Friday, 18 August 2017

SPN CONDEMNS ATTACK ON “RESIGN OR RESUME” PROTESTERS AT WUSE MARKET IN ABUJA


Attack shows ruling party intent on repressing all criticism with extreme measures
For the Unity of Working and Poor People in Struggle against Anti-Poor Policies

PRESS STATEMENT

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the recent Wuse market attack on the #OurMumuDonDo movement led by popular entertainer Charles Oputa (Charly Boy) that was organizing protest actions around Abuja to call on ailing President Muhammadu Buhari to either “Resume or Resign”. We consider this attack, which is a follow up to the unwarranted police attack on the protesters at the Unity Fountain on 9 August 2017, as a clear indication of the ruling All Progressive Congress’s (APC) intent to repress all criticism of the Buhari administration with extreme measures.

We call on the labour movement and working people’s organizations to also speak up and condemn the attack because it portends grave dangers for the struggles of the working people in general.

The vicious attack occurred on Tuesday 15 August 2017 when Charly Boy and his group marched in protest to Wuse market calling for ailing President Buhari’s resumption or resignation. Victims of the attack included the protesters as well as journalists. This attack raises fear about how fast Nigeria is being turned into a banana republic where any criticism of the ruling party and the administration of President Buhari are considered as a crime punishable by complete character assassination, blackmail or death.

To be clear, the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) does not necessarily agree with Charly Boy and his group that the resignation of President Buhari and replacement by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo would resolve any of the socio-economic problems afflicting the working and toiling people of this country. This is because even if Buhari resigns today, it is Acting President Osinbajo who would take over which means that fundamentally the same neo-liberal and anti-poor policies which are the hallmark of the Buhari administration would be the order of the day. 

For us in the SPN, the entire anti-poor Buhari/Osinbajo government and the inequitable capitalist economic system upon which it is based deserves to be overthrown and replaced by a workers and poor people’s government armed with clear socialist programmes. But this does not mean that Charly Boy and others who hold that opinion have no right to express it or should be prevented or assaulted while doing so.

As far as we are concerned, citizens have a right to ask questions not just about government policies but also about the conducts, actions and the health conditions of political office holders including that of President Buhari whose medical bill in London is being footed by tax payers. 

Indeed, we are of the strong believe that all citizens have a right to voice their opinion and protest any injustice and in any part of the country. Charly Boy and his group equally enjoy this right just as every other Nigerian. Therefore if anyone had any opposition to the issues and demands around which Charly Boy and his group have been organizing and protesting over the past few days, all they need to do is to organize a peaceful counter protest to push forward their own opinion. This is how real and genuine democracy should work. Otherwise a dangerous precedent would be set which would only result in the complete asphyxiation of freedom of expression and other basic democratic rights of the Nigerian people and of course the restoration of despotism disguised in civilian robes.

In our opinion, the ruling party and the government should be held responsible for the attack. The attack did not just occur. Grounds for it had been prepared by the hostile reactions of the Presidency to the protesters which denigrated and blackmailed them in sponsored propaganda laced with ethnic connotations as anti-Buharists and sponsored opposition agents. Indeed not only did the ruling party and its agents later sponsored several of their own pro-Buhari protests guarded and shepherded by mounted police, the action of the police on 9 August 2017 which without any provocation whatsoever tear-gassed the “Resume or Resign” protesters, who were just a handful of people, while also reportedly assaulting Charly Boy himself were the green light for the mob violence that happened on Tuesday. It is in this sense that the government and the ruling party should take the blame for this occurrence. 

It is over one hundred days that President Buhari has been out on the country on health vacation. The lies and cover up around the sickness of Buhari by the government is responsible for why many people cannot take the government seriously. Because a government that wants to be taken seriously will have come up with details of the health status of President Buhari and let the whole country know the actions being taken. This might have averted much mis-information that has partly provoked the growing anger today in Nigeria which unfortunately is being channeled along ethnic lines. 

We support the right of any group to protest and also condemn attack on any group. We condemn mob actions as we do not consider it as the best way that any group of people can respond to a protest or agitation they are opposed to. Especially against the background of the rising ethnic tension across the country, such attacks that occurred at Wuse market can easily further worsen the situation. This rising ethnic tension is being fuelled by the unresolved national question and in particular the abysmal failure of the Buhari/Osinbajo government whose neo-liberal economic policies have further deepened poverty and hardship among the working class and all categories of oppressed people.

We support a united struggle of working masses and oppressed people of all regions, religions and languages to unite in fighting for improved living condition, jobs for unemployed, for new minimum wage, end to casualization and end to all forms of corruption by the top government officials. Only these demands can unite all Nigerians ravaged by poverty and unemployment irrespective of their ethnic affiliation and religion. If this kind of struggle is linked with the building of a mass workers political alternative armed with socialist programmes, it can lay the basis for a revolutionary overthrow of not just the anti-poor Buhari/Osinbajo government but also the inequitable capitalist system upon which it is based.

