Socialist Democracy Feb – Mar 2003
Socialist Democracy Feb – Mar 2003
REJECT THE MONEYBAG PARTIES
Build A Mass-Based NCP
Fight For Socialist Policies To End Nigeria’s Crisis
The tempo of political
activities has quickened in the country following the release of the
time-table for the 2003 national and state elections by the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC).
By this time-table, election into the National
Assembly has been slated for 12th April, 2003 while the governorship and
presidential elections will hold on 19th April, 2003. The polls is
expected to be concluded with the election into the Houses of Assembly of
the 36 states on 3rd May, 2003.
As part of preparations for the elections, political
parties have been organising primaries to select their candidates. The
ruling party at the national level, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is
to present President Obasanjo as its presidential candidate.
The official “opposition” party, the All
Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP) on its part has chosen to present another
general and military dictator, General Muhamadu Buhari, as its
Two other ex-generals, Ike Wachukwu (National
Democratic Party) and Emeka Ojukwu (All Peoples Grand Alliance) are also
to be candidates in the presidential election. This has made some sections
of the capitalist media to label the coming elections as the “war of
Significantly, from the point of view of the interests
of the working masses, the National Conscience Party (NCP), is presenting
Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the renowned human rights activist and lawyer, as
its presidential flag bearer. It has also been reported in the media that
other radical parties like the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) headed by
Alhaji Balarabe Musa, and the Democratic Alternative (DA) are also to
field candidates for presidential and other positions.
Against this background, what should be the attitude
of workers, youth, the rural and urban poor and the working people in
general to these elections? Put another way, what is the best approach to
advance the socio-economic and political interests of the working people
in the coming elections and the period thereafter?
NO FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE
The primaries of the main capitalist parties and their
general attitude towards the elections shows that nothing fundamentally
has changed from the pro-rich, monetised, ethno-religious, individualistic
and self-centred politics of the Nigerian capitalist elite. Firstly, the
selection of candidates in these parties have been so commercialised that
only millionaire and billionaire treasury looters can take part in the
primaries, let alone to emerge as party candidates.
In the PDP and ANPP, for instance, aspirants were
compelled to pay N5 million and N10 million respectively for the post of
president . This shows that electoral contest is seen as a kind of
business venture, in which someone invests in order to reap millions and
billions of naira later. This is a sure guarantee for the looting of
public treasury if ever any of these politicians gets into power.
The outcome of the primaries of the capitalist parties
also again confirms the fact that the Nigerian capitalist class lacks any
genuine idea or alternative to take the country out of its socio-economic
morass. The primaries have been dominated by personal issues, intrigues
and horse-trading, without any discussion on programmes and policies on
how to take the country forward. This, however, should not be a surprise
to the working people; this trend merely confirms the visionless character
of the elite, a by-product of the neo-colonial economy, state and society
which they preside over.
Furthermore, there is the increasing revelation of the
plan by the various factions of the ruling elite to rig the forthcoming
polls. For instance, even INEC has confirmed the existence of two million
fake names on the voters’ register nationally.
But INEC have also said that it had issued 80 million
voters’ cards while the estimated voters’ population is put at around
56 million! Recently, the police allegedly busted the plan by a syndicate
to print five million fake voters’ cards! The fact that in the past three
years, hundreds of people have either been killed or injured in violent
clashes between the various factions struggling for power and positions
within the various capitalist political parties, especially PDP, AD, ANPP
shows the desperation of the various factions of the elite to get access
to power at all cost.
The various factions of the ruling elite only agree on
one point: the imposition of anti-poor, neo-liberal capitalist policies
such privatisation, commercialisation, retrenchment of workers, etc. on
the working people. Against this background, the elections are likely to
be characterised by disputes and crisis.
Not only that. If any section of the capitalist ruling
class should be elected into office, this will not in any way solve the
problems facing the working people and youth or take the society forward.
Whether Obasanjo is re-elected or he is replaced by any other capitalist
administration, the attacks on the working people’s living and working
conditions will continue.
A WORKING PEOPLE’S ALTERNATIVE
To prevent this type of dangerous scenario from
becoming a reality, the labour movement and the working people in general
must, as a matter of urgency, put in place a working people
socio-political alternative. This should start with the building of a mass
movement to fight against all capitalist attacks on the working people,
and the building of a working people’s political party which will organise
the masses to struggle for power.
But only a movement based on a socialist,
anti-capitalist programme and perspectives can consistently champion the
interests of the masses, moreso at the present period of capitalist
economic crisis in Nigeria and internationally.
Unfortunately, the leadership of trade union movement
and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have not live up to their historical
responsibility to build such a movement. Not only have they failed to
consistently defend workers against privatisation, retrenchment, and other
anti-poor policies of the ruling class, it has shied away from boldly
posing a political challenge to the elite.
Sigfinicantly, the Party for Social Democracy (PSD)
recently formed by a section of the trade union leadership, has existed
mostly on paper. It has failed to organise mass activities and it does not
have any visible structure among workers and the masses in general.
BUILD MASS-BASED, DEMOCRATIC AND SOCIALIST NCP
The only organisation which presently has the greatest
potential to mobilise and organise the masses to defend their rights and
capture political power is the National Conscience Party (NCP).
But in order for it to fully realise its potential and
live up to the expectation of the masses, NCP must be built as a grassroot,
mass-based, and democratic party fighting uncompromisingly for the
interests of the workers, peasants, youth and the urban and rural poor in
general, whether it is elected into office or not.
To achieve this, the NCP should defend the masses and
stand consistently against all anti-poor, pro-rich capitalist policies
such as violation of democratic rights, privatisation of public assets,
commercialisation of social services, retrenchment of workers, non-payment
of wages and pensions, repression of ethnic and religious minorities, and
discriminations against women.
NCP should fight for the rights of the masses to a
living wage, full employment, free and qualitative education and
healthcare, welfare benefits for the unemployed, the sick and the elderly,
efficient and affordable water, housing, transportation and
telecommunications and other basic necessities of life.
But to be able to implement the pro-masses policies
enumerated above and other laudable programmes which are contained in the
party’s 10-care programme, the party will have to stand for the public
ownership of the commanding sectors of the Nigerian economy like
petroleum, mineral resources, big industries and banks to be managed and
controlled democratically by the working people.
It must stand for the society to collectively own and
the working people in the cities and villages to democratically control
the country’s wealth which are presently owned and monopolised by a
super-rich minority of local and multi-national capitalists.
Only by this means will an NCP government have the
necessary resources to implement the pro-masses policies which have
endeared it to the masses and also ensure that these resources are
efficiently utilised to provide for the real needs of the overwhelming
majority of the people rather stupendous wealth for only a small minority
as it is the case in the present neo-colonial capitalist
In other words, in order to abolish mass poverty, and
eradicate hunger, diseases, unemployment, crimes, and ethnic and religious
conflicts, an NCP government must be a workers’ and poor peasants’
government based on a democratic, socialist and anti-capitalist programme.
To prevent or minimise election rigging by the ruling
class parties in the coming elections, NCP should encourage its members
and the working masses to establish democratic grassroot, local election
monitoring committees who will be very vigilant and monitor voting in
polling centres and the collation of the results. Above all the NCP must
educate and organise the masses to be prepared at all times to struggle to
defend their votes and rights.
It is only by having and implementing the programme,
policies and methods explained above that the NCP will live up to the
expectations of the downtrodden working masses. The supporters of the DSM
who are members of the NCP will struggle together with other party members
to build the party and ensure that it fulfils the masses’ aspirations.
Gani, Aborishade, Abassi, Arogundade Elected As NCP Candidates
The National Conscience Party (NCP) has been holding
special congresses to elect the party’s candidates for the general
elections which will take place in the country between March and April
A special congress of the Lagos State chapter of the
party held in Lagos on Monday, 6th January, 2003. The main purpose of the
congress was to elect party candidates for the general elections into the
offices of the state governor and deputy governor, and members of the
state house of assembly. The congress was to also elect candidates for
elections into the two chambers of the National Assembly (namely the
Senate and House of Representatives).
The congress was attended by about 1500 members and
supporters of the party. However, there were only 623 members accredited
to vote. Those who attended were predominantly youth. The mood was quite
enthusiastic and it reflected the growing confidence among members since
the party was given official recognition on 3rd December, 2003. A sum of
N5,600 was raised during a financial appeal.
The congress had received wide media coverage. It was
reported in at least five national newspapers and three TV channels in
The governorship nomination was won by Lateef Abassi,
a pro-democracy activist and an officer of the party who was based in the
US. Mrs. Teju Abiola, a former member of the National Executive Committee
of the party, was elected as the deputy governorship candidate. Richard
Akinnola, a journalist and media rights campaigner, was chosen to carry
the party’s flag in Mushin 2 constituency in the House of Representatives.
Four socialists and members of DSM who stood as
candidates in the party primary elections at the congress were successful.
Among them is Lanre Arogundade, who was former NANS president and former
chairman of the NUJ in Lagos State, who would be the party’s candidate in
the Lagos West senatorial district, the biggest and most populous in the
country. Niyi Adewunmi, a lawyer and former speaker of the Obafemi Awolowo
University students’ union was elected for Ifako-Ijaiye federal
The state congress of the NCP Oyo State chapter was
held on Monday 6th January, 2003 at Teacher’s House, NUT Oyo State wing,
Oluyole Estate, Ibadan. About 100 people attended the congress most of
whom were students\youths, middle-aged workers and professionals.
The congress received adequate press attention as most
of the invited media outfits, both print and electronic turned up to give
coverage to the even.
At the congress, some party candidates for the next
general elections were elected. Femi Aborisade, the National General
Secretary of the party, was elected as the party’s gubernatorial
candidate. Two of the candidates elected at the congress – one for Federal
House of Representatives and the other for State House of Assembly – are
women. Two socialist student activists were elected to contest for the
State House of Assembly elections in next general elections.
The special national congress of the NCP to elect the
party’s candidate for the posts of president and vice-president took place
on 8th January, 2003. A total of 516 party members were accredited for the
meeting although about 1000 people were present. The congress elected the
party’s founder and national chairman, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the human
rights activist and lawyer, as the party’s presidential flag bearer.
Barrister Jerry Gopye, from Plateau State, was elected vice-presidential
Fight INEC’S “Processing Fees”
On Friday, 17th January, 2003, at a meeting of the
“Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Registered
Political Parties Consultative Forum”
, INEC informed representatives of the political
parties present that a political party will not be allowed to present
candidates for the 2003 general elections unless it pays to INEC, for the
each of its candidates across the country, the following fees:
Presidential candidate N500,000, Senatorial candidate N250,000, House of
Representatives candidates N150,000, Gubernatorial candidate N300,000,
House of Assembly candidate N50,000.
By this new, illegal, provocative and
outrageous regime of fees being introduced by INEC, assuming all political
parties were to field candidates for elective offices across the states of
the federation, then each party would pay to INEC the sum of N169,950,000!
And if this is multiplied by the 30 political parties, it amounts to
N5,098,500,000 that INEC expects to gather from this illegal business of
trading with political parties’ contest and the democratic rights of
The National Conscience Party (NCP), one of the newly
registered political parties, has however vowed to fight this latest
attempt by INEC to place another hurdle before it and other pro-masses,
radical but poor parties to contest the 2003 elections. According to the
NCP, “the imposition of fees on candidates is another attempt to rig
election (before it actually held) in favour of the PDP and other ruling
parties …… why should wealth (genuinely or corruptly acquired),
be the determinant of who should be candidates for election in a
Apart from taking legal action, the NCP vows to
organise “mass rallies, processions, and protests on the streets and
to INEC offices throughout Nigeria”.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) joins the NCP
and some other parties to condemn this latest imposition of illegal and
unconstitutional, so-called “processing fees”
on political parties by INEC. We commend the NCP for
its open rejection of such anti-poor proposition, and hereby declare our
support for its earlier highlighted plans to compel the INEC to rescind
its decision. We further call on the poor working people, market men and
women, students and youths, trade unions, pro-democracy organisations,
etc, and other parties to rally round the struggle against the illegal
processing fees of INEC.
INEC claims to derive its power to impose the illegal
outrageous processing fees on political parties, from section 21
subsection (4) and (8) of the Electoral Act 2002. But this is false.
