Labour Holds Nationwide Anti-Corruption Rallies
Labour Holds Nationwide Anti-Corruption Rallies
Dagga addressing the rally in Lagos – photo DSM
On Thursday September 10, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) held nationwide anti-corruption rallies in Abuja and all the state capitals. The rallies were organized to give support to the official anti-corruption fight or efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari. The members of DSM participated at the rallies in Abuja, Ogun, Oyo and Lagos states with a special leaflet which called for mass mobilisation for the fight against corruption with bold slogans FOR MASS ACTION AGAINST CORRUPTION, JAIL THE LOOTERS! SEIZE THEIR ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH!!
The leaflet was however critical of the seriousness or sincerity of the fight given the rotten and corruptible character of the major sponsors and campaigners of Buhari on his way to presidency who appear untouchable. It seems at present that the anti-corruption war is directed at the previous Jonathan administration and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members. This does not suggest that those that have been targeted were not corrupt; indeed the last administration did very little to even pretend that it abhorred corruption or corrupt public officers. But the fight has to be holistic without any sacred cow. Besides, the anti-corruption fight has been reduced to a mere media trial.
Intervening with SD in Lagos – photo DSM
The leaflet however argued that it is fallacious to hope to successfully fight corruption under an iniquitous capitalism which provides fertile ground for it to thrive.
As we put it in the leaflet, “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. “
The leaflet therefore stressed that, “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 and material basis of corruption.”
The leaflet also articulated the imperative of a mass working peoples’ political party with a socialist program as against neo-liberal capitalist agenda which is the main thrust of Buhari government.
Many thousands of copies of the leaflet were circulated, and copies of DSM publications sold, at the four rallies where we participated. The rallies provided us a good opportunity to engage working people with socialist approach to the fight against corruption.
It is significant that the Textile Labour Union which is part of the Joe Ajaero’s faction of the NLC participated actively at the rallies which were organized by the Wabba’s faction in conjunction with the TUC. This could be suggestive of some level of success recorded in the efforts to unify the two factions.
Below are the reports of DSM intervention at the rallies;
By Akande Daniel B. and Dimeji Macaulay
Comrades at Abuja Rally, photo DSM
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) held their main protest rally against corruption in Abuja. The protest which started at the Unity Fountain, where over one thousand workers had converged, was addressed by the Presidents of the NLC and TUC Waba Ayuba and BoiBoi Kaigman as well as other labour leaders and civil society activists.
Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) participated at the protest march with circulation of DSM leaflet and sale of our paper – Socialist Democracy. The bold headline of the leaflet “FOR MASS ACTION AGAINST CORRUPTION, JAIL THE LOOTERS, SEIZE THEIR ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH” drew many protesters to us. Indeed, one of the DJs used the public address system to read out the heading of the leaflet which also includes, “Only Putting an End to the Unjust System of Capitalism can Permanently Defeat Corruption and Fully Meet the Interest of the Working Masses” to the gathering.
Many protesters carried different placards with description such as “NO TO CORUUPTION, YES TO GOOD GOVERNACE”, “JAIL ALL CORRUPT LEARDERS”, “NO TO REMOVAL OF FUEL SUBSIDY”, “CORRUPTION CREATED UNEMPLOYEMENT AND POVERTY” and lots more on corruption.
While the protest was on, we were also engaging other participants in discussion on socialist analysis and way forward on corruption. We emphasized that why we supported struggles against corruption, it is capitalism especially the neo-liberal agenda that provide fertile ground for corruption to thrive. In other words, we cannot stop the monster of corruption without ending capitalism.
From Unity Fountain the protesters moved down through Maitama to the Economic and Financial Crime Corruption (EFCC) Head Office at Wuse 2, where the leadership addressed the rally again and submitted a letter to the EFCC representative.
Abiodun Aremu , Secretary of Joint Action Front, who was also called up to speak, stressed, among other things, that owing workers six to seven month salaries by governments is as a result of corruption in the system and mismanagement of economy at all levels.
