gbagi market.
Unfortunately, since UPN (which ACN claims to be their progenitor) became defunct in 1983 and out of government as a result of military coup, all pro-capitalist governments, both military and civilian, in the state have collectively failed regardless of political parties to add a single market to the existing ones while the number of traders in the state has manifold increased .

The argument of the ACN spokespersons that, “why should Senator Abiola Ajimobi be expected to provide alternative or compensation to victims of either demolished or destroyed shops/stalls and goods when those structures were actually illegal” is an expression of the crass anti-working people character of Senator Abiola Ajimobi-led government in the state.

In light of this we strongly condemn the continued use of some gangs of uniformed thugs, the volunteers of Youth Empowerment Scheme of Oyo popularly known as YES-O; Special police squad known as Operation Burst and policemen to brutally subject thousands of small traders and artisans at different areas of Ibadan and Ogbomosho to all forms of harassment and physical assault under the guise of beautification and cleaning-up project. 

Therefore, while demanding adequate investment of the collective of the resources of the state in building low-cost markets for poor traders as well as basic social services like education, health care, we are conscious of the fact that as long as the political scene is dominated by pro-capitalist political parties like ACN, PDP, APGA, ACCORD, LP, CPC, etc the needs and aspirations of the working masses will always be negotiated for greed of a few thieving pro-capitalist politicians.

We therefore call on workers, students, unemployed youths and artisans among others to join us in building SPN as a genuine socialist alternative to the vicious cycle of misery and nightmare of current iniquitous, anti-poor capitalist system being represented and defended by all capitalist governments including Ajimobi/ACN led government in Oyo State.

The government formed by SPN in Oyo state shall base itself on socialist programme of massive investment of resources on social services and public works with democratic control of the working people in order to guarantee provision of quality education, health care, housing, roads, markets, etc for the benefit of the working people.  This also includes a measure that all elected and appointed political officers of the SPN shall be taking the wages of civil servants and commit the rest of bloated pay to community and workers movements. 

      Abbey Trotsky
 Oyo State Secretary,
Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN)
          08033914091

     

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

JONATHAN'S DECLARATION OF STATE OF EMERGENCY:


AN EXPRESSWAY TO ATTACKS ON DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS!
FOR DEMOCRATIC MASS WORKING PEOPLES' DEFENCE COMMITTEES

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) sees the imposition of the state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe as another wrong step taken by the President Jonathan government in its so-called war against terrorism. Even if it curtails the violence that has admittedly taken over the North Eastern part of the country over the last 3 years in the short term, this is bound to be just a temporary respite. Far from a solution, this declaration of state of emergency which is another name for a brutal and indiscriminate military clampdown will most definitely, especially in the medium and long term, lead to the escalation of the conflict to an unimaginable proportion. 

This is because just like other strong arm measures taken by the government in the last 3 years, this new step fails to seek an efficient solution to the root cause of violent extremism which is only possible by resolving the crisis of poverty amidst plenty, absence of social infrastructures and the alarming wealth inequality in Nigeria which constitutes the fertile soil of alienation upon which violent extremism flourishes and is reinforced.
Besides, the consequence of a state emergency, which according to the President means deployment of more military forces, is the intensification of the on-going militarisation of the country under the guise of fighting Boko Haram terrorists. We recall that the special military squad (Joint Task Force), which is more notorious for attacks on democratic rights of the innocent working people than exchanges of fires with Boko Haram insurgents, has been in the region for the past years. We therefore hold that the emergency proclamation is nothing more than deployment of more troops and tanks to the states and further curtailment of democratic rights. It is indeed instructive that the proclamation of state of emergency came few weeks after the massacre of about 200 innocent civilians in Baga in just one day by soldiers. This shows what the state of emergency has in stock for the ordinary people of the affected areas. 

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) is completely opposed to the reactionary activities of terror groups like Boko Haram. We are indeed against any act or method of individual terrorism in the struggle against policies and conducts of the thieving ruling elites. But as we have aptly stated in our last statement on the Baga massacre, the root cause of the Boko Haram insurgency, as well as other violent crises in other parts of the country, some of which were stated by President in his speech, is the unresolved nationality question as well as the widespread discontent over issues of poverty, unemployment, homelessness and the unbridled corruption of the capitalist ruling elite in a country endowed with vast oil and mineral wealth. Brutal military and police clampdown cannot resolve this crisis, it will only escalate it. It should not be forgotten that the 2009 killing of Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf after he had been arrested and paraded before the media only served to strengthen the group. The truth of the matter is that this government, firmly rooted in defending the current capitalist system, cannot resolve the underlying economic and social causes of Nigeria's crisis while, as part and parcel of the systematic looting of the country, is incapable of maintaining democratic rights.