Nothing in the above quoted section of the Electoral
Act 2002 empowers INEC, as it claims, to impose “processing
fees”, or any other fees whatsoever, on party candidates.
But why would INEC insist on imposing the provocative,
illegal “processing fees” on parties outside the provisions of
all known laws guiding the conduct of elections in Nigeria? The answer is
simple. INEC, as the electoral organ of the ruling, thieving,
irresponsible capitalist elite, spread across the dominant capitalist
parties of PDP, ANPP, AD, etc, cannot be expected to be unbiased in an
electoral contest between its bosses and pro-masses, radical parties like
the NCP, which has vowed, if elected to power, to probe the illicitly
gotten wealth of its leaders and representatives; put through some radical
reforms in areas like the economy, social security, education, health
care, etc, and generally pose a threat to the ill-gotten privileges of the
capitalist ruling elites. Hence, the preparedness of INEC, as a willing
tool in the hands of the ruling PDP and other bourgeois parties, to
introduce rules, guidelines and procedure, just like the illegal and
unconstitutional processing fees, designed to prevent radical, pro-working
people political parties like NCP from fielding candidates in the coming
general elections, having failed in its earlier undemocratic attempt to
prevent the registration of political parties until it was compelled by a
Supreme Court judgment of 8th November, 2002.
In the December 2002 special bulletin of our paper,
the Socialist Democracy, we stated:
“To us in the DSM, this decision by INEC to allow NCP
and other political parties that were earlier refused registration to
stand candidates in subsequent elections will go down in history as one of
the decisive victories won by the working people since January 1966 when
the military wing of the Nigerian ruling class first seized power and
abolish the right to organise political parties and contest elections
without having to first get the approval of the government or any of its
But while the registration of the NCP undoubtedly
represents a big step forward for the working masses, to us in the DSM, it
should be seen just as a stage in the struggle of the masses for genuine
multi-party democracy and an end to the endless life of mass poverty and
capitalist oppression. A lot of huge obstacles still remain to be
Barely one month after, one of such huge obstacles has
been thrown across the path of the poor working masses to enjoy their
hard-earned victory recorded by the struggle for the registration of more
political parties and the expansion of the political space, which was
hitherto dominated solely by money bag, pro-rich, anti-poor capitalist
The NCP must therefore be prepared to continue to mobilize the
poor working masses, which constitute the bulk of its members, the
students and youth, other strata of the oppressed and all other
change-seeking people to wage ceaseless battle against all undemocratic
attempts by INEC and its masters in the ruling capitalist parties to deny
it of the opportunity to offer an alternative to the working masses
against the rot and irresponsibility represented by the current ruling
capitalist class. The aim of INEC is to turn the registration secured by
NCP and other parties into mere paper registration, knowing well that its
newly introduced, unconstitutional and illegal “processing fees”
can only be paid by money bag parties and politicians
who have been responsible for the massive looting and outright stealing of
our collective resources to the detriment of the poor toiling masses. INEC
intends to operate a “democracy” of a very few, super-rich looters, military generals
Even if it fails in its latest attempt to create
another unjust and illegal barrier for pro-working masses parties like NCP
to contest the coming elections, and it is compelled by legal and popular
mass actions of the masses to rescind this latest decision, INEC and the
ruling capitalist class in general would still try other means to prevent
a party like the NCP from capturing power.
Those methods could even
include the use of acts of violence against NCP members and activists;
organising conspiracies against the NCP and pro-working people parties,
and the outright rigging of the elections. Already there are widespread
reports of the antics of the military generals, the moneybag politicians
and their agents, whom INEC’s politics of moneytisation is orchestrated to
favour, to rig themselves to power, of course in collusion with INEC, in
the coming elections. Already there are reports of the discovery of
millions of fake ballot papers.
For instance, in The Guardian of Friday, 17th January,
there is a report of the arrest of operators of a printing outlet who
confessed to have been contacted to print fake ballot papers by a retired
army colonel. According to the paper, the suspects also disclosed that the
“colonel” agreed to pay N200 per copy of the fake card. They
were to print five million cards, amounting to N100,000,000.
INEC is conspiring to churn out series of illegal, unconstitutional
anti-poor, pro-rich-looters regulations to prevent parties like the NCP,
its anointed bosses, the retired military generals and other moneybag
politicians are busy plotting their game to rig out parties of the poor
masses like the NCP in event that INEC failed in all its undemocratic
attempts to stop the NCP and other parties from fielding candidates in the
Therefore, while struggling against the latest illegal
roadblock mounted by INEC on its part, as represented by the so-called
processing fees, NCP and in fact the working masses in general must take
measures to minimize or prevent the ruling class parties from rigging the
coming elections. To this end, NCP should encourage its members and
activists and the working masses to establish democratic grassroot, local
election monitoring committees who will be very vigilant and monitor
voting in the polling centres and collation of results. Also, NCP must
educate and organise the masses to be prepared at all times to struggle to
defend their votes and rights.
“Processing Fees Must Be Totally Withdrawn”
– Lagos NCP
Following massive opposition to the illegal
“processing fees”, INEC on the 29th January, announced the
reduction in the said fees. But in a quick reaction to the latest
decision, the Lagos State chapter of NCP has called for total cancellation
and not partial reduction of the fees.
In a statement signed by Segun Sango, the state
chairman of the party, the NCP says: “The attention of the Lagos
State Chapter of the National Conscience Party (NCP) has been drawn to a
statement credited to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),
and repeated in some national newspapers including the Guardian of
Thursday, January 30, 2003, to the effect that the commission has decided
to slash its illegal so-called processing fees imposed on political
parties candidates by about 80%. Consequently, candidates seeking to
contest for political offices will now be expected to pay the following
charges: Presidential candidate N100, 000 instead of N500, 000, Senatorial
candidate N50,000 instead of N250, 000, House of Representatives N30,000
instead of N150,000, Governorship candidate N60,000 as against N300,000,
and House of Assembly N10,000 instead of N50,000.
While we acknowledge the reduction in the said
unnecessary, illegal and provocative fees by INEC, we wish to state
without mincing words that our position remains the same on this issue. We
maintain that the so-called processing fees is illegal,
unconstitutionally, null and void, abinitio and it should totally be
Though INEC claims to derive the powers to impose the
illegal fees on political parties from section 21 subsection 4 and 8 of
the Electoral Act 2002, but such a claim is false. There is no existing
constitutional or legal provision that empowers INEC to impose any such
fees on candidates. In fact what the constitution state is that the
Federal Government shall subsidise political parties and this is contained
in section 228(c) of the 1999 constitution and section 81(c) of the
electoral act 2002.
Therefore INEC is only perpetrating illegality by
attempting to impose the so-called processing fees on political parties
and their candidates. As a principled political party that has always
fought against illegality and struggled for the respect for the provisions
of the constitution and enforcement of the constitutional and democratic
rights of Nigerians, particularly the poor working masses, whom INEC’s
illegal processing fees is targeted against, we shall continue to fight
this latest illegality of INEC, with all legitimate means available until
total victory is achieved and the illegal fees are totally withdrawn.
We are however happy that by our earlier actions and
opposition to the illegal fees, this partial reprieve has been achieved.
Meanwhile, may we also use this medium to condemn the
action of the police on Wednesday 29th January, 2003 when men of police
force physically prevented our members, who were exercising their
constitutional right to peaceful protest to the Lagos State office of INEC
to register our opposition to the illegal processing fees.
We are baffled that even in a democracy the police
could resort to such unconstitutional and unethical act with so much
“Registration Of NCP Shows That Struggle
Segun Sango, Chairman, Lagos State NCP and General
Socialist Democracy (SD): What is the significance of
the recent registration of NCP by INEC?
Segun Sango (SS): The most important significance of
the registration of the NCP by the so-called INEC is that struggle pays.
If the NCP and other 4 political parties that legally fought the battle to
Supreme Court had folded their arms after the initial rejection of their
registration bid, if the NCP leaders and members had not undertaken
ceaseless propaganda and agitation against INEC’s undemocratic, pro-rich
political guidelines, the forthcoming general elections would have been an
exclusive contest between the looters masquerading as politicians in PDP,
ANPP, AD and other pro-rich political parties. This lesson that struggle
pays was not only relevant yesterday, it remains absolutely crucial for
NCP’s today and tomorrow. For instance, having been forced to register NCP
and other political parties, INEC and its pro-rich backers in government
have now introduced a prohibitive “
processing fees” to ensure that a pro-masses
political party like the NCP is technically knocked out from presenting
electoral challenge for power to the present ruinous political leaders.
Even if NCP and other pro-poor, pro-working masses
political parties are eventually allowed to run candidates in the
forthcoming elections, the ruinous members of the capitalist ruling class
and their imperialist backers will stop at nothing to make sure that a
party like NCP is stopped from coming to power, and if at all it comes to
power, to do everything to obstruct the party’s goal of abolishing
poverty. This is because the capitalists measure their glory on the depth
of the gulf that separates themselves from the living conditions of the
impoverished working masses.
Only concerted mass democratic struggles, which place
at its centre the reconstruction and transformation of the prevailing
unjust capitalist social order can ultimately brake the unholy conspiracy
of the elites to kept the mass of the working masses and poor in perpetual
SD: As the chairman of the NCP in Lagos State, what is
your assessment of the level of support for the party among the masses
both before and after the registration?
SS: I think there has always been a significant level
of support for the NCP among the suffering working masses right from its
inception. This has been undergoing a considerable growth since after the
party has become officially recognised as a political party in Nigeria.
What this shows is that there is a deep-seated yearning for a change on
the part of the working masses to the prevailing bankrupt socio-political
system. This by the way is being cynically acknowledged by the ruling
class electoral tool called INEC.
Plainly put, it has the fear that a
pro-masses party like the NCP can begin to have serious political support
of the working masses, a phenomenon seen as detrimental to the
self-serving agenda of the capitalist elements nationally and
internationally. NCP rank and file leaders must therefore fully appreciate
the fact that only by consistently fighting for actualisation of the
aspiration and basic economic and political needs of the masses can they
continue to be relevant to the masses’ quest for change.
To this end, NCP must always see itself as a party of
mass struggle. This is because the capitalist ruling class has never and
will never voluntarily implement any economic or political measure that
can fundamentally improve the lot of the masses. Even when they are
occasionally forced by rhythm of class struggle to grant certain minimal
economic and political concessions e.g. increment in minimum wage,
registration of several political parties, etc., they always almost
instantly implement worse counter-productive measures and policies such as
mass retrenchment of workers, privatisation of the commanding heights of
the economy, commercialisation of social services and basic needs such as
food, housing, education, health care, telecommunications and lately
monetisation of political contest, INEC’s pro-rich “processing
The masses must therefore not entertaining illusion.
Meaningful change can only come out of mass struggles. These mass
struggles must be centrally guided to right the wrongs of the prevailing
capitalist disorder. How is this to be done? The greatest contradiction of
the prevailing capitalist order is that the natural and human resources
required to guarantee a decent socio-political existence for the working
masses and poor in general are in the hands of insatiable greedy,
self-serving egoists. For as long as these elements remain rich in
ill-gotten blood money, they care less and in fact revel in the mystery
and oppression of the overwhelming majority of humankind.
The main revolutionary task therefore before the
current generation of working masses and pro-masses political fighters is
the creation of a powerful working people’s controlled political party
which is sensitive and willing to fight alongside the masses in their
day-to-day economic and political struggle. While striving to always
combine this day-to-day struggle with the need for a complete social
transformation of the prevailing decadent economic and political disorder.
SD: Corruption among politicians is a major phenomenon
in most capitalist societies, especially in the neo-colonial countries and
particularly Nigeria. What do you think the NCP needs to do to avoid also
being caught in this trap?