From there, the protesters moved to the National Assembly and then to the Office of the Secretary to Federal Government where a letter was submitted to the SGF for onward delivery to the president.
The protest lasted for over five hours with over a thousand workers and activists. We circulated well over 1,000 copies of our leaflet while also selling sold copies of the DSM’s paper Socialist Democracy and five copies of a DSM pamphlet titled: “Perennial Fuel Shortages: NEED FOR PUBLIC OWNERSHIP OF OIL INDUSTRY”.
By DSM reporter
Capitalism the monster – photo DSM
One of the nationwide Anti-Corruption protest rallies declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) was also held in Ogun State. The protest march which took off from Ibaara Post Office Junction at Abeokuta was well attended by workers from both the NLC and TUC in Ogun State.
Upon sighting DSM leaflets specially produced for the rallies with the comrades who intervened at the protest rally, the mass of workers took up huge chunks of the leaflets for mass distribution to the mass of people. Equally, copies of the Socialist Democracy were requested and bought by the workers.
At the popular NNPC Junction at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, the labour leaders extended opportunity to the civil society forces joining them in the protest march to make their speeches. Ayo Ademiluyi, secretary of the Democratic Socialist Movement, Ogun State was also invited to the podium to address the workers. Ayo Ademiluyi, who opted to speak in the Yoruba language (which is arguably the native tongue of his audience and the general mass of people who were held up by the protest march) underscored the fact that capitalism is the root of corruption and the main basis for the mass penury amidst widespread abundant resources in Nigeria. He expressed the fact that the workers do not know that they are the lifeline of capitalist society and whenever they undertake strike actions, the wheels of production comes to a grinding halt.
Ayo Ademiluyi called for a mass workers’ party on an express programme of taking over the abundant wealth of society to begin the democratic redistribution of wealth. He submitted that it is only a genuine workers and youth government that can overthrow capitalism and its attendant features such as corruption as seen in Nigeria. He also challenged the workers on specific workers’ issues in Ogun State and called on them to fight for their rights including but not limited to the remittance of their deducted pensions and payment of their unpaid arrears of salaries. The speech was well received as a number of workers approached Ayo Ademiluyi to ask for the office of the DSM in Abeokuta.
The protest march continued as the protesters streamed into the Ogun State Government Secretariat, which also houses the Governor’s Office. The labour leaders addressed the workers who came out of their respective offices to listen to their addresses. The labour leaders called for the prompt payment of workers’ salaries and the remittance of deducted pensions.
The march proceeded to the Governor’s office, where after the workers had rejected the Secretary to the Ogun State Government demanded that Governor Ibikunle Amosun come down to address the workers. The Governor was later left with no choice than to step out and he was drawn by the workers to join them in the protest march and to address them at the Parade Ground, directly facing the Governor’s Office.
In his speech, the Ogun State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Ambali applauded what he called the efforts of the Governor in meeting the expectation of workers but demanded that the recent bailout for the state by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government be utilized to pay the unpaid arrears of salaries of workers in Ogun State.
Ibikunle Amosun, the Ogun State Governor, in his response claimed that he was actually given 2.4 billion naira as bailout by the Federal Government and stated that the state has the highest wage bill in the Southwest, which gulp a large chunk of the bailout. He also claimed this is aside the allowances of the members of the Ogun State House of Assembly among others. He concluded that workers should be patient with him. The protest dispersed after the speech of the Governor.
His speech generated a lot of spontaneous debate among workers who were surprised that the Governor is talking about the payment of the allowances of politicians from the bailout given to the state specifically to settle the unpaid arrears of salaries of workers. It is clear that there are stormy days ahead for the Ibikunle Amosun-led state government in Ogun State in terms of meeting up with the expectations of workers.
While the labour leaders are publicly praising the Governor, his growing notoriety of attacking workers’ rights has earned him odium among rank-and-file workers. Apart from banning trade unions in the Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu, he recently sacked six Ministry of Education officials. It is the task before the DSM in Ogun State to deepen the discussion for a mass-based fightback against these attacks.
