FOR MASS ACTION AGAINST CORRUPTION
FOR MASS ACTION AGAINST CORRUPTION
JAIL THE LOOTERS!
SEIZE THEIR ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH!!
Only Putting an End to the Unjust System of Capitalism can Permanently Defeat Corruption and Fully Meet the Interest of the Working Masses
On Thursday September 10, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) will hold nationwide mass rallies against corruption. Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) will participate at the rallies in Abuja and in at least three states. Below is the content of the leaflet that will be circulated at the rallies.
Every day now the media are awash with stories of corruption enquiries, people being invited for questioning by anti-corruption agencies, assets being seized and legal proceedings starting. Revelations of huge amount allegedly stolen by ministers in the immediate-past Jonathan administration is mind-boggling. Every kobo stolen by the corrupt politicians is a school, a hospital, a job and a future stolen from all of us! Therefore every reasonable Nigerian should be angry and determined to end corruption and deal decisively with all the looters!
That corruption is a major socio-economic vice in Nigeria is no news, but what appears to be new is action against the corrupt. But it is not at all certain how far this drive will go as the likelihood is that it represents an attempt to show that Buhari is doing something and a settling of personal scores.
A TOTAL WAR AGAINST ALL CORRUPT POLITICIANS WHETHER APC OR PDP!
Therefore, if Buhari is sincere, the DSM demands that the anti-corruption war should not just be directed at Jonathan’s administration and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members alone! We demand that all past administrations starting from Abdulsalami Abubakar, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan must be thoroughly probed! Aside the Abacha and Babangida regimes, some of the greatest transfer of our collective wealth into private hands occurred under these administrations! Interestingly key elements in these administrations are today Buhari’s bossom friends and advisers.
While Buhari has been touted as incorruptible and the Washington Post has named him Africa’s least corrupt leader, the same cannot be said of his party and inner circle. Many members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) are corrupt as well. For instance there have been many allegations of corruption against Bola Ahmed Tinubu and lately Raji Fashola (two key backers of Buhari) that were never given serious attention by anti-corruption agencies. Using government patronage, Tinubu has built an enormous personal empire worth billions that should be probed if truly we are to believe that Buhari’s anti-corruption stance isn’t just another hollow mantra! At the same time, many elements now in government like Bukola Saraki, the Senate President and Buhari’s inner circle have held public positions one time or the other without a probe of their activities. The DSM demands that anti-corruption agencies equally devote attention to all the elements in the ruling party and Buhari’s inner circle who are also living in unmerited opulence while the vast majority of Nigerians wallow in poverty.
It is not just individual politicians that are corrupt; many of the top bureaucrats in private and public service are billionaires out of corrupt practices. Corruption undermines the progress of any society. It increases the spate of poverty, widens inequality and increases desperation. It is partly the cause of under-development but the overwhelming beneficiaries are privileged persons in society.
Billions of dollars looted have been stashed in foreign and local banks in collaboration with local and international institutions with some of this ill-gotten wealth wasted on unwarranted princely comfort. According to World Bank, about $300 billion of Nigeria’s oil wealth has been looted in the last four decades while 75% of Nigerians live on less than a dollar per day. For instance over $20 billion have been invested on electricity in the last 10 years and yet, except for a few places mostly urban areas, darkness envelops the land. In many cases, the source of the wealth for the so-called big private investments is public resources through loot, unpaid taxes, inflated or fictitious contracts, waivers, public funds in private banks, etc. We hold that if these huge resources were invested transparently, judiciously and democratically in a planned manner, jobs on a mass scale and provision of basic infrastructure would have been the order of the day.
CAPITALISM BREEDS CORRUPTION!
Buhari was voted to power because he is seen not to be corrupt like the other pro-capitalist politicians and that he would fight corruption. The overwhelming mass of the people have the mistaken belief that corruption is the sole reason for Nigeria’s lack of basic infrastructure or development with its attendant backwardness. The reality is that we are where we are because the capitalist system engenders massive exploitation, lack of transparency, secrecy in management of funds and monstrous bureaucracy; and these are what make corruption to thrive. But fundamentally, the lack of democracy in the management of public funds sustains corruption as a tiny clique of privileged capitalist politicians and bureaucrats loot big leaving many in constant state of want, misery and poverty.