SS: There are two fundamental ways in which the NCP
can combat the virus of corruption that has been the bane of the Nigerian
society. Firstly, the NCP leaders and rank and file members must always
strive to make sure that its representatives holding governmental and
party positions are held politically and financially accountable at all
times. Among other things, this will involve measures aimed at building
the party as a mass democratic entity wherein the rank and file members
and structures of the party have a decisive say in the day-to-day running
and policy formulation and implementation of the party.
the party, particularly those holding government positions must not only
be compelled to make an open declaration of their assets, party members
must ensure that they are not paid more than the average salary of those
that they are representing. Unlike the present fake anti-corruption
crusade of General Obasanjo’s government, an NCP government will have to
ensure that every corrupt official and persons are dealt with in
accordance with the laws of the land. The NCP members must be prepared to
fight for the right to recall any elected or appointed official who no
longer represent the true aspiration of their electors.
Ultimately however, the most effective way to
eradicate the prevailing corruption syndrome is to fight for the
enthronement of a democratic socialist society wherein the basic resources
of nature and society will be placed under the common ownership and
democratic control of the working people themselves. Under this kind of
arrangement, production will be geared towards the satisfaction of the
needs of the entire society unlike the prevailing unjust capitalist order
where the common heritage of humanity has been converted into private
estates and fiefdoms of a few capitalist rogues in the name of
SD: The NCP was founded in 1994 in defiance of
military dictatorship. In the present situation of civil rule, what
strategy would you recommend for building the NCP as a mass-based,
SS: The formation of NCP in defiance of military
martial laws was a positive statement in the defence of democratic right
of the working people. Presently, the military has been forced out of
power for almost four years now, a constitutional government has come to
be, yet, a cursory glance at the socio-economic conditions of the working
masses both under the military and now shows that nothing fundamentally
has happened to make the conditions of the working masses better under the
prevailing so-called democratic dispensation.
The capitalist civilian
politicians across the country, across the political parties, have shown
themselves to be self-serving and corrupt as their military counterparts.
While of course, they do not have the boundless arbitrary powers of a
military regime, the current set of rulers just like their military
counterparts have exhibited a constant penchant for the violation of the
economic and democratic rights of ordinary working masses and youth.
Odi genocide, the Benue genocide, the ongoing efforts to frustrate the
efforts of the working masses to form and belong to a political party of
their choice are just few of the undemocratic and dictatorial tendencies
of the current set of civilian rulers. For the interest of the masses
therefore to be guaranteed at all time, the NCP must be consciously built
as a party of mass struggles, in and out of office, whose ultimate goal is
the revolutionary transformation of society along democratic socialist
SD: What are the prospects for the NCP in the
SS: Against the background of the bankruptcy and
wholesome corruption of the current capitalist rulers within the AD, ANPP,
PDP, etc., on the basis of the enviable pro-masses tradition and
anti-corruption crusades of the NCP leaders at national and state levels,
the NCP has a very good chance of utilising the deep-seated desire of the
working masses for a clear alternative to the present rot. It is very
important however to know that this will only happen if the rank and file
members of the NCP take the party programme and fighting tradition to the
working class people and the poor in general.
To this end, conscious
effort must be made to adopt pro-masses and grassroot strategies in
party’s campaigns and mobilisation. While the looters in government will
spare no cost on television, radio and bill boards adverts, NCP activists
must see as a priority mass rallies, mass leafleting, mass postering,
door-to-door campaigns among the working class people and poor in general.
If this is consistently done, the mass of the working class people and
youth will surely deepen their support for the party not only in the
coming elections but also in the aftermath.
IMF’S Failed Recipe
By: James Long
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has a
justifiably hatred reputation in Nigeria. This international agency is
rightly seen as one of the instruments used by imperialism to secure
implementation of the austerity policies, SAP and its successors, that we
have endured since the mid-1980s.
As part of its role, the IMF maintains an office here
checking the “progress” that Nigeria is making towards carrying
out the imperialists’ objectives. Regularly this office prepares a report,
the latest of which was published on January 2nd, 2003. Notwithstanding
the IMF’s completely pro-imperialist and pro-capitalist role, this latest
report confirms the utter rottenness of Nigerian capitalism and the ruling
elite’s corruption and looting.
Right at the outset the IMF states something most
Nigerians already know from bitter experience: “the high expectations
from the return to democratic rule for growth and poverty reduction have
not been fulfilled” (page 6).
Generally the IMF confirms that the economic situation
is worsening. In 2001 and 2002,
“the fiscal deficit widened, the
external current account deteriorated, inflation accelerated, and the
parallel exchange rate premium increased …an expansionary fiscal policy, lower reserves, rising
domestic short-term debt, and a weak banking system raise Nigeria’s
vulnerability” (page 4).
What this means is that the government is
printing money, what the IMF calls a “sharp increase in government spending” (page 5),
in a pre-election effort to meet some of its bills and boost the economy,
but the result is more inflation, further sharp falls in the naira’s
value, more debt and increased danger of another financial crash.
Understandably, the PDP keep quiet about this and
especially the IMF’s call for “monetary tightening” (page 4),
i.e. yet more austerity measures after the elections.
But even more importantly, the PDP also keeps quiet
about the IMF’s more significant conclusion that Nigeria’s economy
actually is shrinking, declining by 0.9% in 2002. The IMF directly
challenged the Federal Government’s official claims. The report states
“the authorities project real non-oil GDP to grow by 7.8% and overall
GDP by 1% in 2002 significantly higher that the (IMF) staff’s projections
of 5.3% and 0.9%, respectively …the (IMF) staff argued that available data on non-oil;
economic activity did not support such a high growth rate; over the past
decade, the non-oil economy had not experienced annual growth rates
exceeding 4%” (page 17).
Indeed the IMF report points to the good harvests,
because of good rains, and the growth of telecommunications as the only
positive factors in the non-oil economy (page 6). But both are not stable.
A good harvest can easily be followed by a bad one, the rains are not the
same every year. Furthermore, the telecommunications boom is dependent on
people earning enough in other sectors of the economy to buy phones, make
calls and use the Internet. As far as the rest of the Nigerian economy is
concerned, it is in decline.
Now it seems that there will not be any benefit from
the current high price of oil. It seems that this extra windfall revenue
is being used to import oil in an attempt to overcome continuing problems
at our refineries and ensure that there are no fuel shortages in this
Along with painting a bleak picture of Nigeria’s
economy, the IMF are damning on the ruling elite’s corruption. Referring
to government spending it asks that
“emphasis should be placed on reconciling warrants,
mandates and transfers by the Office of the Accountant General in
coordination with the Central bank of Nigeria” (page 27).
In plain speak, this means that there
should be full records of how and where government money is actually
spent, not just the formal budget plans. In an appendix, the IMF goes
further and write:
“fiscal data in Nigeria have historically been
opaque” (page 55).
Very diplomatically, the IMF suggests that this
“should start in the oil and gas sector. This could include the
publishing of annual audited reports and accounts of the national oil
company and its subsidiaries, as well as those of the private oil
companies incorporated in Nigeria. The next step would be to audit and
publish the accounts of federal government expenditure, so that the public
could see the uses of oil (and non-oil) revenue” (page 27).
How polite! But how utopian are the IMF’s pleas! For
decades the Nigerian elite have based their wealth on looting the country,
they have no idea of trying to develop the economy. Hence the looters’,
and would be looters’, massive financial investment in elections so that
they can grab a share in the nation’s income. That’s why there are no
accounts and, if any accounts where produced, they would be rigged just as
the PDP falsify the general economic data.
But this situation is not just a result of a robber
mentality. It reflects the fact that, in a world economy dominated by
imperialism, the local Nigerian capitalists cannot compete with the big
boys either in the world or home markets. So the local capitalists either
loot or become agents for the imperialist monopolies. This is why on a
capitalist road there is no solution for the Nigerian masses.
A report like that of the IMF gives only figures, it
does not say what the facts mean for the lives of the Nigerian masses.
Statements that the Nigerian economy contracted by
0.9% in a year have to be taken in the situation where the country’s
population is rapidly growing. The report gives the World Bank’s estimates
that in less than 20 years, the total population has grown from 83.2
million to 126.9 million now, of which 70.2% live below the international
poverty line or received less than $1/N130 naira a day. This means that,
on average, income per head fell by more than 0.9% last year.
The report also shows the gap between rich and poor,
the richest 20% of Nigerians get 55.7% of the country’ total income, while
the poorest 20% receive only 4.4%.
The report’s figures show how the past twenty years
have witnessed a terrible decline. To give one example, during these two
decades an average Nigerian women’s life expectancy has fallen from 49 to
48 years, while a man’s has remained at 47 years. In the same period the
there has been a huge jump of the numbers, 25.5 to 55.8 million, living in
urban areas as grinding poverty and lack of development forced millions to
flee from the countryside to the unplanned chaos and often destitution in
The IMF report offers no way forward, just the failed
recipes of privatisation to benefit the imperialists and rich, and
austerity measures for the rest of us. Only a break with the rotten system
of capitalism can take us out of this downward spiral.
NLC’S Delegates’ Conference:
Time For Labour To End Pro-Capitalist Policies
By Olamide Olatunji
The 8th delegates conference of the Nigerian Labour
Congress (NLC) comes up on February 6th, 2003 at Abuja. The conference is
essentially to elect officers to run the affairs of the congress for the
next four years.
There seems to be no serious challenge to the
incumbent leadership of Adams Oshiomhole, who looks set to get another
four years mandate. However, there is a need for a critical review of the
first four years of Adams Oshiomhole’s leadership.
Unlike the ponderous, openly right-wing leadership of
the NLC of Pascal Bafyau’s era, the current NLC president, Adams
Oshiomhole, has brought robust flair to debate on labour and other
relevant socio-political issues. Cogent facts and figures are produced by
the leadership to back-up its campaigns.
However, the NLC leadership’s propaganda and programme
all suffer from a fundamental weakness. Every one of its programme and
policy is always based on the illusory perspective of wanting to make
capitalism and its managers perform better, in the interest of the working
masses. The NLC leaders have retreated from their mid-1980s acceptance of
socialism as the objective of the labour movement and today see no
alternative to capitalism. Hence the labour leaders are unwilling to let
struggles develop to a point where they challenge the whole capitalist
The Adams Oshiomhole leadership has led a series of
national strikes against fuel price increases and also engaged some state
governments for non-payments of the agreed minimum wage. Also some
companies and banks have not been spared. But in the NLC’s campaign
against casualisation, the ambiguous position and pronouncements of the
NLC leadership on issues such as privatisation, deregulation and
commercialisation has done a lot of damage by creating confusion amongst
the working class and raising serious doubts about the ability of labour
to combat the ruling class.
The NLC leadership’s membership of the National
Council on Privatisation that has been overseeing the sales of public
assets has also not helped matters Instead of openly mobilising against
the sales of public property, Adams Oshiomhole is saying that
“workers should be allowed to buy part of the companies” as if
the workers even if allowed to ‘buy’ have the money to do so. The NLC
leadership hinges its support for the sales of NITEL, NEPA, etc., on the
basis of these public enterprises not being “functional”.
As socialists have always maintained, there is nothing
intrinsically wrong with public ownership of society’s economy and
resources. However for such public ownership to fully flourish, there must
be actual “public” working class democratic control and management of all
publicly owned resources.
Wherever publicly owned resources and properties
are left under the management and control of individualistic,
bureaucratic, capitalists elements, it has always produced disastrous
consequences against the economic and political interests of the working
masses. Under this kind of arrangement, corruption, nepotism, red-tapism,
mismanagement, etc., are bound to be the order of the day. It was
precisely this lack of working class democratic control over the
nationalised and centralised economies of the former Soviet Union and
Eastern Europe that led to the eventual collapse of these Stalinists
For the same reasons, NITEL, NEPA, etc., are not
working not because they were not given sufficient money to operate, but
because most of such money were usually stolen in the best spirit of
“private enterprise” by its self-serving managers who are in no
practical sense accountable to the masses who constitute the bulk of their
The NLC under Oshiomhole’s leadership has waged a lot
of campaign on the issue of increased minimum wage, and since he assumed
office, the official minimum wage has increased from N3,500 to between
N5,500 and N7,500 for private and public sectors respectively. Regrettably
however, this has not brought about any fundamental relief or improvement
in the living conditions of the masses. While of course, as usual with
capitalism, a tiny layer of the working masses may have achieved a
noticeable improvement in their living standard, it has been a different
ball game for the generality of the working masses.
