Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Lagos SPN General Meeting discusses tasks ahead of the working people

Lagos State Chapter of the Socialist Party of Nigeria held its General Meeting on 26th September, 2015 and deliberated extensively on the current political situation and the tasks ahead.  The meeting which was chaired by Emmanuel Adikwu, Deputy National Chairman(North-Central) of the Socialist Party of Nigeria took a report by Chinedu Bosah, the National Secretary of the Socialist Party of Nigeria of the ongoing court matter by the Socialist Party of Nigeria against the Independent National Electoral Commission. Chinedu reported that as at the last adjourned date of the court matter, the Independent National Electoral Commission applied for out-of-court settlement. However, INEC has not taken any practical steps to settle the matter since the last adjourned date. He further reported that October 12, 2015 has been fixed by the court for the hearing of the application by the Socialist Party of Nigeria, with the expectation that the court will adjourn for judgment, which presumably going by precedents would be in favour of the Socialist Party of Nigeria.

On the tasks ahead, Ayo Ademiluyi highlighted the fact that two major interventions are ahead of comrades.  He raised the fact that a Special Leaflet of the Lagos SPN is in production for mass leafleting and tabling on October 1, 2015 in Ajegunle and Agege branches. He also raised the possibility of having placards on the refugee crisis and working people’s political alternative for the tabling on October 1, 2015. The second intervention is on October 12, 2015 which is the next adjourned date of the   SPN court matter. He raised the possibility of marching to a broadcast television station.   Responding to the submission, Chinedu raised the possibility of also visiting a print medium on the same day.

The meeting dovetailed into Political Discussion. Chinedu Bosah took the Nigerian Perspective on Nigeria at 55: Where now for the Working People?.   Chinedu submitted that 55 years after Nigeria’s flag independence, nothing has fundamentally changed for the mass of the working people. He raised the fact that this is despite the prevailing mass illusion in the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress Federal Government of Nigeria with his mantra of “change”. He indicated that this is also reflected in the disposition of the trade union leaders who are not posing any serious alternative agenda to the policies and statements of the Buhari-led regime. He submitted further that the illusions in Buhari offer the trade union leaders temporary diversion of pressure from themselves in posing the agenda for the future of the working people.  He indicated that the Buhari regime has made it known that it would continue the neo-liberal attacks laid by the Jonathan regime. The most spectacular is the planned privatization of the health sector. He submitted that the absence of a genuine working people’s political alternative is yawning. This is despite the recent hand-over of the Certificate of Registration of the Labour Party by the former Chairman of the party to the labour leaders. He argued that the “Corbyn situation” of a major left or pro-working masses pole of attraction does not exist for now in the Nigerian Labour Party as it is happening in the British Labour Party. He called for the struggle for the registration of the SPN to be intensified.

Giving a lead-off on the international situation,Ayo Ademiluyi pin-pointed the recent events in Britain, which have seen the emergence of a left-leaning Member of Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Leader. He argued that this opened up a “civil war” inside the Labour Party with a ferocious battle going on for the control of the party between the right-wing forces which are still dominantly in the Parliamentary Group and the hundreds of local councilors. He informed that the Socialist Party, the   British section of the Committee for a Workers’ International to which the Democratic Socialist Movement, the promoter of the Socialist Party  of Nigeria is affiliated to, has called on Jeremy Corbyn to call an open conference of trade unions within and outside the Labour Party, his growing layers of supporters and other left forces to build a mass defence against the right-wing in the Labour Party.

He raised the fact that the capitalists in Britain now dread the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonell, the  left-leaning Shadow Chancellor forming government after the next general elections. While Corbyn himself may not be prepared to ditch the Labour right-wing as he even appointed some of them into his Shadow Cabinet, the possibility of a socialist Prime Minister in Britain is a spectre haunting the ruling class. He informed that a top military shot has indicated that the army may intervene as a socialist Prime Minister would be a security threat.  In other words, the ruling class may travel the Bonapartist road to stop the mass radicalization in Britain.