Therefore, very little will be achieved in the fight against corruption if capitalism – the very system that breeds corruption, is left intact. There is no greater corruption than the neo-liberal capitalist system of governance (privatization, deregulation, concessioning, outsourcing of jobs etc.). Under this arrangement, a lot of funds are wasted on middlemen agents/contractors and profit guaranteed for a few at the expense of needs of the working masses. Also there are jumbo allowances and salaries for a few while workers earn poverty wage. Hence, corruption is embedded in the capitalist system which is inherently iniquitous. Only the building of a movement that seeks to end capitalism and replace it with a workers and poor people’s government that takes the commanding heights of the economy into public ownership and under democratic control and management can begin to dismantle the economic basis of corruption.
HOW LABOUR SHOULD LEAD THE STRUGGLE AGAINST CORRUPTION
No doubt, the labour movement has taken a correct step in calling for nationwide mass actions against corruption. The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) supports any serious campaign against corruption. We recognize that these rallies provide an opportunity for Nigerian workers, youth, students and poor working masses to demonstrate their resolve to take their fate in their hands and rid society of the cankerworm of corruption that has held back society’s progress. By mobilizing to the streets, we aim to show the ruling elites an image of the mass resistance they will have to deal with if they dare take the people for a ride.
To have an effect, the rallies must be used by labour to demand that we do not just want anti-corruption show-trials and circuses as in the past which led to no meaningful result. Neither do we want the use of anti-corruption war to settle political or personal quarrels or the interminably long trials, plea bargaining and ridiculously light sentences that were the hallmark of past anti-corruption war. Rather this time around, we want a spirited war against corruption that will result in the speedy but fair and diligent trial of all looters irrespective of status, just sentences and the seizure of all their ill-gotten wealth.
While we welcome the rally against corruption, it must not become simply a show of support for Buhari. There is a danger, which labour must take seriously, that the government’s anti-corruption campaign will be a smokescreen for its failure to deal with the worsening economic and social situation. Therefore, we call on the labour leaders to lead a sustained mass campaign/struggle of workers against unfair work practices (casualization, contract work etc), poverty wage, retrenchment, joblessness, unpaid salaries etc. This is the only way the fight against corruption will make any meaning to the working masses, especially as good wages will reduce the temptation for low-level corruption as workers struggle to survive.
Currently, anti-labour practices are growing in private companies as well as in public service. Casualization/contract labour is not only on the increase in private sector with labour looking helplessly while government looks other way. Minimum wage in Nigeria is one of the lowest in the world in the face of political office holders earning mind-boggling jumbo allowances. The N18, 000 minimum wage is not only outrageously a poverty wage, it is an indictment on labour leadership for failing to struggle for living wage. On top of that, even this very low N18, 000 minimum wage is not paid by government at all levels; several months of salaries are owed to workers while the response from labour leaders is abysmally weak. Given the depreciation of Naira, rising cost of living, massive job loss and lack of basic amenities, sustained mass struggle for a new national minimum wage which must be a living wage is long overdue. Labour leaders must lead a struggle to demand that political office holders and top bureaucrats earn the average wage of skilled civil servants.
Unfortunately, the Buhari government has publicly declared to continue and deepen the neo-liberal policies where the Jonathan’s government stopped. For the fact that the policy thrust of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not different to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) while membership of both political parties is fluid shows that the major political parties are all the same. The Labour Party that was formed by the NLC was contracted out to self-serving politicians and only serves as platform for politicians who lost out in the power game in the big brother parties (PDP and APC).
The pro-establishment capitalist parties can never serve the interest of workers. It is only a political party of the working masses armed with socialist programs (nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy democratic control and management, massive investment in basic infrastructure, mass job creation) as a key part of the ongoing battle against corruption, that can sustainably lead a third world economy like Nigeria on the path of industrialization and development.
DSM calls on the trade unions to convoke a mass meeting of workers, labour leaders, pro-working people organizations and socialist groups to discuss the formation and building of a mass working people party; a party that will stand for the class interest of the working masses.