TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE HELD ON DECEMBER 7 BY THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF NIGERIA (SPN) IN REACTION TO THE COURT JUDGMENT OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT DIRECTING INEC TO REGISTER THE PARTY
As you may already be aware, a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole in a judgment delivered on Tuesday November 28, 2017 ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to register the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) within thirty (30) days.
We of the SPN welcome this judgment, which confirms our democratic and legitimate right to freedom of association as a political party for the main purpose of participating in the electoral and governance processes on the basis of socialist ideas and programmes as our name clearly indicates.
It would be recalled that the SPN had on September 10, 2014 instituted a case at the Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging INEC's undemocratic refusal to register the party despite fulfilling all constitutional and legal requirements including the payment of INEC-imposed One Million Naira (N1,000,000.00) administrative fees.
While we welcome the judgment, we hold that it is a sad commentary on the judicial system that a seemingly straight forward case lasted over three years. This is due to the systemic problem in the nation's judiciary in addition to the delay tactics of the INEC. We call on the government to adequately fund the judiciary, just as we campaign for a more democratic and vibrant judicial system that defends the majority, especially working people, youth and the poor who constitute the vast majority of our population, but are mostly the victims of injustice and defective judicial system.
SPN extends its gratitude to Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika and the Citipoint Chambers for rendering legal services at no cost to the party. We equally congratulate all party members, sympathizers and collaborators for their supports, steadfastness and persistent campaigning thus far. This victory is for the long suffering working masses, who are yearning for a viable, genuine and radical political alternative as well as a better society.
We hereby call on INEC to issue SPN its certificate without delay so that concrete party work including mobilizing the mass of the people towards genuine working class oriented transformation of Nigeria can begin in earnest. SPN is prepared to be a robust and effective opposition to the pro-rich and anti-poor political parties in power at all levels. At the moment there is no opposition in Nigeria because the two biggest parties, APC and PDP, embraces the same neo-liberal and anti-poor policies. We are equally poised to play a role in forthcoming elections both in the states as well as the 2019 general elections as a credible political alternative to all those who are disenchanted with the status quo and desire a different kind of politics.
INEC has already wasted enough time; it should not further serve as a clog in the wheel of progress. The court order should be immediately complied with by INEC. Nigerian working people cannot wait any longer to have the party that represents their long term interests on the ballot.
Furthermore, we call on workers, trade unionists, activists, students, traders, journalists, unemployed, artisans, pro-labour organizations to join and build the SPN across the length and breadth of this country. We are building a party that stands for millions of people and not for the looters.
Hence, we are committed to challenging the present capitalist arrangement that has made live unbearable for majority of the population, despite the stupendous natural, agricultural, human and material resources in the country, and the world. Meanwhile, the rich few continue to live in superabundance and wasteful opulence. This is the product of capitalist political economic relation. It is this obviously unjust arrangement that SPN wants to challenge through mass mobilization of the working people, youth and the oppressed to effect radical political change through democratic processes, with a view to implementing socialist programmes.
WHAT SPN STANDS FOR IN BRIEF
The condition of living for the vast majority of Nigerians has become increasingly difficult due to rising cost of living and massive job losses. The resultant effect of this rising cost of living is growing poverty. This is an indictment of the Buhari/APC-led government and all previous capitalist governments.
Instead of meeting the aspirations of the people, the Buhari government is committed to capitalism and its agencies, the IMF and World Bank, whose anti-poor policies of privatization, deregulation and cuts in social spending are responsible for our woes.
As a political party, we are all out to offer and campaign for a socialist alternative. Our core agenda is to defend and protect the socio-economic and political interest of workers and the poor masses in general.
- SPN is committed to reversing all anti-people policies of privatization, commercialization, deregulation etc., and in its place, the commanding heights of the economy starting with the oil and gas industry, banks and financial institutions will be nationalized and placed under democratic control of workers and consumers in order to end corruption and bring about efficiency. This socio-economic plan is geared towards meeting the needs of all as against the profit of a privileged few as we presently have it.
- Hence we shall reverse the privatization of public electricity and place it under democratic public control. We shall increase power generation exponentially and ensure stable supply of cheap electricity to home and industry, pursue and recover all public monies which has been given to the private owners of electricity and put to trial all those responsible for the stealing of our public wealth through different guises.
- SPN is committed to massive public expenditure in basic infrastructures and social services like transport system, education, healthcare, mass housing, technology, water supply, etc., in order to create jobs on a massive scale. We shall immediately declare public education and healthcare free at all levels. We shall do all these by mobilisation and judicious use of the resources and also by not enriching few contractors through fictitious and wasteful contract system. We shall establish and equip a democratically-managed public work department, which will undertake most of public projects. Contracting will only be used where there is obvious lack of capacity (technical and otherwise) of the public work department.
- We are committed to reducing jumbo salaries and allowances of top political office holders and top bureaucrats to salary of public workers. All revenue saved by this reduction will be invested in basic infrastructures.
- Besides, our party will implement living wage and pension. We support the N56, 000 minimum wage declared by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and we want it increased in line with the inflationary rate. Hence, we demand an end to unpaid salary/pension regime in the culpable states that has further pauperized the workers.
- SPN is committed to progressive taxation and shifting the tax burden from the poor to the rich. Therefore, the wealth and assets of the super-rich will be taxed heavily. If the rich can spend hundreds of millions of naira to procure properties they hardly use or use for luxury, they should be able to pay heavy tax on them. We do not need to rely on philanthropy of the rich few to run our society; we need them to pay their socially fair share of tax on the wealth and assets acquired through the sweat of working people, and at the expense of the society.
- SPN stands for the protection of democratic rights including the rights of all minority groups and ethnic nationalities. This also includes the right to assemble and speech, freedom of movement, freedom to reside anywhere of choice, freedom to hold opinions and expression. We are committed to the unity of the working masses, respect the cultural, linguistic and religious rights of minorities but recognize the right of all peoples to self-determination.
- The Party will fight corruption by running an open transparent administration and governance by bringing the mass of the people into governance to checkmate bureaucracy, nepotism and cronyism. Elected representatives of workers, community, social groups, alongside government representatives will transparently and democratically run administration at all levels.
- SPN stands for a genuine politics that is not monetized. Therefore, there will not be special privileges, especially monetary, for officials of the party, either within the party or in public offices. Contrary to other political parties, the SPN does not require party members to pay fees in order to stand for SPN party positions or nominations. But we will require any SPN members elected to public positions to take the wage of a worker, along with necessary expenses, and donate the rest of their wages and allowances to SPN and workers' movement.
- Immediately the SPN will be campaigning for payment of all salary and pension arrears; an increase in the minimum wage with no retrenchment; no electricity price hike and an increase in the education and health budgets.
Deputy National Chairperson