Friday, 11 October 2013

SPN Condemns Police Brutality of Newly Recruited Teachers in Rivers State


Rivers State Must Give Letter of Employment to all the Teachers

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns in absolute terms, the barbaric, undemocratic and inhuman treatment of 13, 000 newly employed teachers in Rivers State by the Rivers State Command of the Nigerian Police. According to newspapers' reports, the newly employed teachers had gathered on September 25, 2013 at a stadium on the instruction of the state government to collect their letters of appointment. According to these reports, many of the teachers, including women were brutalized by men of the Nigerian Police.

This gruesome brutality on poor helpless Nigerians by the police, with direct connivance of the government, shows the level of contempt the capitalist ruling class have for the working people. It clearly reflects the fact that the different sections of the ruling elite are prepared to sacrifice the lives and future of the poor people for their blind and rabid quest for power of control over national spoil. One can imagine the frustration these poor job-seeking Nigerians, many of whom must have been subject of unemployment and poverty, must have felt with this brutality they were subjected to. As expected, in the process of getting these appointments, many of them must have been subjected to various levels of avoidable suffering and stress. To now get to the point of getting letter of employment and be chased away by the same set of people elected to protect them will be more than inhuman to these people. In a country, where more than 40 million people are unemployed, and over 150, 000 graduates are added to this list of idle hands every year; this action of the police reflects the backward and cynical manner of thinking of Nigeria's capitalist ruling elite.

The argument of the Rivers Police Command that these jobseekers were sponsored to protest against President Jonathan, to justify the brutal attack on these hapless Nigerians is at best ridiculous. We ask where it is stated that people of Nigeria cannot protest against a president they purportedly elected. Nigerians have every democratic and constitutional right to protest against any policy or action of government or government officials. This right is clearly inalienable. Therefore, the lame excuse of the Police Command that protest has been banned in the state is clearly illegal and in fact ludicrous. Interestingly, the same Police Command did not "ban" pro-Jonathan government rallies in the state. Worse still, in this particular case, the people who gathered were only there to secure jobs and not protest. Possibly, the Police Command and its political backers saw this minimal attempt at providing jobs for poor Nigerians as a 'protest' against its paymasters' mindless policies that ensure permanent unemployment.

However, we call on the state government not to use this police action as a basis to shortchange many of these job seekers, by undertaking a behind-the-door maneuvering. For instance, the government said it will find other means to resolve the issue, possibly by sending letters to those employed. This to us may lead to shortchanging of many of these jobseekers, with government officials sending letters to fewer people, and claiming the opposite; meanwhile those who could not receive letters will find no means of refuting government's claim. We demand that the list of those employed be published, and another plan must be made to openly distribute letters of appointment to those listed, with the right to seek redress by anybody who feel shortchanged in this process. Indeed, the idea of gathering jobseekers from various local governments in a particular place to get employment, pension, etc, aside subjecting the poor people to unnecessary but avoidable suffering and stress, also reflects the backward nature of Nigerian political class, where every token given to the people is used to feather political nests.

This latest onslaught on poor people in Rivers State itself is part and parcel of the attempt of the Jonathan government to create a police state, not only in Rivers State but throughout the country, if allowed, just to defend the rabid economic and political interests of its class. More than this, it is also a continuation of the long list of oppression poor people in Rivers and Nigeria are being subjected to. In the same Rivers State some months ago, the state governor had used the police to repress lecturers in the state owned university, RSUST, who protested under the banner of their union, ASUU, against the undemocratic re-appointment of an outgoing vice chancellor, which is against the extant law relating to such. In nearby Bayelsa State, the state government arrested, detained and tortured hundreds of youths who protested against lack of jobs in the state.

This continued used of brutal method of armed forces shows that the working and poor people must build a solid political alternative with a clear-cut anti-poor, democratic and socialist alternative against the blind alley the current set of capitalist politicians are plunging the country into. This alternative will mean putting the enormous wealth and resources of the society under the democratic collective ownership of the working people, and subjecting elected politicians and instrument of state to direct control of people. This is the only means of ending the regime of suffering and monumental rate of unemployment in the midst of huge resources. It is indeed the only means of ending impunity by the anti-poor ruling capitalist elite.

Segun Sango
Protem SPN National Chairperson

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