On the basis of this increment alone, hundreds of
thousands across the country have been retrenched by the different
sections of the employers, on the pretext that those sacked could not be
conveniently paid by their employers as a result of this increment. For
this same reason, a state of virtual embargo against new employment
Even thousands of those that have been unjustly retrenched, like
those in Lagos state are yet to be paid their terminal benefits since
after their unjust sack. As usual, the capitalists government’s excuse is
that there is not enough money to meet workers basic and legitimate
aspirations, meanwhile no matter how broke the government is, the top
officials and their capitalists contractors and friends will always find
enough money to meet their own selfish ends.
Therefore, the minimum wage issue must be seen by
socialists and working class activists as an issue that can never be
satisfactorily permanently resolved in favour of the working class within
the framework of capitalism. Whatever concessions the capitalists are
forced to make in new minimum wage will always be negated by other
This could be in form of back log of arrears
of salaries and allowances, mass retrenchment of workers,
commercialisation of indispensable social services like housing, health
care, education, water, electricity, telecommunications, etc.
Unfortunately however, the current NLC leadership gives the impression
that adequate minimum wage can be won within the framework of capitalism.
This is a fundamental error.
Labour politics is equally fundamentally flawed.
Truly, Adams Oshiomhole’s leadership has consistently raised criticism
about corruption in high places. It has even organised protests and
demonstrations against perceived corrupt tendencies of members of the
National Assembly at a time. Sadly enough, this critique is usually done
with a view of getting capitalist state functionaries or sections of the
ruling class to effect necessary changes. Sadly however, the NLC
leadership has failed to draw the appropriate conclusion that what the
labouring masses need is a clean break with the policies and parties of
the capitalist class.
The NLC leadership also sponsored and formed the Party
for Social Democracy (PSD), one of the parties newly registered by INEC.
But because of its pro-capitalist programme, its lack of a fighting
strategy and the lack-lustre record of labour leaders, this party so far
has not attracted support of even workers, talk less of other strata of
the oppressed masses.
However, socialists and working class activists must
not regard these fundamental shortcomings of the Oshiomhole leadership as
a personal or national peculiarity. Rather, this should be seen as part of
the world-wide, right-wing shift and ideological retreat by the labour
leadership following the collapse of the Stalinist states, which were
erroneously equated with socialism. Therefore, part of our central task
today is to fight for the acceptance of basic socialist explanations and
approaches in the day-to-day struggle of the working masses, in the trade
unions and within youth organisations.
There is the need to return labour to its best radical
past. The trade union movement needs to be rebuilt ideologically and
organisationally, with educational programmes and mobilisation activities.
There must be grassroot democracy in unions, with rank and file control
over the policies of the unions and the leadership. Opportunist and
corrupt leaders should be replaced democratically.
To reduce the
corruption and careerism, which have eaten deep into the unions, labour
leaders at all levels must be democratically elected and should receive
not more than the wage of an average skill worker. Without this kind of
approach, the current NLC leadership’s selective economic and political
radicalism will soon completely run out of steam. It is never given that a
correct political understanding and bold leadership will always
automatically win every struggle. Even then, it will be easier for workers
to recognise the reasons why a particular objective can not be attained
and what should be done to achieve same.
Sporadic campaigns against the privatisation and
deregulation of the oil sector, while giving support to the privatisation
of NEPA and NITEL will always leave workers confused and ideologically
unprepared. The conclusion has to be sharply drawn that the working masses
need to carry out protracted mass struggles and strikes with the ultimate
goal of overthrowing the prevailing unjust capitalist system.
The point to be stressed is that only a socialist
society can provide the socio-economic framework, where production and
services will be primarily planned for use and satisfaction of the needs
and aspirations of everybody. Under a genuine socialist government of
workers and poor peasants, there will be less need and opportunities for
profiteering and racketeering which are the hallmarks of the prevailing
unjust capitalist system. Unless this outlook forms the basis of
Oshiomhole’s NLC in the coming period, its seemingly radical and
progressive stance on certain issues affecting the working masses will
always inevitably end in cul-de-sac and even outright betrayal of the
OAU Closure: The Issue At Stake
By Mojeed Ibrahim
The students of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife
have been out of classrooms since June 2002 and the authorities have
announced the new regime of fees with the introduction of new charges and
increase in the payable fees.
The students are supposed to have resumed since
September 2002. The perpetual closure is as a result of different
developments that have cropped up. These developments stem from the
characteristic crisis of the education system ranging from
misappropriation, dishonesty and insincerity of the government,
administrative insensitivity to the under-funding. Specifically, the
industrial actions embarked upon by the non-academic staff unions and the
academic union at different periods are responsible for the closure.
In August, 2002 the university’s chapters of
Non-Academic Staff Union and Senior Staff of the Nigerian Universities
went on a joint strike to demand payment of their 30 month long due
(examination allowance) entitlement. They alleged authorities to have
misappropriated the funds meant for that purpose.
When this strike was called off and the authorities
intended to reopen the school, they could not do so because the Academic
Staff Union of Universities had ordered its members to withhold the
results of the students for the previous semester. ASUU exploited this
action to force the authorities and the government to replace the two
steps that were cut from their salaries. The authorities argued that the
scrapping of the two steps was as a result of a circular issued by the
minister for education, Dr. Babalola Borisade.
However, in spite of this
circular, the authorities of some universities paid the normal salaries
while some including those of OAU Ile-Ife did not. The lecturers
considered the action of the government arbitrary and as a slap on their
face in that it amounted to demotion of every lecturer by two steps and
more so since the original salary that had already been implemented before
the issuance of the circular, was a product of roundtable between the ASUU
and the government.
The government has now ordered the replacement of that
two step, but this after the academic staff had gone on a total and
indefinite strike over the non-implementation of the June 2001 agreement
between the government and the ASUU. The agreement contains allocation of
26% of the annual budget to education, recall of the unjustly sacked 44
lecturers at University of Ilorin, special funds for the state
universities from the federal cover, etc.
By now, there is no end in sight to the on going ASUU
strike as the dialogue between the union and the government has yielded no
fruit. This implies that students of OAU Ile-Ife will stay much longer at
home, in fact until further notice. However, at present, they are not
alone as they have been joined by the students from other universities.
Whenever, the school is re-opened, the students of OAU
Ile-Ife have to contend with the question of the school fees. To the
authorities the increment has come to stay and in fact they have refused
to dialogue with the students union despite the willingness of the later.
They have been using the closure of the school as a threat to enforce the
implementation of the policy. It can be recalled that earlier in September
an impression was created by the authorities propaganda machinery that the
students’ union was the obstacle to the reopening of the institution due
to its resolve to fight against the obnoxious increase in fees, in order
to divide the rank and file of the students and weakened their collective
resolve against the policy. It took no time before the truth came up.
Although, the efforts of the students’ union
leadership so far as regards the struggle against fees are commendable,
they have to intensify its mobilisation and campaign on this so as to
properly educate and sustain the steadfastness of the students who are
obviously are tired of the prolonged stay at home and may have been
thinking of backing out of the struggle. The students will have to be made
to realise that the struggle can be won only if the they take the pain to
take last step towards the total victory.
A mass movement of the students
on resumption will make it clear to the university authorities that the
students are serious on their resolve to fight to the last. As stated
earlier authorities may threaten to close down the school again if we
protest, we should refuse to be bothered and carry on. That is a pointer
to the victory. It should be noted that balance of forces between
authorities and the union will determine the outcome of the struggle..
The union leadership will also have to enlighten the
students on the need to appreciate the essence of the current ASUU
struggle which is revamping of education with proper funding, justice for
their colleagues in UNILORIN, among other legitimate demands. The students
ought to fight along with the staff and not unduly attacking them.
However, the union should also agitate for the need
for a joint action of all students and the staff unions within the
university system. It is only the alliance of the oppressed strata of any
society, led by focused working class leadership with anti-capitalist
programmes that can fight and win a better living conditions and welfare
for the people on a lasting basis. Moreover, the Federal Government will
not have the cause to blackmail any union as being fighting for their
selfish interest alone.
The Global Struggle For Socialism
BRAZIL: Lula’s Election A Step Forward But…….
-Andre Ferarri, a member of Revolutionary Socialist,
the Marxist Tendency inside the Workers’ Party (PT), Brazil
The 8th World Congress of the Committee for A Workers
International (CWI), the revolutionary socialist organisation to which DSM
is affiliated, took place in Belgium last November. The conference was
attended by 125 delegates and visitors from 25 countries. The DSM
representatives at the meeting asked some of the delegates about the
situations in their countries. The excerpts from the interviews are
presented in these two pages:
The recent election of Lula in Brazil has raised the
hopes internationally, particularly in the third world countries like
Nigeria, amongst the working masses of the prospect of a radical shift
from the prevailing global pro-rich, pro-capitalist policies to ones
geared towards fundamental improvements in the living standard of the
ordinary Brazilian masses. What in your views are significance of Lula’s
election? What are the programmes and outlook of Lula and the PT
leadership? Are they capable of bailing Brazil out of its social and
Andre: On the question of election of Lula, we think
that it was a big step forward for the working class in Brazil. Lula is a
former metal workers who first because publicly known as a representative
of metal workers in the ABC industrial districts around Sao Paulo during
the military rule in Brazil in the end of the 1970s and beginning of the
1980s. It was the first time a country as unequal as Brazil, one of the
most unequal in the world, had elected a former worker as president.
Brazil is very close to Nigeria in some aspects on the
question of oppression and exploitation of the masses. In a country like
this, the election of a metal worker as a president is a big step and it
has a big impact on consciousness internationally. This election also
represented a defeat for the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie are mainly the
imperialists, the IMF and the speculators and bankers. They didn’t want
Lula victory in this election. They did what they could to stop this.
They tried to build a bourgeois alternative. When this
did not work, they tried to bring Lula more close to their ideas and
policies. But we think that the election of Lula was not in the plans of
the bourgeoisie. It’s a defeat for the bourgeoisie. But how should we now
view the PT’s situation and the policies of Lula? There is a danger that
the masses’ expectation of a radical change will be happen, does not
really happen. So, the election it is a big step forward but it is not
The PT in 1980s was characterised as a left wing party
that was against including the tradition of social democracy of Europe and
also against the Stalinists, given the experience of Stalinist parties in
the eastern Europe and USSR and so on. So, the PT in the 1980s supported
the idea of non-payment of foreign debt, the nationalisation of the banks,
workers’ control in the main sectors including the nationalisation of
multinationals and so on. It was a really radical left programme in the
Things changed in the 1990s after the collapse of the
Stalinists, the PT suffered a shift to the right. Now, the situation is
very different. The PT of the 1990s is not the same thing with PT of the
1980s. But there is still something left of the PT of 1980s namely the
mass base that PT has among workers and peasantry, etc. But now the main
intention of Lula during the election was to convince the Brazilian
bourgeois and the imperialists that he will not represent a challenge to
them. So, this was the main intention during the election. So, the PT
perhaps compromised with an agreement with the IMF because Brazil was in
August and September of 2002 in a situation, very close to Argentina
situation. We were talking of “Argentinisation”
of the situation in Brazil on the question of economy
and Lula during the campaign signed an agreement with the IMF that the PT
government will help to cut in social services and continue to pay the
debt, etc. So, the problem of PT during the election was not the
traditional problem of the PT. It was not the problem that we in the left
wing of the social movement and PT supported. But we think that in the
government, there will be a new situation. There will be the pressure from
below. From one side to the other side, there will be economy crisis with
the struggle not with the negotiation but with the struggle of mass
movement on the streets to put pressure with the breakdown of IMF, etc.
That is the main issue. That the mass movement will have to go to the
street and this will precede what will happen in Brazil in the next
What are the slogans put forward by your
organisation during the said elections?
Andre: Without the mass movement, it will mean Brazil
will go toward Argentina situation. There is no alternative to this. But
for us during the election, the first thing that we think was important
was to make clear that the PT we supported is not the current PT, is not
the position of the majority of the leadership of the party during the
election. So, simply, we stand against the alliance with bourgeoisie
parties like liberal party that has the vice-presidency now. Lula’s
vice-president is not a member of PT.