Ayo submitted that it appears that the genie is out of the bottle of the capitalists. While Corbyn has added his voice to the call for refugees fleeing into Europe from the war and crisis in the Middle East, the refugee crisis remains unabated. Ayo indicated that the refugee crisis is a backlash of the imperialist intervention in Iraq, Libya and Iran. This is also what led to the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with its rampaging attacks on ordinary people. He informed that thousands of people have flooded the streets in Europe to support the refugees who are being battered at the borders of Crotia, Serbia, Greece and Macedonia and raised the need for socialists in Nigeria to join the international solidarity struggle.

He also highlighted the developments in the United States where in  the run-up to the 2016 elections, on the Democrats’ field, Bernie Sanders, arguably the only “socialist” in the United States’ Congress has become a pole of attraction for young people and workers like Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom, especially after the e-mail controversy that beset the Hilary Clinton campaign. He argued that it is doubtful whether the Democrats would hand Bernie Sanders the Democrats’ ticket as they are preparing Joe Biden, Obama’s Vice-President    to step into the arena as Hilary’s campaign come under heavy blows. He raised the fact that the Socialist Alternative(CWI co-thinkers in US) have raised the call that Bernie Sanders should draw the correct conclusions if denied the Democrats’ ticket and run as an Independent just like Rafael Nader.

On the Republicans’ field, he submitted that the fact that  a war-mongering ultra-right figure, Donald Trump tops the favourites show the ultra-right build-up as a backlash of the frustration after the mass illusions sown into the Obama regime, which  has   been betrayed. He opined that it also indicates the mass political alienation of broad layers of the working people from the electoral process. He indicated that the fact the Democrats are being ridiculed by Republican aspirants as having a “socialist” as their top contender(in reference to Bernie Sanders)   as a left-ward shift of the issues in the debate with the huge support that the campaign of Bernie Sanders is receiving.

Coming to the Nigerian situation, Ayo indicated that just as mass illusions in Obama were betrayed, the prevailing current mass illusions in Buhari would be betrayed as long as the regime operates within the precincts of capitalism. He made reference to the events in Osun State, where almost regular mass protests taking place by workers, secondary school students and tertiary institutions’ students against the Aregbesola’s  APC-led  regime. He submitted that the Osun scenario is a mirror of the coming mass fightback that will implode in the face of the Buhari-led Federal Government when its fails to deliver on all the expectations of the working masses. He concluded that this raises the need for genuine socialists to prepare strategically for this coming mass radicalization by getting the Socialist Party of Nigeria both legally and politically ready for the battles ahead and deepening the campaign for a mass working peoples’ party

In response to both lead-offs, Odunayo Eniayekan, who attended the meeting from Ota, Ogun State submitted that there is a great prospect for the work of the Socialist Party of Nigeria in the coming period if it is deepened. The meeting ended on a renewed vigour to fight to conclusion the struggle for the registration of the Socialist Party of Nigeria.                             

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

OYO STATE: The Claim that the “Bailout is not enough to clear debts” cannot be true!

*Oyo state leadership of the NLC and TUC must pull out of any discussion with state government to cut salaries of the civil servant*

*The state monthly resources can pay salary of public workers and implement tangible project for the populace if political office holders collect salaries and allowances equivalent to that of civil servants*

The Oyo State Chapter of Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, disagrees with the Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the Oyo State Governor, over a statement credited to him as reported in various print and electronic media that the bailout fund recently made available to his regime is not enough to offset the salaries and pensions arrears of public workers and retirees in the state respectively. This is at variance with the statement credited to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, while directing all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) involved in negotiations with state governments to pay the money into the salary accounts of the workers.

According to Thisday newspaper, published on the 6th September, 2015, the CBN explained that “a specific figure was attached to the facilities to be disbursed to the state because every state is expected to come with its specific needs to settle the backlog of salary arrears to access the facility from the commercial banks”. Going by this background, it is obvious that all the states which requested the bailout fund (Oyo state inclusive) were expected to submit the exact figure that will be needed to offset the backlog of salary and pension arrears in their respective state.

