A vision lacking in truth and reality
By Victor Osakwe
The present PDP government led by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua came to power on 29 May, 2007 after a fraudulent election that all election monitors described as the worst ever witnessed in any party of the world. Yet, the ruling class struck to the fraudulent election results and even rubber-stamped them at the tribunals. The poor working masses remained calm because there is no political alternative to fight for. The high point of the Musa Yar’Adua government is seven-point agenda. The government has highlighted the areas of energy, security of lives and properties, land reforms, human capital development, wealth creation, poverty alleviation, transportation and infrastructural development as the areas where it hopes to work on in order to advance Nigerian to one of the first twenty economies of the world by the year 2020, hence the name Vision 2020.
A year and some months after the advent of the regime, we await any meaningful development in all the areas highlighted by the regime. Development, if any, is rather slow and far between. First and foremost, since the government came to power, a detailed plan of how it intends to move the country forward in that direction has been lacking. The only important thing that has been done since the regime came into power was the initial reversal of the privatization of the nation’s refineries and increase in the price of fuel. Today, the regime is already contemplating increase in the price of fuel using same arguments as its predecessors.
In the field of power supply, it has been a tale of fluctuating fortunes from total darkness and incessant power cut. The Minister of power and steel recently announced a fall in power supply from the meagre 3,000 megawatts to 2,700 megawatts instead of a continuous increase to meet the needs of Nigerian economy as a steppingstone towards vision 2020 goal. It is therefore necessary to say electricity is still as epileptic as ever. A probe of the contracts awarded by the previous regime in the electricity sector has been dogged by disagreement and fighting between members of the PDP in the House of Representatives over the release of the report. It is even being speculated that the initial amount of $16billion reportedly squandered by the previous regime of Olusegun Obasanjo on the power contract has been reduced to $6.2billion and yet no visible impact in that sector has been recorded. This, itself puts paid to the anti-corruption record of the government of Musa Yar’Adua.
In the areas of security of lives and property, poverty alleviation, human capital development and wealth creation, it seems as if people in government and their supporters are living in another world. Everyday, Nigerians are inundated with news of armed robbery attacks, collapse of buildings, intra-party conflicts, kidnappings and militant attacks in the Niger Delta, etc, which have left many dead and scores maimed. The recent militarization of the Niger Delta and the subsequent request for help by the government for assistance to quell the rising militancy in the Niger Delta from the major imperialist powers, France, Great Britain and the USA, is a clear testimony that the President Musa Yar’Adua’s government lacks any solution to the problems of the country.
Despite the huge amount of cash being received by government from crude oil sales, it has succeeded in only creating wealth for only a few members of the society rather than improving the general well-being of Nigerians. This is no thanks to its increasing application and deepening of the neo-liberal policies of the previous regime of Olusegun Obasanjo, who succeeded in bringing him to power.
Despite the promise by the government that oil “subsidy” will be maintained, regardless of the increase in the cost of crude oil in the international market, kerosene and diesel used for domestic cooking and industrial alternative power generation respectively are sold far above the real prices stipulated by it and yet, there is no end in sight. Who then is benefiting from the so-called subsidy in the sale of these products – the government or the private consortiums that are licensed to import the products or both?
One of the areas in which Nigerians have been yearning for change has been transportation and infrastructural development. Before the advent of this regime, roads and other infrastructures have mostly dilapidated. Nigerians, who have been moving from one part of the country to another and even within their respective states and local governments, are aware of the state of the road and other means of transportation. The railway system as a means of transportation has collapsed long ago with no plan to revive it, at least, back to its previous level. The recent collapse of a tanker in Lagos, laden with fuel, and the subsequent death of people as a result of the explosion of the tanker is as a result of the bad roads. This has been replicated all over the country. Pipeline vandalisation is as a result of the inability of the government at various levels to alleviate poverty, create wealth and distribute to the majority of the population and finally, develop the human capital available in the country. Need we say more to point at the negative slide at which the country is moving to and for how long can we wait to begin to feel the effect of the seven point agenda of this present regime of Umar Musa Yar’Adua.
Labour and pro-masses organisations organised under LASCO should evolve campaigns to put demands on the government to commit public resources to the provision of housing, electricity, water, good road rail transport etc. Such campaigns have to be started at communities, local government, state and federal level.
However, as revolutionary socialists, we know and have always emphasized the fact that adequate development of the economy and satisfaction of the basic needs and aspirations of the working people are goals that would remain unattainable under capitalism, especially in its ferocious, neo-liberal form that places the interest of profit and individual capitalist above every other consideration.
Neo-liberalism, a virulent form of capitalism and its international form â€“ imperialism â€“ can only worsen the problems faced by the teeming populace of our country. Instead of improving the living standards of our people, it makes life more intolerable and therefore escalating the crisis that is already afflicting the majority of our people.
A socialist society will create an impetus for growth and also distribute the wealth that will be created by the people. It will wipe out hunger, disease, poverty, crime, etc, while at the same time, develop the mental capacity of all Nigerians through its free education and make healthcare available to all members of the society, whether you have the ability to pay or not. This is in contrast to the situation where those who have the wealth have at their disposal better educational facilities and better medical facilities and better living conditions. Our inability to seek for a socialist change will continue to make us remain at the present situation we are in. The condition for a socialist change is already there, and in some cases, over-ripe. Only a socialist Nigeria could meet the target for economic development, without it the 2020 will come to meet the masses in worse conditions.