BUHARI/APC GOVT AND THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM HAVE FAILED US
BUHARI/APC GOVT AND THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM HAVE FAILED US
We Need to Fight Against Anti-poor Economic Policies and for Socialist Change
Today, 6 February 2017, thousands will be marching in Lagos, Abuja and other cities to protest the growing economic hardship being faced by a majority of Nigerians. After nearly two years in power, the Buhari/APC government has failed woefully. Things are worse now than before. The rising cost of living is unbearable for the vast majority. High hope invested in Buhari by many Nigerians seeking genuine change is being shattered amidst growing disillusionment.
Contrary to his campaign promises, President Buhari has carried out vicious attacks on the living standard of ordinary people. Buhari-led government claimed to be fighting corruption but it has been largely one-sided and hypocritical. For instance, the Secretary to the federal government, Mr. Babachir Lawal, was alleged by the Senate to have awarded a contract worth N270 million originally meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in the North-East to his company (Rholavision Limited) and Buhari has protected him under spurious excuse.
The Buhari government is incapable of reversing the growing inequality, hopelessness, poverty, high cost of living and despondency. Under this government, electricity generation has become more epileptic despite giving the private electricity companies over N200 billion. Yet the tariff has continued to go higher. Since Obasanjo regime over $20 billion has been invested in the power sector with most of it invested in the Independent Power Project (IPP) with nothing to show for it. Most of our roads are in deplorable state while the housing sector is as chaotic as Lagos traffic.
Buhari’s government campaigns that Nigerians should patronize made-in-Nigeria goods but he travels regularly for health treatment in UK spending scarce forex whereas most of our hospitals are in shambles. Last year Buhari spent about N20 million for his ear ailment while abandoning the ENT specialist hospital in Kaduna. The ruling class does not have belief in this country- their children school abroad while our public schools are left to rot.
Job loss is on the increase as over 3 million workers have lost their jobs in the last 2 years. Official inflationary rate is 18.55% as at December 2016 but the prices of some basic commodities have gone up by more than one hundred percent. According to the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) 50 factories closed down in 2016, unsold goods in the manufacturing sector stand at N100 billion while capacity utilization is down to 40%.
Despite the growing economic hardship, workers are not only paid poverty wage, many particularly in several states across the federation are paid a fraction of their salary while political office holders and top management staff in private companies earn jumbo salaries and allowances and live a life of opulence. Indeed, workers in about 27 states are being owed salaries of up to 7 months. While pensioners are being owned for as much as 70 months, 27 states recently spent over N37.4 billion to pay the pensions of 47 ex-governors.
Rice is now about N19, 000 and the quantity of Lake Rice is too insignificant to alter the price of rice; Kerosene and diesel are now about N280 and N250 per litres respectively but we were told that deregulation will bring down the price; cooking gas has gone up from N3, 200 to N4, 500 and up to N6, 000 in some states of the federation despite the fact that it is produced in Nigeria and not so much affected by forex. Last year when the Buhari government ended fuel subsidy and increased petrol price to N145 per litre, the promise was that competition will make the price go down. 9 months after not only has this not happened but there are now indications that the government and marketers are planning another increment.
In the same way deregulation has failed in the oil industry, devaluation has further worsened the foreign exchange crisis; privatization has compounded the woes in the electricity sector. Side by side the abysmal failure of these pro-rich policies and the creation of more poor people, more privileged persons have become stupendously rich.
THE SYSTEM IS DESIGNED TO FAIL THE MAJORITY
While the Buhari-led government just like the previous governments is to be blamed for the economic woes experienced by the working masses, the CAPITALIST SYSTEM which they run is the biggest culprit. It is a system of greed and corruption, dominated by huge international companies and their agents in different countries. The capitalist system is designed to fail the mass majority while ensuring lavish lifestyle for just a few. Therefore, to lift Nigeria out of its growing problems, there is a need to defeat capitalism and all its policies (deregulation, devaluation, concessioning, privatization, commercialization etc.), without which the crisis will deepen.