He is a bourgeoisie, he is a member of liberal party,
so, we stand against these alliances and during the election, we did not
call for votes in general for the PT-led alliance, we called votes for
Lula a critical votes because of the PT’s programme and the alliances. We
also called the vote for the candidates for members of parliament who were
from the left wing of the PT.
We thought it as necessity to give more strength to
the left wing of the party, not all the party with one of our slogans
“Our PT is socialist and without bosses”. Just to show the
social basis of the PT that there are really two PTs. There is one that is
close to the bourgeoisie and there is one confined by the leadership but
has links with mass movement and trade unions and the youth.
We also stood against the general economic programme
presented by the PT on the agreement with the IMF, on the payment of debt
and general economic policies. Lula for example said Brazil needs more 10
million jobs in the country and this generated big expectation of this
question. We agree that Brazil needs 10 million jobs and also Lula said
every Brazilian needs to eat 3 times a day and this is a big issue in
Brazil as there is hunger.
So, we supported this. But what we think is that the
only way to get this is to break with IMF and imperialist, non-payment of
the bad debt with nationalisation of financial system and with the
economic plan for nationalisation of some enterprises that are needed for
the economic plan of anti-capitalist and socialist character. We stood for
these during the elections and we went to build a support for left wing
idea as the left wing is still alive in the workers movement in Brazil and
also in PT.
We think that in the first period, the PT proposal for
social pact was supported by Bush strongly because they did want workers
to organise strike but just to wait for the solution peacefully. But we
think that some layers of the workers could have illusion in the first
period. They will think that they have the president now (a worker) with
the bosses in the table and the trade unions and the movement that they
are in majority and may be they could get something without hard struggle,
etc. For a period, probably, this illusion will remain, but this will not
What are the perspectives for the working masses as
a consequence of this victory?
Andre: In our own opinion, the question of return of
masses struggle in new situation with Lula’s government will be
prospective in the next period, in next year. For example, the question of
minimum wage for the public sector workers could provoke demonstration and
struggle, which has not been increased for 8 years.
The question of land, the landless movement and the
question of agrarian reform and the question of the demand of the
students’ movement that is very strong, etc. So, there is prospect that
the mass movement will be done with more force than before. There is also
the perspective of very difficult economic situation because, probably in
the next year, we will be in recession.
More than this, there is possibility of financial
crisis because of the problem of the debt in the country. This is a
time-bomb that can explode at any moment including the first month of next
year. So, the question of mass movement with financial crisis can provoke
an explosive situation like in Argentina but with a difference that there
is a little bit organised left PT and out PT can put the possibility of
building socialist force stronger than before. So, there is no solution
for the economic crisis if Lula doesn’t break with imperialist, IMF, etc.
So, that is going to be a build-up to instability, crisis, struggles,
resistance and the opportunity to build socialist alternative.
Sweden: Increased Support for Socialists
Ingrid Erikson, Councillor from Socialist Justice
Party on Umea City Council, Northern Sweden.
You had elections recently in Sweden. What is the
political significance of the outcome of the said elections?
Ingrid: Less people voted than before, the most
important thing was that the right wing had a catastrophic result. They
lost a lot of votes because people rejected their policy of big
privatisation and cuts in the welfare system. The most important issue for
us is to defend the public sector, the welfare system and also the public
workers and demand wage increases and better working conditions for them.
That has been our main campaign during the eleven years we have been
councillors in Sweden but also we raise naturally the question about
socialism being necessary to protect the welfare system. In the long run,
we have to have control over the big banks and the big companies in
Sweden. Another important question is that of racism, to fight both racism
and racism that have developed in Sweden. We have grassroot campaigns with
young and old people who will be active every night and day in the working
We stood out in different parts of the town and met
people and discussed with them. I think we have the most energetic
campaign in all the parts of our town and the response was really good. We
have very strong feeling that a lot of people spoke about us. They
discussed us on work places and so on. Not all of them voted for us, but
we had feeling that a much broader layer of people is looking at us and
are interested and follow what we do on our work and perhaps in the next
election, some of them will vote for us. So we increased our votes by 40%
and won an extra seat.
Another important issue is that people are angry with
the salaries the politicians give themselves at the same time as they
demand that the low paid workers should not demand high wages. We have the
policy that we remain on a workers wage. We get some money to be in the
council but all that goes directly to our campaigns and to our party. This
is a big thing for us, we always tell people that we don’t earn any money
being councillors. We do not personally keep our salaries. We give them
away to campaigns and so on. And also often in our leaflets publicise the
wages of other councillors and a lot of people like to read that and to
really get to know how much they earn, what privileges they have and so
But naturally, the other parties and politicians don’t
like it. They get angry. But in Sweden, being a councillor, there is not
so much money and privilege. You get some small money every month because
its only a part-time. It’s one day and most people have ordinary job on
the other days. But the higher politicians in the government and also in
the councils, there are those who work full time for the councils, have
high wages and travel to many places. We never do that stuff. We used to
display our protests against this on the fence outside our party office.
We were a bit afraid in the beginning that people will
not be motivated to stand in the streets collecting money. We have both
increased our subs and our incomes from the daily work with paper sales
and fund raising. And we try to use the money that we get from the council
seats to both to campaigns and investing in a better party apparatus.
The CWI of which your party is an affiliate
strongly believes in a party or organisation primarily funded by the subs
of its members so as to avoid corruption and influence of alien ideas.
How has the financial fortune of your party
(arising from the huge sum being paid to elected councillors) affected the
payment of the subs by the generality of the members of the party?
Ingrid: In the beginning, when we first were elected
to council in 1991, we had a lot of discussions about two and we were all
afraid that perhaps some members would think that now it’s not necessary
to be out in the streets to collect money and so on. But it hasn’t
happened. People are more motivated now because we have the council seats.
They can see that we can take issues from work places and from the streets
directly into the council. So, it has not been the case.
US: This is Bush’s Oil War
-Tyron Moore from Socialist Alternative, USA
The US imperialism and its allies are planning to
wage a war on Iraq ostensibly as part of the struggle against
international terrorism. How does the Socialist Alternative view the
reasons put forward by the Bush administration over this issue?
Tyron: On the question of Bush war on Iraq, we
recently held a public meeting called “Ending Bush’s lies -argument
for anti-war movement”. And at that meeting in January, we put
forward that the supposed motivation for war-weapon of mass destruction,
bringing democracy to Iraq and threat of terrorism the Bush is using to
justify this war are completely bogus. We believe that the real motivation
for this war for US imperialism is to give an example of its military
power and secure control over Iraq, which has the world’s second largest
The Bush administration is seeking to use the events
of September 11 to justify to American people and working masses of the
world US imperialist aims. So we say this war is fundamentally about the
attempt of the US multinationals, the US ruling class to create a new
world order which Bush senior initially declared. Now Bush junior wants to
fulfil his father’s dreams and establishing US capitalism as even more
damning and repressive force around the world. This war on Iraq is to send
a message to anyone, any movement, any nation, who will stand up against
the interest of US imperialism and to show them that they will face
complete destruction if they stand up against US imperialism.
Against the background of the terrorist attacks of
9/11 on the WTO, what is the general mood of the US workers and youths
over the proposed war on Iraq?
Tyron: After the September 11 of course, the nation
was shocked into confusion. US workers raged at the mass destruction in
New York in particular and are enraged that anyone for any reason who
chose to conduct this outrageous attack on ordinary New York workers.
However, in the aftermath of Bush war on Afghanistan and now the
preparation of war on Iraq, the mood has so much shifted. In fact, we see
a tremendous polarisation of views in our society. There is still a
section of workers, young people and of course middle class who still feel
for security and therefore are behind the Bush administration.
But there are growing layers who see the fact that
Bush is not only attacking working people abroad with his supposed war on
terrorism but is using the strength that he gained from this war to cut
living standards at home by attacking working people, young people and
immigrants. So, there is a growing mood of anti-Bush sentiment and that is
crystallised in the anti-war movement in the US which is big now, before
the war on Iraq has actually started, as was the anti-Vietnam war movement
in the late 1960s and early 1970s after 5, 10 years of fighting. The
culminating event of the anti-Vietnam war movement was 200,000 people
marching in the Washington DC , today’s anti-Iraq war protests have been
at least the same size.
As the most developed capitalist country in the
world today, that is a country accounting for 76% of the total economies
of the advanced capitalist countries in the western hemisphere, what is
the living standard of the American working class like?
Tyron: Living standard of American workers is quite
different and I think most people around the world imagine is nothing like
you see on the TV or on the movies. In reality, American has one of the
highest polarisation of wealth in the world. The gap between the rich and
the poor in America is bigger than its been in the entire history of our
country today. And we see now the new economic recession forcing
conditions of the working poor even worse. So, most workers have been
forced to take two jobs, 3 jobs, the cost of living in many US cities is
rising at a much faster rate than workers are able to compensate for and
this fact is captured by the fact that an average American worker is
deeply finding it difficult with living standard.
What is the overall living conditions of the black
Americans today as compared with the pre-civil right movement of the 60s?
Tyron: Of course, the civil right movement in the 60s
tremendously raised, especially on the political level, the conditions of
Black Americans but from the point of view of social condition, actually,
for most black Americans, the situation has gotten worse. They face naked
racism and American version of apartheid up to the 1960s. But they
certainly face racism in terms of employment, in terms of housing, in
terms of schools, in terms of police brutality and on the question of
segregation of the schools, one of the major initiatives that the civil
right movement took up, in fact, today, even though segregation ego sense
has been bent, in reality, the cities and towns in America remain
And the public schools, in fact for all intents and
purposes remain quite segregated. And of course, the schools for young
blacks and other minorities in the US attract the worst funding, worst
conditions and these have expressed themselves in mass demonstrations
against police brutality, and we can foresee in the future a growing mass
movement of working black people in resistance to racism but also to the
economic condition and we think in the next period, this will express
itself in class terms.
What are the perspectives for the growth of the
socialist alternative in the US?
Tyron: I think the first thing to say is that there is
a tremendous vacuum in US society that is huge outrage, huge anger at the
establishment. The scandals of Enron and co. have had a tremendous impact.
But the fact is that the defeats of the last two decades have left the
working people without the kind of class consciousness that we find in
most countries around the world. And so, it is a question of rebuilding
the class consciousness and beyond that for a need of socialism for
building the fight for social condition against the capitalist class and
in fact, to take them over.
So, we feel that in the next coming period, there will
be explosive movement of US workers and youth and the prospects of
building the currently small socialist forces in this country are quite
good. We are setting a target in the next period of growth and we find
more and more as we go into community, we’ve getting a better and better
response. The old days of the cold war, with people equated
socialism/communism with totalitarianism are disappearing, especially for
the young generation and there is a new opening to socialist and
revolutionary ideas that we’ve not seen in decades.
The crisis deepens
By Olamide Olatunji
On the 2nd December, 2002, Venezuela’s opposition
leaders declared a national strike, demanding the immediate resignation of
the President Hugo Chavez. Earlier in 2002, the opposition had demanded a
referendum, which the National Electoral Council had acceded to before the
Supreme Court annulled the decision.
As it ground on through a seventh week, the national
strike has effectively crippled the oil industry; it has also led to a
shutting down of the state’s oil firm, PDCSA, where production has reduced
by more than 90% (and that is because the strikers chose to supply enough
fuel to keep the lights on and protect heavy industries, whose machines
would be damaged by a shutdown). Venezuela, the world’s fifth exporter of
oil, is losing around $50m per day in oil exports alone. The strike has
also started hitting other industries and there are fears of food and
gasoline shortage and increased street violence among the populace.
The Class War
The national strike (which probably includes element
of a lock-out) isn’t exactly a class war between the Venezuelan working
class and the presidency. Rather, the opposition is headed by the bosses
organisation FEDECAMARAS, most of the middle class and their
“civic” organisations, section of the military and the labour
bureaucracy in the leadership of the Venezuelan confederation of workers (CTV).
This bloc is also supported by the corrupt, rich ‘oligarchy’, which sees
Chavez’s constitutional and land reforms as the work of a “crazed
However, Chavez is no socialist revolutionary. He is a
former army chief, who retains passionate support amongst most poor
Venezuelans, which depends on oil revenues within a creaking capitalist
economy. The country’s is thus enmeshed in series of pro-Chavez and anti
Chavez demonstration often ending in clashes with police.