Though now on much bigger scale, we recall that this not the first time that a state of emergency has been declared on some parts of the North by Jonathan administration. Since December 2011, 15 local council areas cutting across 4 states including Yobe and Borno (others are Niger and Plateau) have been under intensive military invasion and occupation as a result of state of emergency but without being able to rein in the activities of Boko Haram. We hold that while this current military expedition and offensive in the northeast could temporarily tame the situation, but as examples in Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, etc show it cannot effectively stamp out insurgent and terrorist activities so long as the fundamental cause of the problem is not addressed. Besides, the news reports have revealed that the crackdown in the northeast has started provoking surge in terrorist activities in other parts of the north.

It is also instructive to warn that the state of emergency, which arrogates power to the military, subjugates the civilian authorities and suppresses democratic rights in the affected states, is an open invitation, albeit inadvertently, to the military adventurers to take political power in the country. It has given the impression of the incapacity of the civil rule to tackle and overcome the security challenges in the country. 

Therefore, against its support for military offensive under the guise of state of emergency, we urge the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress to support our demand for formation of democratic mass defence committees at workplaces, communities and streets under the democratic control of the trade unions and mass organizations of poor farmers and working people as the first step in confronting the menace of Boko Haram and other terror groups. Such democratic defence committees involving the working class people, poor farmers and youths and cutting across all ethnic or religious divides will have the duty to patrol and maintain security both day and night, carry out surveillance and investigations necessary to identify terrorists or criminals and mobilize en-masse to liquidate them. 

It is only if Labour leads such an approach that it can be possible to begin to tackle the Boko Haram menace in a pro-working peoples' manner that can also prevent a nationwide descent into bloody ethnic and religious strife. The reality is that the JTF, which has been behaving as army of occupation and now that they have been further empowered with martial law to suppress democratic rights, cannot endear themselves to the ordinary people whose support is a major requirement to defeat Boko Haram. 

Having said the above, the SPN is also particularly in sympathy with rank and file soldiers, police and other working class members of the armed and security forces who are also victims of terrorist violence created as a result of the policies of the corrupt Nigeria's ruling elite. The SPN stands with rank and file soldiers and police, many of whom are poorly paid yet have bled and died in the discharge of their duties. We urge the labour movement to issue a public appeal to the rank and file troops not to turn their arms against the ordinary people under the guise of fighting Boko Haram and refuse to attack the on democratic rights of the working people. This however requires that the activities of the police and armed forces have to be subjected to democratic control of the elected representatives of the affected communities. Labour should also show interest in the welfare and condition of the police and armed forces by leading the demand for the rank and file police and other armed forces to belong to or form trade unions through which they can agitate for living wage and better conditions. 

Also imperative is for the labour movement to come up with a programme of action that recognizes the undemocratic nature of the founding of Nigeria as well as the condition of exploitation and mass poverty that a majority of the population is confronted with as the fundamental causes of the rising spate of ethno-religious violence in the country. This is important as a step towards curbing or totally stopping the menace of Boko Haram and other terror groups. Such a programme will have to include the trade union movement building nationwide mass campaigns and actions involving strikes and mass protests that can unite working masses and poor youth across the country to struggle against such issues as unemployment, homelessness, education commercialisation, non-payment of a living wage and the capitalist system that breeds inequality and chaos.
The escalation of ethno-religious crisis in the country must be a wakeup call on the labour movement and pro-working peoples' organisations to lead the campaign for the urgent convocation of independent Sovereign National Conference (SNC), not at the permission of the government, with the full democratic representation of the working class, the youths, ethnic groups etc. that would have the primary aim of debating whether or not Nigeria ought to be one and, if yes, on what terms and conditions. In essence, the much touted unity of Nigeria should be democratically negotiated and not taken for granted.

Labour must realise that the rapid deterioration of the situation is a dire warning of how Nigeria's crisis can quickly worsen the ethno-religious divisions, and the repressive measures that can be implemented by the government. Labour needs to act now and not throw away opportunities like they did most recently with the January 2012 mass protest and general strike.

Only the working masses of Nigeria can unite the country through joint struggle against the ruling elite. There can be no confidence in this government which has, like its predecessors, acted to defend the power and wealth of the elite. It has hardly "punished" the looters wrecking the country while at the same time being prepared to suppress civil rights, like banning the "Fuelling Poverty" documentary film on the January 2012 general strike. To prevent total ruin, the labour movement needs to come out fully as a social force that can lead Nigerians out of the mess and chaos created by the ruling elite by convening such an independent Sovereign National Conference (SNC) and building a mass working peoples political party that can implement the resolutions of such a conference by taking political power from the corrupt ruling elite and forming a workers and poor people's government on socialist programme. As a clear step towards the formation of such a mass party we call on workers, youths and the poor to join in building the Socialist Party of Nigeria. 

Segun Sango
Protem National Chairperson
Socialist Party of Nigeria