We call on the trade unions leaders to immediately intervene and return to the tradition by uniting the working class and oppressed people with demands that cut across all Nigerians affected by the anti-poor and neo-liberal policies of the Buhari/Osinbajo government.

We in the SPN support all genuine demands that bring working people and the poor together under a pan Nigerian movement to fight for a better life and end capitalism. We call on the leadership of trade unions and mass organizations to break away with the ruling class and build a working political alternative armed with socialist program that can end the capitalist crisis in Nigeria and the whole of Africa. 

Chinedu Bosah
National Secretary, SPN

LAGOS COUNCIL ELECTION MARRED BY IRREGULARITIES AND APATHY AS APC ‘WINS’ LANDSLIDE


For an electoral body with elected representatives of political parties, social groups and working class organisations

By Moshood Oshunfurewa
 State Secretary

The result of the recently conducted local council elections in Lagos is a not a surprise to anybody given the desperation of the ruling party using all organs of the state to win election. All Progressives Congress (APC) won all 57 Chairmanship seats, it also won 369 Councillorship seats while Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Accord Party won 4 and 3 seats respectively. This result is also the pattern across the federation, the ruling PDP won landslide in their respectively states (Gombe, Abia, Ondo and Taraba) while APC won landslide in their respective states (Lagos, Ogun, Niger, Sokoto, Adamawa, Zamfara and Yobe). 

However, the poll election was characterized by apathy and irregularities. For instance, according to Punch Newspaper of July 23, 2017, “In Ward E, Unit 13 and 17 Iru/Victoria Island of the 1469 registered voters, only about nine had been able to vote as of 1pm; also in Ward A, Unit 13 Lekki Scheme 1 Eti Osa LGA, out of 1,439 registered voters, only five voted as of 1:12pm.” According to the same report, “From Lagos Island to Ikeja, Epe to Badagry and Ikorodu to all the polling units in the state, only a handful of voters came out to exercise their civil duty.” 

Failure for the local council leaders to meet the expectations of the working masses just like the other levels of government is largely responsible for the apathy. Though, it rained heavily on the Election Day, the people would have defied the rain if they had any interest to defend. 
Elections in capitalist countries are largely unfair and undemocratic, this is more pronounced in neo-colonial countries like Nigeria. The elections are usually a proof that state apparatus are not independent and it is a tool in the hands of the ruling class to suppress and undermine the masses. The Lagos council poll shows clearly how organs of the capitalist state can be used to meet the interest of a few privileged and powerful interest considering how the Lagos House of Assembly brazenly amended the Lagos State Electoral law about three days to the election within a record time of 10 minutes and got it signed almost immediately by the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. 

The law before the amendment stated that political parties must conduct primaries and submit names of their candidates 23 days before the election. But because the APC were unable to meet this provision, the party and the government had to use the parliament to amend the law without taking into consideration some standard parliamentary procedures such as calling for public hearing, calling for input by the general public and allowing debates before a law is enacted. 

Prior to the election, the ruling parties being in control of public funds usually have a war chest to prosecute very expensive campaigns, bribe voters, do media publicity, and since the elections are heavily monetized, they usually have an edge over other parties. Hence, there is no level playing ground between the establishment capitalist parties and others. 

Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) demands a more transparent and democratic election at all levels. The leadership of the electoral body should include the elected representatives of the political parties, social groups, pro-labour organisations and working class organisations.   Other reforms should include an end to use of public funds for election campaigns/activities.

Monday, 26 June 2017

ACQUITTAL OF SARAKI BY CODE OF CONDUCT TRIBUNAL SHOWS THE LIMITATION OF CAPITALIST GOVERNMENT ANTI-CORRUPTION FIGHT


PRESS STATEMENT

After a long trial, the Code of Conduct Tribunal delivered a ruling on the No-case submission of the Defence Counsel of Senate President Bukola Saraki, which struck out all the charges filed against him. This has drawn the ire of layers of working masses and youth who are horrified with the ruling. 

For us in the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), the ruling puts a question mark on the “fight against corruption” of the Buhari-led government. While the Presidency itself has issued a statement condemning the ruling, it is clear that the Presidency cannot come to equity with unclean hands as the Secretary to the Federal Government has not been prosecuted despite a serious allegation of corruption against him. The fact is that no pro-capitalist government can sincerely and successfully fight corruption. 
 
While the entire ruling elite have unleashed attacks on the living conditions of the working masses through policies such as non-payment of salaries and pensions, failure to increase national minimum wage, hike in electricity tariff and devaluation of naira etc., they maintain their jumbo pays and opulent lifestyle. 

To truly begin to curb corruption, the outrageous salary and allowances of political holders must be reduced to an amount not higher than that of the average skilled worker. The fact that politics pays more than average 8am to 4pm jobs is not only unacceptable, it also justifies and glorifies corruption. If politics does not pay so well, the likes of Saraki, Babachir Lawal and other serial looters would have no need of elective or appointive posts. 