The background to this bitterly fought class struggle
is Venezuela’s parlous economy. Like other south and central American
countries, the downturn in world economy and the collapse of stocks and
shares on world financial markets has also hit Venezuela. Its economy
shrank by a massive 10% between April and June 2002 alone, mainly as a
result of the ruling class and international financiers moving money out
of the country.
Around $8 billion (equivalent to 8% of Venezuela’s
economy) was siphoned out of the country in 2002 alone. By some measures,
85% of the country’s 23.5 million population live on the bread line.
Capitalism has failed and must be replaced. In fact, the US government
does not hide its disdain of the Chavez regime (despite his own
limitations); he is alleged of trying to install a Cuban-style communism
in the oil rich nation. The US state department has called for national
elections as the only possible solution!
Forward To A Peoples Take Over
In April 2002, Venezuela’s oligarchy, backed by the US
administration, attempted a coup d’etat, removing Chavez and installing a
businessman, who promptly set about suspending democratic rights. The coup
attempt however fell apart on the third day, when thousands of pro-Chavez
supporters, mainly from poor neighborhoods of the capital Caracas, marched
on the presidential palace demanding his release and restoration as
The lessons of the April failed coup and the mass
protests that led to its failure should guide the Venezuelan working class
and should inform the need for them to organise to prevent the forces of
reaction from succeeding.
Democratically elected committees of workers and the
poor must be set-up in the work places and neighbourhoods, with armed
defence militias. Soldiers too should establish rank and file committees.
There should be no trust in reactionary officers.
Above all, the workers and peasants must build their
own independent and democratic movement and fight for a workers’
government with a programme of socialist change.
Israel/Palestine: Capitalism Is The Root Of The Crisis
Ariel Gottlieb, Mavaak Socialist (CWI Israel)
What are the issues behind the seemingly endless war,
suicide bombings, etc., going on between the Israeli state and the
At the roots of the conflict are, basically, the
socialist issue at work, meaning inability of capitalism to provide decent
standard of living for the masses of the region, the unfulfilled
Palestinian aspirations for a state and the fact that Israeli state tends
to serve the interest of imperialism in the region. Their term of
achieving peace of course is due to failure because on the capitalist
basis, it was not possible nor would it be in the future to solve this
difficult issue. Same also occur to Palestinians. Most Palestinians, their
living standard deteriorated, their living standard does not improve and
this meant that an eruption was likely to happen at certain point which is
what happened in September, 2000.
How does your organisation view the militaristic,
strong arm strategies of the Israeli state vis a vis the agitation of the
Palestinians for self-determination on the one hand and the security and
economic welfare of the Israeli working class people and youths?
It is clear that there is no military solution. It is
clear that it is not possible for the Israeli ruling class to quash the
intifada by force. They’ve been trying this for the last two years,
they’ve not been able to quash the intifada and of course these repeated
offensive incursion into populated are the curfew, the closure, etc., they
cannot provide security for ordinary Israeli. That is very clear to
anybody with opened eyes. They can perhaps prevent at a cost some of the
bombings but the presence of the army, the ongoing occupation, curfew, the
humiliation of hundreds of thousands of the Palestinians create the
condition for the next wave of bombings. So, we have in a way a dead end
now because the intifada strategy that couldn’t lead to genuine national
and social liberation and on the other side the Israelis ruling class is
totally incapable of providing general security and peace to Israelis.
You have many Israelis who are sent to carry out
reserved duties in the occupied territories repeatedly for a number of
days. Emergency call-ups are increasing. At the age of 18 or 19 Israeli
men serve 3 years in the army and women two years, after that they go back
to serve at least one month a year in the army until they are in their
40s. We now have a growing number of reservists who are refusing military
service not necessarily because of political objection but because they
cannot provide for their families. Generally, the conflicts are
exacerbating sharp economic recession. Israel is going through over the
last two years. It is not solely responsible for the economic crisis. The
other reason includes the world economic downturn but the Israeli are
paying the price for huge defence expenses, the collapse of stories
industries, fleeing of investments from the country, etc.
The militaristic strategies of the Israeli state has
obviously failed to stamp out the spate of suicide bombings by the
Palestinians activists of Israeli targets, what effects has this being
having over the ordinary Israeli people?
Put differently, has this
approach produced or likely to produce a mood amongst ordinary Israeli
masses capable of forcing the Israeli state to acquiesce to the demand of
the Palestinians for a homeland?
We approach this issue of suicide bombings not from
moral point of view because some action carried out by the Israeli
military and some of the Jewish Settlers in West Bank in Gaza strip just
as appalling but form the point of view of the strategy needed for the
Palestinians to liberate themselves, the suicide bombings turn totally
unproductive because the political outcome of these bombings is that
ordinary Israeli workers are driven to the hands of the most reactionary
politicians because they feel that their families existence is threatened.
An effective strategy for the intifada will be instead first of all to
democratise their struggle to build democratic popular committees to
conduct struggles from below and at the same time to appeal to ordinary
Israelis as well as soldiers against the Israelis ruling class because
Israelis workers also suffer from the policies of the government not just
on the issue of peace and security. They suffer from the exploitation by
the Israelis capitalists, from the right wing neo-liberal economic
policies of Israeli government.
What in your views are the issues and programmes
needed to achieve an atmosphere of permanent peace and economic security
for the working masses of both Israeli and Palestine?
It is clear that the National Liberation of the
Palestinians and the social liberation of the masses Israeli-Palestine and
all regions of the Middle East will only possible within the framework of
struggle against capitalism. Basically against the ruling elite of the
whole region which means against Israeli capitalism, against the corrupt
Palestinian authorities and against bourgeoisie of the whole region.
the struggle may not be united at the onset but as the class struggle
develops, as the Palestinian masses increasingly see the treacherous and
damaging role of the leadership of the Palestinian authorities as well as
the Islamic organisation offering no way forward, there could be
possibility of linking the struggle. So, its primarily the tasks of
Israeli workers and youth to topple the government and ruling class in
Israel and for Palestinians to struggle both against Israeli occupation
and against the wrong, repressive and corrupt leadership of the PLO.
through struggles on both sides will it be possible to create unity in
struggle that could provide basis for genuine lasting peace and we mean by
that creating, out of revolutionary struggle, a socialist Israel and
independent socialist Palestine. Of course, we call for the right of the
Palestinians to self determination unconditionally but the past years have
shown that there cannot be a genuine independence for Palestinians under
the framework of capitalism and the struggle to socialist state could
provide the basis for socialist confederation of the whole middle-east
which could then relatively swiftly move to solve the issues of poverty,
unemployment, on refugees problems as well as the right of Palestine
refugee. This is really the only way.
Living On The Thin Line Of Poverty
IONUR KURMANOV, leader of young communists, former
leader of trade union “Metaeeist”, Kazakhstan (part of the
former Soviet Union)
It’s now over one decade that capitalism has been
re-introduced into Kazakhstan after the collapse of the planned economy of
the former Soviet Union, what are the conditions of the working class and
youth in capitalist Kazakhstan?
IONUR: The result was the called, in neo-liberal
slang, the extraction of the economy. Now, we have total collapse of all
sectors of our economy and social structures which means health insurance,
schools, hospitals and everything. It was old communist party bureaucracy
which got everything in this country. And it was youth and the working
class which lost everything: hospitals, schools, free education, future.
Internationally, the collapse of Stalinism is
presented as the failure of socialism as an organisation fighting for a
socialist world, how does the Kazakh workers and youth react to your
programme and activities?
IONUR: At the beginning of the 1990s it was mixed,
although many people still believed in the vision of a about Marxist
system, despite all the terrible effects of Stalinism. But now, according
to social research, 80% of people do not like their position, the
situation in the society and 70% of people live on the thin line of
poverty. It is determined by the economic situation that very wide layers
of young workers came into our movement, came into socialist organisation.
It’s not just the problem of choice, it’s the problem of life, of
survival. People want to survive. We think that our main task now is to
free the communist movements, to free workers’ movements from any
remaining Stalinist influences. Now, a lot of people come to our
organisation, not to Stalinist organisations but to us. There are less
illusions in the West as Kazakhs can see that American, British, French,
Belgium multi-national companies coming in and buying everything in terms
of plants, mines and everything. This helps the real, anti-Stalinist,
UI Students’ Union Victory: Not Yet Uhuru
By Ojo Olajire
No doubt, the December 6th, 2002 judgement at the
court of appeal in a case between UI students’ union and university
authorities is a major victory for UI students in their struggle for
independent students’ unionism. The ruling will go down as one of the
decisive victories won by the students since inception of students’
unionism on that campus.
It would be recalled that the UI authorities filed a
suit at the Federal High Court, FHC, Ibadan, against students’ union over
an election conducted by students on 29th November, 2000.
The judgement at FHC delivered by Justice DJK Lawson
reads thus “— it is hereby ordered that the Defendants (Lawal Akeem,
Sangotade Tinuade, Wale Eleto, Musa Toyin, Bello Temitpe, Lawal Ibrahim)
shall be restrained from acting as duly elected officers and\or parading
themselves as duly elected officers of the students’ union of University
of Ibadan —- it is further ordered that the Vice-chancellor shall direct
that the students’ union shall conduct a Fresh election on or before the
end of the first quarter of the year 2001.
Not satisfied with the jugdement, the students’ union
filed an appeal against the order granted to the UI authorities at FHC.
While the legal action was on, the battle also took political dimension.
As a result of the battle, students were attacked with obnoxious,
anti-students policies, some students’ union leaders/activists were
victimised and some are still penciled down for ‘disciplinary’ action
through one of the authorities instruments of discipline students,
Students Disciplinary Committee, SDC.
The reason for all these attacks cannot be separated
from UI authorities’ readiness to desperately control the unions, both
of students and staff, not only for their selfish interest but to
implement to the anti-poor policies of the Obasanjo administration whom
authorities are representing. It is to facilitate the emergence of
pro-authority leaders in the students’ union who will be incapable of
defending students’ rights and interest at all time.
But while the ruling at Court of Appeal represents a
big step forward for independent students’ unionism, it should be seen as
an avenue to struggle for better welfare conditions of students and staff,
well-funded education, democratisation of all decision making bodies of
the management of higher learning etc.
A part of the battles ahead is the “review”
of Students’ union constitution by the UI Senate despite the Court of
Appeal ruling that recognizes the students’ rights of association and
independent organisation of their activists. The greatest headache of UI
authorities, however, is the determination of the Students’ Union to exert
its independence and free itself from the control of the authorities. The
November 29th 2000 election was conducted on the basis of a new
constitution. The constitution which had been approved by the Students’
Representatives Council, the legislative arm of the union is more
democratic than the previous constitution. The “review” of Union
constitution by the UI Senate, a body on which the students do not have a
single representative is very undemocratic and therefore it should be
thrown into waste bin of history.
The arbitrary increment and introduction of fees such
as ID card, hall maintenance where a bed space is being sold at the rate
of N3,500, N10,000 and N25,000 for undergraduate and postgraduate
respectively, with extraneous agreements called tenancy agreements, and
others. But with the education commercialisation and privatisation
policies of Obasanjo administration and constant demand on school
management, including UI, to increase internally generated revenue, this
means that students will be asked to pay more for not-up-to-standard
education they receive. So there must be a pounding pressure by students
and other change-seeking individuals towards hike in school fees.
Having gone through years of battle, the confident of
students of UI must be first of all restored back to the union. The
students’ union leaders/activists should make it as a point of duty for
proper dissemination of information to students if the need arises. There
is the compelling need to produce periodic leaflets, posters, organise
rallies, symposia, mass protests / demonstrations to educate students and
members of the public, and equally press home their traditional demands.
To guide against isolation, efforts should be made to have working
relationships with academic and non-academic union, labour union,
change-seeking organisations/individuals, and if possible a political
party that has focus and genuine leaders that have the interest of the
poor people at heart, with programmes and manifestoes where workers and
poor masses shall seek to struggle for power in order to an build new
society for all and stop the looters ruining us again.