That Senator Ajimobi is now claiming that the bailout fund is not enough after the approval N26 billion to the state cannot only be untrue but also suspected as another technical trick by the APC-led government in the state to divert the bailout fund for another purpose different from the one the fund is meant for. It must be noted that the state was plunged into this embarrassing state where is owing its workforce and retirees many months of salary and pension respectively not only because of the decline in the monthly allocation but largely as a result of prolificacy and financial recklessness of APC-led government like other pro- capitalist governments across the country.

The argument that the entire N3.2 billion monthly allocations the state receives from the Federal Government (FG) and N1.2billion claimed it generates as internally generated revenue (IGR) is being spent only on the N5.2 billion wage bill of state workers which was claimed is 100,000 is divisive. It is a way to incite the rest of the oppressed strata of the society, who have also benefited little or nothing over the years owing to the self-serving agenda of successive governments in the state regardless of political parties, against the public workers in the state.

It could be true that wage bill for 100,000 public workers as claimed by the governor in his media chat is N5.2billion. But it cannot be true that the entire 100,000 workforce are strictly state workers whose salaries are paid only from the allocation to the state government. The last biometric verification conducted by the same Ajimobi-led government in 2011 showed that only 28,000 workers received their salaries from the allocation meant for the state government. Going by this background, one is left with no option than to suspect that the remaining 72,000 out of the 100,000 workers declared by the APC-led government are workers in primary schools and local government whose salaries and allowance are paid through Federal government and allocation meant for the local government respectively.

Since the APC-led government in addition to its own statutory monthly allocation has been receiving the local government monthly allocation from the FG partly due to its conscious refusal to allow election at the 33 local government areas in the state, SPN holds that the claim that the entire 100,000 workers is paid solely from the N3.2billion received by the state government is untrue and deceptive.

The SPN therefore challenges the APC-led government to public declare how much it has received from the federal government on behalf of the local governments in the state.
We also frown at any consideration as being declared by the governor for cutting the salary and allowance of civil servant in the state. 

We hold that any attempt to cut the salary of workers who were denied any significant economic gain in the period of boom will amount to a serious economic injustices and jeopardy. It must be resisted by workers and labour leaders. 

Despite the decline in the oil revenue, SPN believes that Oyo state government has the capacity to pay workers in the state and still implement tangible projects capable of bringing meaning improvement in the condition of living of the people of the state.

This is however possible only if the political office holders are ready to cut down their outrageously high salaries and allowances as well as opulent life style with a view to adopt a lifestyle that will be equivalent to that of the working people. The state must also stop corrupt practices, wastages and inflation of contracts, high cost of governance in order to free up resources for developmental projects and wellbeing of the citizenry.

It is in the light of this that the SPN calls on the state leadership NLC and TUC to pull out of any discussion Senator Ajimobi claimed he is having with them over the possibility of cutting the salary and 4allowance of workers in the state. Rather, the state labour leadership should be prepared to fight for a new minimum wage in the face of high inflation and increasing cost of living once the national leadership table a specific demand on the federal government. However, they should immediately kick start the process of mobilising workers and the entire poor strata in the state in a preparation to resist all forms of attacks on the living condition and democratic right which the Senator Ajimobi had promised to launch on the 1st of October 2015 under the pretence of improving IGR from N1.2billion to N2.6billion by 2016 and abolishing of street trading.

It is not true that street trading is the cause of heaps of dirty that are now the major feature of many towns and cities in the state. It is the manifestation of poor funding and corruption in the ministry of environment! To curb this will mean that the state government should start the adequate and proper funding of ministry of environment and which must be under a democratic control of the elected representatives of the workers, community and the government functionaries. Awarding public resources to contractor friends under the pretence of waste management or disposal breeds corruption, and it has to be stopped!

Abbey Trotsky
Secretary, SPN Oyo State