The mood at the protest rally also reveals the growing disenchantment among workers on the general state of things, which is vaguely expressed at the moment. For instance, some of the placards brought to the protest march bore such inscriptions such as “LOOTERS MUST RETURN THEIR STOLEN WEALTH”. The labour leaders do not have a clear and well-mapped out strategy as to how to lead the struggle against corruption. However, the events of the coming period will throw up battles by the working class as the growing anger against the economic crisis by the rank-and-file workers pushes the labour leaders to lead serious mass struggles on industrial and economic issues in the period ahead. A campaign for a genuine working class political alternative may draw a deep echo in the coming tumultuous period.
By Emmanuel Adikwu
Protest march in Lagos – photo DSM
DSM comrades participated at the anti-corruption protest organized by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Lagos, as part of a nationwide protest marches held in Abuja and state capitals.
At about 8am, workers, civil society groups and the general public began to converge at Ikeja under bridge, where the protest march was scheduled to commence. Various banners and placards were on display, while leaflets were being distributed to sensitize the general public about the event, and urging them to be part of the protest march. At about 9am, the peaceful procession of protesters commenced, passing through Obafemi Awolowo way, and headed for the Lagos state Government Secretariat which housed the Governor’s office, where the protest terminated.
The DSM comrades were armed with placards, anti-corruption leaflets and the Socialist Democracy (SD). We were able to distribute leaflets to passers-by, people at the bus stops, police officers, soldiers, private security officers, people in private and commercial vehicles etc., while attempting to sell the SD. We occasionally had one-on-one discussions with those that were interested in what the protest was all about, as well as those that were interested in the DSM.
Protest march in Lagos – photo DSM
After a long walk, the protest march finally halted at the gate of the Governor’s office that was littered with armed security operatives. The protesters were told that the Governor was not on seat at the moment. The Labour leaders then decided that the protesters would wait until the governor arrives before the protest will be called off.
While the waiting game was on, solidarity songs were chanted and we used the opportunity to distribute more leaflets and also sell the paper. Comrade Dagga (DSM NEC member) also seized the opportunity to address the protesters. Among other things, he called for prosecution of the looters and forfeiture of the loot while making clear that the only way to end corruption is to put an end to the capitalist system that breeds corruption.
After waiting outside the gate for over two hours, which was well utilized, Mr. Tunji Bello â€“ the Secretary to the State Government -came to address the protesters, and received the protest letter on behalf of the state Governor.
Over 500 people participated at the protest march. We were able to distribute about two thousand leaflets, while 22 copies of SD were sold.
By F. A Kafu
On 10th September, 2015, workers of Oyo State under the umbrella of NLC and TUC staged an anti-corruption rally in Ibadan. State workers as well as federal workers were present at the rally.
The rally kicked off at Agodi in Ibadan after the NLC chairman had addressed the workers of Oyo State on the need for Oyo State to join in the fight against corruption as President Buhari has purportedly started at the national level.
Members of DSM participated at the protest with anti-corruption leaflet and our paper, Socialist Democracy.
Struggle songs were also sung as well as radical slogans during the rally as we marched towards the Oyo State Secretariat.
The rally was clearly organized to lend NLC’s support to Buhari in his much touted war against corruption. Our leaflet, which supported serious struggles against corruption, however questioned the genuineness of Buhari’s anti-corruption mantra and emphasized that it is capitalism, on which Buhari government is built, which breeds corruption. It argued for socialist alternative as well as the need for working people to struggle for political power.
On arrival at the Oyo State Secretariat, the Deputy Governor Moses Alake Adeyemo came out to address the workers of Oyo State. In his short statement, he pledged that the government of Oyo State is ready to join the fight against corruption. He also used the opportunity to appeal to workers to be patient with Oyo State over the unpaid salaries. It is instructive to state the failure of the state government and others to pay salaries and pensions is partly as a result of corrupt practices in which salaries of workers were mortgaged for money borrowed from banks for infrastructure projects that are nowhere to be seen.
At the rally, about 2,000 copies of the leaflet were distributed and some copies of Socialist Democracy were sold.