More importantly, it should be cleared that a major
step that can gives total confident of students in the rebuilding of their
union is to ideologically reorientate and rearm the mass of students and
establishment of socialist groups. The primary task of these groups will
be the training of a new layer of socialist cadres among the students and
The primary task confronting all genuine
activists/socialists including the cadres of Democratic Socialist
Movement, (DSM), therefore is the task of rebuilding student movement into
a virile, programmatic, democratic, mass-based and fighting organisation
leading struggles against anti-poor capitalist policies and programmes in
the short-run and as partners of the working class in the struggle for the
transformation of the society. It is only the socialist transformation of
the society and nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy
under the democratic control of the working class will bring the required
long-lasting solution to the working masses, youths, traders, artisans,
professionals, peasants, of the country and no amount of tinkering of the
present market forces (capitalist) economy will alleviate the mass poverty
and misery in which poor masses are forced to live.
Without the persistent pressure and agitation by
students and other organisations like DSM, pro-democracy activists, UI
authorities as agents of Obasanjo would have succeeded in violating the
democratic rights of UI students by denying them the freedom to organise
and conduct their affairs independently. Who then says struggle does not
pay for a just cause. If we fight we can win!
NANS Zone D Protests Against The Victimisation Of
Victory Recorded At OSCOED
By: Alayande Stephen T,
NANS Zone D Coordinator
On the 1st and 2nd of December, 2002, the National
Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D and the students of
Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba held a protest march and a 2-day
lecture boycott on the campus to press home the demand for the immediate
reinstatement of Iranlowo Ojuri and 18 student leaders.
It would be recalled that the affected students’ union
leaders were rusticated and expelled following their roles in a student
demonstration of April 2002 when they demanded an improvement in the
appalling state of infrastructures on the campus with the provision of
standard lecture rooms, a modern well-equipped library, laboratories,
adequate offices for lecturers, toilets and recreational facilities etc.
It is on record that prior to the said student demonstration, facilities
available on the campus for learning, teaching and research were nothing
to write home with about 8-9 lecturers sharing a single staff room,
students falling over themselves to receive lectures in very small and
dusty rooms, library is of capacity for less than 50 students out of
thousands, amidst many unpalatable situations.
It is important to state that while the authorities of
the institution found the student demonstration as a necessary impetus to
awaken them to their responsibilities in providing facilities in the
institution as some of the demand of the students are now being gradually
met, they still thought it wise to make those who acted as the
“messengers of truth” the sacrificial lambs.
Unfortunately, it was in the cause of the second day
lecture boycott and peaceful protest march that a detachment of
mean-looking armed mobile policemen swooped on the peaceful congress of
the students, firing indiscriminately, beating and maiming innocent
defenceless students. Several students were wounded , seven including the
students’ union president (Ojuri Iranlowo) were arrested, tortured and
taken away to Akure by mobile policemen. They were however released
alongside the impounded Mercedes Benz 1414 bus belonging to the OAU
students’ union (one of the buses in which the NANS Zone D had used to
conduct the intervention to the campus) seven days of after the unlawful
It is disheartening that despite the current civil
rule with the toga of democracy, the current custodians of the peoples’
mandate who are supposed to hold the respect for fundamental rights of
citizens like Governor Adefarati of Ondo State chose to maintain the
Abacha like despotic manner, by giving orders to mobile policemen to shoot
at students, arrest, detain and even refuse them bail after intervention
We commend the revolutionary intervention and
solidarity of all the unions that have contributed to the struggle of the
Akungba 19 and most importantly the resoluteness and doggedness of the
students of the institution, but it must be stated that it is not over
until it is finally over, for if we continue to struggle and mobilise we
can win but if we do not, we have lost already. The battle continues
politically, legally etc until our colleagues are recalled.
In a related development, it is note worthy to say
that our struggle at the Osun State College of Education Ilesa, has
yielded some fruits, ranging from the reopening of the institution, a
slash to the reparation fee to N300, dropping of the planned victimisation
of students’ union leaders, purchase of a new students’ union bus by the
college authorities who had earlier sold the bus, conduct of students’
union election as against the supposed ban on union activities amidst
Lastly, this further buttresses our point that our
strength lies in our collectivity, we have nothing to lose but our chains
ASUU Strike: FG, Honour The Agreement
Joint Action Needed For Total Victory
By Ojo Olajire
Since 29th December, 2002, academic activities in all
universities have been halted as a result of industrial action of the
Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU. The ASUU decided to embark on
the strike to demand the immediate implementation of the June 2001
agreement signed between it and the federal government. The agreement,
which basically centres on funding, university autonomy and restructure
and basic salary contains among other things allocation of the 26% of the
budget to education in line with the UNESCO recommendation and
reinstatement of the 44 sacked lecturers at University of Ilorin.
The government has since flagrantly violated the
agreement. For instance, the allocation to education thereafter has even
been less than the previous one before the agreement and it has been
progressively decline.7.0% was allocated in 2001, 5.9% in 2002 and 1.83%
is proposed by the government for 2003 in its appropriation bill currently
before the National Assembly. Moreover, in relation to the 44 lecturers of
UNILORIN, the government has not only repudiated the agreement, it has
also openly aided and abetted the sustenance of their criminal and unjust
persecution by the then despotic Vice chancellor of the university, Shuaib
Oba Abdul Raheem and General Salihu Ibrahim, the pro-chancellor and a
former Chief of Army Staff. This is to mention but few.
The government and ASUU have gone back to the
negotiation table. The crux of the matter now is that the government is
calling for the review of the agreement while ASUU insists on its
Implementation. But meanwhile the government has announced the 30%
increase in the over head cost for the university and the full approval of
Universities Academic Staff Scale. This is a bait for the ASUU as it is an
attempt to limit their struggle to basic salary and to divide their rank
and file, since some members may tend to jump at such carrot. The struggle
of ASUU as contained in the agreement is to revamp the collapsing
However, it is instructive to state that while the
struggle of ASUU is commendable, the task of revamping of education should
be shouldered by the every staff union in the sector (i.e. ASUU, ASUP
COEASU, SSANU, NASU, SSAUTHRIAI, NUT etc. ) along with the Nigerian
students. There should be joint action among the staff unions and the
students with formation of a formidable force that can give the required
strength to the struggle. In the meantime, ASUU should take the struggle
beyond the four walls of campuses by organising public rallies and
symposia in order to enlist physical participation of the working people
and to mount a political pressure on the government.
This government’s brazen and shameless violation of
the agreement is not unconnected with its characteristic contemptible
attitude to the education in line with the IMF/World Bank dictated
neo-liberal policies of privatisation and commercialisation of education
and other social services.
Our institutions lack adequate and necessary
facilities for qualitative studies like libraries, laboratories,
classroom, portable water supply etc. The institutions are run like
military barracks with brazen infringement on the rights of the students
and members of staff to freedom of expression , association, etc. The
calling for the return of police posts back to campuses, by Committee of
Vice-chancellors, is a pointer to the fact that various school authorities
are hell bent to suppress popular and genuine struggles of students and
workers for better academic and welfare condition.
Contrary to ASUU position and demands of Nigerian
students, the government has resolved to shirk its social responsibility
of adequate funding of education as it has created basis, through
under-funding of education, for the authorities of institution to impose
various obnoxious charges and fees on the students. This has been making
the education the exclusive preserve of children of the few rich and
treasury looters. Moreover, the sorry state of our institutions, from the
primary to tertiary, is not a concern to the governments since they can
afford to send their wards to private schools or abroad to acquire good
education.. The education is expected to be funded from the abundant
resources of the country and the tax payer money not from the pocket of
the government functionary.
As ASUU and other staff unions along with the students
are fighting for proper funding of education, the sight must not lost on
the fact corruption is another phenomenon that has compounded the
financial crisis of the education sector. Therefore, we must equally
demand for democratic management of our institutions with the elected
representatives of the students and academic and non-academic staff.
Ultimately, the struggle must be linked with the
overall struggle of the working people against the entire IMF/ World Bank
induced neo-liberal policies of deregulation of essential services,
privatisation of commanding heights of economy, commercialisation of
social services, devaluation of Naira. The struggle must be equally
elevated to political realm for a socialist reconstruction of the society
as against the exploitative, oppressive anti-people and pro-rich system
Victimisation At Unilorin:
No End In Sight
By Lanre Akinola
It seems that the authorities of the University of
Ilorin (UNILORIN) have placed itself above the law. In the past five
years, UNILORIN authorities have ignored several orders of the various
courts of the land. It is on record that the immediate past
vice-chancellor of the institution, Professor S.O. Abdulrahhem treated
various court orders to reinstate both victimized staff and students with
When Abdulraheem failed to get the extension of his
tenure and he was eventually kicked out of office, the general feeling was
that the new vice-chancellor would correct various injustices perpetrated
by the administration of Abdulraheem. But, instead of correcting the
injustices, the new Vice-chancellor, Professor Shamsideen Amali is
determined to maintain the status quo.
It is on record that the National Association of
Nigerian Students (NANS) wrote a letter to the new vice-chancellor urging
him to obey the various court orders in respect of victimized student
activists. He was urged to ensure the immediate release of final statement
of results of Lanre Akinola and Rasheedat Adesina being withheld since
1999 and reinstatement of Tosin Akinrogunde, Hammed Balogun and Kayode
Mogbojuri in the interest of justice and in obedience to various court
orders on the matters. But, up till today none of the student activists
has been reinstated or their final statement of results released.
The administration of UNILORIN under Professor
Shamsideen Amali has also refused to address the case of the sacked
lecturers. Instead, his administration has been victimizing lecturers
operating under the UNILORIN ASUU Coordinating Committee. Their offence is
that they are calling for the reinstatement of their sacked colleagues.
To show the crudeness of the present vice-chancellor,
recently, he mobilized some deans and directors to make representation to
the Federal Government that UNILORIN community does not want the sacked
lecturers back on campus. But, the fact is that majority of students and
staff want the sacked lecturers’ back on campus.
Finally, the on going ASUU strike over the sacked
lecturers at UNILORIN and other matters should be supported by Nigerians.
Instead of calling on ASUU to suspend the strike, Nigerians should put
pressure on the government of President Obasanjo to honour the agreement
reached with the ASUU in June 2001.
Meanwhile, the position of the Federal Government that
ASUU should accept the posting of sacked UNILORIN lecturers to other
Federal Universities is laughable and untenable. This present position of
the government reveals that the sacking of lecturers can no longer be
justified but instead of compelling the administration and Governing
Council of UNILORIN to reinstate the sack lecturers, the government wants
Nigerians to believe that UNILORIN community does not want the lecturers
back hence the idea of posting them to other universities.
If truly, the government does not want to ‘impose’ the
sack lecturers on UNILORIN, why did the same government want to impose
them by way of posting on other universities? In any event, the lecturers
were not sacked because they were rejected by the university community but
for their participation in ASUU nationwide strike in 2001. Hence, the
issue that UNILORIN community does not want them should not arise.
Conclusively, the truth of the matter is that both
President Obasanjo and Minister of Education, Dr. Babalola Borishade have
realized that the sacking of the lecturers is unjustifiable but they do
not want to go against their earlier statements that the decision of
UNILORIN administration and Governing Council to sack the lecturers is
irreversible and final. The issue at stake is ego and nothing more.
NCP Rallied At Ajegunle
By Emmanuel Adikwu
Residents of the Ajegunle Community witnessed a
different ball-game entirely on Saturday December 28th, 2002 as members of
the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the area stormed the streets of the
community, armed with leaflets, posters and solidarity songs.
It was an eventful day as the procession started as
about 12.pm. from the secretariat at 5, Kojo Lane. Despite our limited
resources and materials, we were able to make the desired impact and it
goes down in history as one of the most important events of the party in
Though, the turn out of party members was not too
impressive as most members present were members of the exco which was as a
result of the festive season, the significance of the programme cannot be
over-emphasised. In fact, some of the people of the community even joined
us in the course of the procession while a handful of them demanded for
more leaflets so as to give to people in their neighbourhood.
The procession took us through Ago Hausa, Achakpo to
Tolu via New Road and down to Boundary where we all parted. So lessons
which have emanated from that programme, I think are as follows:
So many people who have been impoverished by the past
and present governments and who see the National Conscience Party (NCP) as
a party that can savage them from penury are out there waiting, without
knowing how to reach us. It is only through avenues such as this that we
can be able to get across to them and possibly recruit them.