The only economic program that can take Nigeria out of the woods is socialist economic framework that prioritizes the planning of production and services to meet the needs of all as against the profit of a few. This can only materialize when the commanding heights of the economy are nationalized (publicly owned) under democratic management and control of the working people at all levels to ensure their assets are not looted. Before the suffering masses can take ownership of the economy and begin to defend their socio-economic and political interest, they have to stop queuing behind all the anti-poor politicians and their political parties (PDP, APC, Labour Party, APGA etc.) and build a pan-Nigeria working class mass movement with its own political party to enable them wrest power from this self-serving and greedy capitalist ruling class.
There is huge potential for such a movement that fights for change but the official leaders of Labour are currently not prepared to seriously start to build it. The lack of a political party that will defend the working and poor masses prompted some socialists, working class trade union activists and other working people to form the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN). While tirelessly building the SPN, we continue to call on the NLC, TUC, ULC and the wider labour movement to form a mass workers’ political party that will defend the interest of the working masses. But it will be wrong to wait until the Labour leaders do something. Hence, we call on workers, traders, transporters, students, unemployed etc., to join the SPN as a way to kick start the process of building that mass party of the working masses that can help build the struggle to secure real change.
HOW TO FIGHT AND WIN
The February 6 protest can only be adjudged successful if it becomes the starting point of a nationwide mass movement against anti-poor policies. One day of protest is not enough to achieve all the demands. Therefore after February 6, a new date for another protest must be named and all organizations and groups involved must meet to discuss how to mobilize to ensure a far more successful turnout. This time around more attention must be given to mobilization on the streets in communities, workplaces and campuses instead of restricting everything to social media, which though important, does not fully ensure that all suffering Nigerians are carried along. More importantly, the leadership of the labour movement cannot continue to ignore the anger and growing call for action which has found expression in this movement. It is important that trade unions are involved in the subsequent phase of the struggle. Despite the pro-capitalist character of many leaders of labour, the trade unions remain a very potent force in society for its genuine transformation. It is only the working class leading the rest of the oppressed masses that can fight successfully for an end to capitalism and an enthronement of a socialist society.
We enjoin all protesters to adopt and fight for the following demands:
(1) Reversal of prices of food items, kerosene, cooking gas, electricity tariff and petrol back to pre-2016 levels
(2) Immediate payment of backlog of salaries and pensions being owed in 27 states
(3) For a N56, 000 national minimum wage and no retrenchment
(4) A monthly unemployment allowance to be paid to all unemployed persons
(5) Immediate public-sector led job creation through the expansion of basic infrastructure to ensure the creation of decent and minimum wage jobs with union rights.
(6) Immediate reversal of fee hikes in all public Universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. Adequate funding of public education and improvement in the pay and working conditions of staff
(7) Improved funding and upgrade of all public hospitals and improvement in the pay and working conditions of medical staff
(8) For diligent prosecution of all those indicted or on trial for corruption and if convicted, they should be jailed and made to forfeit the proceeds of corruption.
(9) Drastic reduction in the cost of governance. For a unicameral legislature with members drawn from various interest groups like artisan group, community groups, trade unions, youth, women etc.
(10) Cut in the pay and allowances of all political office holders. For all political office holders at LG, state and federal level to be placed on the national minimum wage
(11) A freeze on costly overseas trip for medical check-up. All political office holders to go to the same public hospital as the rest of the population.
(12) Reversal of privatization of the power sector because it has failed. For a publicly-owned power sector under democratic management
(14) No to planned fuel price hike. NNPC to be in charge of importation and distribution of refined fuel products and immediate steps to build new refineries through public investment
(15) Defense of democratic rights, no arbitrary arrests and detention.
(16) Recognition of the rights of any part of Nigeria to self-determination and respect for the interests of ethnic minorities
(17) Reject deregulation, privatization and all anti-poor capitalist policies. For the nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy under working masses’ democratic control and management
(18) APC, PDP, APGA and other anti-poor parties are the same. Reject them. For a mass workers party to fight for political power, overthrow capitalism and enthrone a democratic socialist system.