Also the contract system which is a conduit pipe for brazen looting of the treasury has to be scrapped. If the various departments of works are adequately equipped and staffed, there is no public works project that they cannot carry out. We also call for the scrapping of security votes and other shady allocations through which political office holders steal public resources. These together with public democratic control and management of the key sectors of the economy can ensure that corruption is significantly curbed and that governance is carried out in a more transparent manner.

For us in the SPN, we believe that labour needs to begin to mobilize the working and toiling people to challenge the government around all these issues. As a first step, we call on the labour leaders to declare a one-day warning general strike and mass protests to begin to press home the demand for a new minimum wage and payment of salary arrears.

We call for the building of the widest mass movement from below not only against the likes of Sarakis but the entire ruling elite. This also means there is the need for a mass working peoples’ party to wrest power from the thieving ruling elite in order to use the resources of the society for the benefit of the vast majority.

Working masses must place their destiny in their own hands by fighting for a working people’s government that will place the commanding heights of the economy under democratic working class control and management. We in the SPN call on the working people and youth everywhere to join us to build a mass political alternative as a step to a broad working people’s political alternative that can actualize this goal.

Chinedu Bosah
National Secretary

Friday, 23 June 2017

LAUTECH CRISIS: Workers must be vigilant over proposed forensic audit by Ajimobi government


Press Statement

The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, Oyo State Chapter warns the four existing workers’ unions (Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Non-academic Staff Union, NASU, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU and National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT) in Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomosho to be vigilant and watchful over the proposed forensic audit of LAUTECH by the Senator Ajimobi-led government of Oyo State. According to Prof. Niyi Olowofela, the state Commissioner of Education, the proposed forensic audit is one of the ways the government hopes to solve the funding issues of LAUTECH permanently.

It is a welcome development if truly the Ajimobi-led government has finally realised the need, after many months of insensitivity to the plight of LAUTECH workers and students, to permanently end the lingering crisis in LAUTECH. However, the SPN is suspicious of sincerity of the Oyo government, given how, through its commissioner of education; it has been so desperate and vociferous on the so called proposed forensic audit. This is especially when there is no empirical explanation as to how such an audit is intended to resolve the crisis of poor funding bedeviling LAUTECH. 

Therefore, a proposal of forensic audit in LAUTECH at this critical period when agitation among workers for the payment of their over 8 month salary arrears has paralysed the entire activities in the university requires a serious vigilance. This is very important because the past forensic audit specifically since the inception of Senator Ajimobi-led government in the state has often led to arbitrary dismissal and retrenchment of civil servants in the state. 

It must be recalled that it is the same KPMG, a private consultant firm, commissioned by the Oyo state government to carry out the proposed LAUTECH forensic audit that has always been in charge of various forensic audit civil servants in the state had undertaken at different occasions. Also worthy to note is the fact that the so-called forensic audit is often based on the pretence to purge the state civil service of ghost workers. Very similar to such an impression is the claim that the proposed LAUTECH forensic audit is meant to sanctify the University of a Tradition of corruption. Take for instance, is the allegation that the university administration operates over 79 different bank accounts.

 Also worthy to note, is the fact that Ajimobi-led government is known with the style of imposing forensic audit each time workers agitate for their legitimate entitlement. This is exactly what happened following the seven week strike embarked upon by Oyo State workers between June and July 2016 to demand the payment of their backlog of unpaid salaries. A forensic audit was imposed on the Oyo State civil servants under the pretence of the need to purge the system of ghost workers. But the exercise turned out to be a ploy through which hundreds of civil servants including medical doctors in the state were arbitrary dismissed on the basis of an allegation that their respective WAEC certificates are fake.

Following this development were letters sent from the WAEC office directly to the office of the Oyo State Head of Service that initial claim by the consultant firm that some WAEC certificates were fake was not true. In fact, it took this kind of official response from WAEC following efforts of the affected workers and a committee later set up by the State Chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, to discover that the investigation allegedly carried out by the KPMG prior to its recommendation, did not go beyond the fact that it allegedly hacked into the database of WAEC such that any worker whose name was not found therein was assumed to have fake WAEC certificate. This implies that all civil servants who sat for WAEC before the advent of computerisation of result by WAEC were assumed to hold fake certificate.

Unfortunately, despite all of these revelations, the Oyo State government has upheld the dismissal of the affected civil servants, including those that were exonerated on the basis of letter from WAEC, on the basis of the so called recommendation of the KPMG. Worse still, this was done without any effort to provide the affected workers with avenue for fair hearing through which they can adequately defend themselves. The most disheartening is that other category of workers who are free of the KPMG indictment are continue to groan under backlog of salaries arrears ranging between 3 and 6months. 

It is in line with this background, that SPN urges the LAUTECH workers through their unions to learn from the past precedent and unanimously demand an explanation over how exactly the so-called forensic audit would solve the problem of funding as claimed by the commissioner. Most importantly is the need for the unions to deepen the resistance against the dubious plan by the state government to drag the unions into the encumbrances surrounding financial auditing by KPMG, especially when the locus of financial policy and repository of the financial documents of the LAUTECH are the university council and administration and not the workers in the university. 

Bamigboye Abiodun(Abbey Trotsky)
State Secretary, SPN
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