The question of education also comes to the fore.
During the rally, some of our new comrades could not give answers to some
of the questions being asked by the people. This is as a result of the
fact that some of us are not truly rooted in the ideas, philosophy and
programmes of the party.
The issue of recruiting women also is of utmost
importance, as there was only one lady who took part in the procession.
And also, when next a programme like this is to hold,
we should provide more leaflets as that also constitute a setback in the
But in all, I think we have done well and should not
relent in our efforts to emancipate the downtrodden people of the society
form the stranglehold of the oppressors.
Minimum Wage Agreement:
Government Must Fulfill Its Promise
By Victor Osakwe
Sometimes in August 2002, at the height of the
impeachment saga when the National Assembly was planning to impeach him,
President Olusegun Obasanjo reaffirmed that his administration will
implement the remaining aspect of the year 2000 minimum wage agreement
from January 2003. . But since the beginning of the year, there has been a
debate whether the federal government actually accepted to increase the
minimum wage by 12.5%. While labour leaders insist that the federal
government did mention this, the leaders of government are denying that
they ever agreed to it.
The 2000 Minimum Wage Agreement
A cursory look at the year 2000 minimum wage agreement
will show that part of the agreement signed was that the minimum wage will
be increased by 25% in may 2001, 15% in May 2002 etc in order to bring it
level to the true rate of inflation in the country but ever since the
increase in May 2000, the government has refused to implement the other
part of the agreement. The government has continually waged a propaganda
war in the media that the chunk of the federal budget goes to wages and
that only a small percentage is left to carry out any meaningful projects
for the people. This is contrary to the fact the wages and benefits of
political office holders and official corruption, combined with inflation
of contracts is responsible for the consumption of the largest chunk of
government budget. The position of government is no different from the
position of private sector employers of labour whose interest is always to
keep wages of their workers low so as to continuously be declaring large
profits to themselves and their shareholders yearly while their workers
continue to live in object poverty.
As a result of the implementation of the May 2000
minimum wage agreement, hundreds of workers were thrown out of their jobs
all over the country. An example of such was in Lagos state where comrade
Ayodele Akele, state chairman AUPCTRE also the chairman of the council of
industrial unions (in the public sector) was retrenched with thousands of
workers all over the state just after the partial implementation of the
May 2000 agreement in Lagos state. Worse still, those sacked both in the
state and federal civil services are yet to be paid their pension and
benefits on required by law. While political office holders are awarding
to themselves huge wages and benefits backed by inflated contracts. Up and
down the country sacked workers are been on the street demanding for the
payment of their gratuities and pensions to no avail. The Nigeria Labour
congress (NLC) should take up the fight of these people while at the same
time demanding the implementation of the minimum wage agreement as signed
since May 2000. It is necessary to commend the ASUU led by Dr. Dipo
Fashina of Obafemi Awolowo University who has taken up the struggle of its
sacked colleagues at the University of Ilorin who were unjustly victimised
as a result of their participation in a nationwide strike called by their
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leadership should
insist in the implementation of the increase. It should embark on a
comprehensive mobilisation of all sections of workers showing with facts
and figures that the federal and state government have the capabilities to
pay the minimum wage. It should be ready to embark on a strike action if
necessary just as ASUU is doing. The NLC should map out strategies to call
out its workers on a 24 hours or 48 hours etc general warning strikes if
it really want to see that the minimum wage is implemented as signed as a
first step towards bringing the minimum wage of civil servants to meet the
rate of inflation in the country.
The NLC leadership should also draw into its fold the
hundreds of sacked workers as a result of the partial implementation of
the May 2000 agreement. It should take up the plight of the pensioners
both at the federal and state levels in order to ensure workers that if
the government decides to retrench or sack them as a result of the
implementation of the minimum wage agreement in full, it will meet stiff
opposition from the NLC or else workers’ enthusiasm will be low to fight
for the increase in the minimum wage and the fight would have been lost
before it even takes off.
While on the one hand, it is always assumed that an
increase in minimum wage always means that workers are going to be better
off on the long run, it should be realized by all workers that no amount
of wage increment will put a final end to the misery of all workers in the
country. The previous increases has shown that inflation has always led to
complete fall in the real wage of workers. Price rises of goods and
services produced by both the private sector and public sector has always
made the cost of living very high for workers. Increases in prices of
fuel, food, transport, accommodation, telecommunication, electricity,
education, etc, will sooner or later turn any increase in minimum wage to
It is therefore necessary that workers and all other
strata of society strive to see that the domination of the Nigerian
economy by the capitalists at both internal and international levels is
put to an end. This is what is responsible for the continuous
impoverishment of the Nigerian workers. The profit motive of all
capitalists will always make sure that what is given to the workers
through one hand returns back to them through the other. It is only under
a nationalised planned economy which is democratically controlled by the
working class can we see incessant hike in cost of living and thus an
endless cycle of demand for wage increases and struggle against
retrenchment and sack combined with lack of payment of pensions and
Victory For Kabelmetal Workers
Rufus Olusesan, a worker, trade union activist,
socialist and DSM member, who was on 7th December, 2002 unjustly and
arbitrarily sacked by the management of Nexans Kabelmetal Nigeria Plc,
Ikeja, Lagos, has been reinstated. This followed eight days of strike by
workers which brought work and other activities at the company to a
standstill. To make the strike action which commenced on 16th January,
2003 effective, the workers also picket the factory daily.
The workers were demanding the reinstatement of Rufus
who was sacked because of his consistent defence of workers’ rights in the
company. They also demanded the immediate resignation or removal of Mr.
Muyiwa Owotumi, the deputy general manager (human resources), whom workers
think was the architect of most of the anti-worker policies and actions of
The sacking was a pure act of victimisation. Rufus did
not commit any offence. No allegations were made against him, no offence
was stated and above all, he was not given any opportunity to defend
himself. The sack letter from the management simply says his appointment
was being terminated “for acts inimical to the interest of the
company”. Only Kabelmetal management knew these acts. But in reality,
the sacking of Rufus was meant by the management to serve as a lesson to
any union activist who may want to stand up to fight for decent working
and living conditions for their members. It was meant to keep the workers
in perpetual slavery and oppression. But workers resolved that enough is
The immediate cause of the Rufus’ victimisation was a
levy of N1,000 deducted from workers’ November salaries by the then
pro-management local union leaders in connivance with the company
management. The money was deducted unilaterally without any consultation
with the workers by the local union executive and the management. On 3rd
December, 128 workers out of about 200 workers in the company wrote and
signed a petition protesting against the deduction and demanding a refund.
The next day, 4th December, the pro-management local union leaders wrote
to the management asking that action be taken against Rufus Olusesan and
some other workers for alleged acts of “insubordination”.
The national leadership of the Steel and Engineering
Workers Union (SEWUN) played a commendable role during the dispute,
supporting the strike and picketing. The Campaign for Independent Unionism
(CIU) also helped to organise solidarity against Nexans Kabelmetal both
within and outside Nigeria. As a result, some trade unionists and working
class organisations in Nigeria and abroad wrote to the company management
to demand the recall of Rufus Olusesan. Protest letters were sent to the
company from Germany, Britain, Belgium and United States.
The workers are still demanding the refund of N1,000
deduction, the removal of Mr. Muyiwa Owotumi, an end to the victimisation
of union activists, refund of the National Housing Fund deducted from
workers’ salaries, and an end to casual labour.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) salutes the
workers on their well-deserved victory which shows that only struggle can
guarantee victory for the working class. We call on the new union
executives, who were elected during the struggle with Rufus as the
chairman, to conduct the affairs of the union in an open, transparent and
democratic manner. Mass meetings of workers should be held regularly to
discuss the programmes of the union and take collective decisions.
Stop Us War Machine
By Peluola Adewale
The Gulf is now in a serious nightmare, the incubus of
monstrous American war machine has gripped the region. The Armageddon has
concluded preparation to pay visit; blood shall flow. All for the oil. The
chief warmonger, George Bush has deployed over 150,000 soldiers, airmen,
sailors and marines out of the 250,000 billed by the Pentagon to wreck
havoc in Iraq, to the Gulf. Tony Blair has sent 25,000 troops, a quarter
of the entire British Army, and much of the Royal Navy as well. This was
much before the United Nations weapon inspectors led by Hans Blix and
Mohammed El Baradei of the International Atomic Energy agency submitted
their first reports to the UN Security Council on January 27.
Hans Blix in his progress report on the two-month
weapon inspection stated that Iraq had only reluctantly complied with the
United Nation’s latest demand to disarm and that there was no genuine
co-operation from Iraq. He said further that Iraq left large gaps in its
December 7 2002 12,000 page arms declaration. According to him Iraq had
not accounted for up to 300 rocket engines and 650 chemical bombs.
Moreover, Iraq blocked private interviews with the scientists and it
balked at U2 surveillance flights over the whole country, Hans Blix
stated. However, Blix was unable to corroborate the claims of the US that
Iraq had rebuilt the weapon of mass destruction arsenal, saying that he
could not give a categorical verdict. Equally, Mohammed El-Baradei in his
report said that he had no proof of an Iraqi nuclear weapon programme.
And, unlike Blix, he asked the Security Council to give more time for
their work to be comprehensive.
These reports were seized upon by the US and British
governments to step up their propaganda for war. To Bush, the whole
essence of the weapon inspection is to justify the planned military action
by all means and to probably carry along more countries particularly among
those permanent members of the Security Council who are still not prepared
to support immediate war.
Oil For Blood – The Actual Reason For The War
As at present, Bush has looked beyond the war; he has
started thinking of the post Sadaam Iraq. Colin Powell has made clear that
the US plans that its military will take the essential decisions in the
event of winning a war. To sugar this pill the Bush administration said,
in a report sent to the Congress on Tuesday January 21 2003, ‘Should it
become necessary to take military action against Iraq the United States,
together with its coalition partners will play a role in helping to meet
the humanitarian, reconstruction and administrative challenges facing the
country in the immediate after the conflict’. The report further stated
that, ‘The US is fully committed to stay as long as necessary to fulfil
these responsibilities, but is equally to leave as soon as the Iraqi
people are in position to carry those responsibilities’.
There can be no doubt that the US’s agenda is ‘regime
change’ in Iraq. Although, the US has tried to make the world to believe
that raison d’être for the war with the Iraq is the possession by Baghdad
of weapons of mass destruction, in reality it is the demonstration of US’s
world position as the super power and its oil and strategic interests in
the Middle East that has necessitated such military action. To
holistically actualise these set goals, Saddam must be ousted, a pro-US
regime be installed with heavy US financial, material and military
backing. Bush is highly interested in the control of the massive Iraqi oil
reserve , the second largest in the world, due to the foreseen loss of
influence over Saudi Arabia with the possible ascendancy of the Islamic
fundamentalists to power. Moreover, the US sees Sadaam as a fly in the
ointment of the New World Order proclaimed by George Bush the first, hence
he must be eliminated or removed.
It should be stated categorically stated that Sadaam
Hussein is a ruthless dictator who deserves to be removed. Since his
assumption of office in 1979, it has been a reign of terror. On coming to
power Sadaam’s first victims were Iraqi left-wingers. He has only brought
poignant agony, hallowing sorrow and untold hardship to the Iraqi people.
The country has never known peace. He plunged the country into 9-year US
backed war with Iran (1980-88), the Gulf War 1990/1 and its attendant
economic sanction that has ruined the economy and claimed hundreds of
thousands of lives so far. The task of removing Sadaam does not lie in the
hands of the US, but the Iraqi people themselves. This is because regime
to be installed by the US would not be democratic but autocratic. It would
be a matter of Satan replacing Lucifer.
Scott Ritter, a former chief UN weapons inspector in
Iraq and an ex-US Marine officer has disproved the claim of the US
government that Sadaam has weapons of mass destruction. He said that his
team ascertained 90-95% level of destruction of Iraq’s offensive weaponry.
He stated further that
” this figure takes into account the destruction or
dismantling of every major factory associated with prohibited weapons
manufacture all significant items of production equipment, and the
majority of the weapons and agents produced by Iraq”.
More so, according to him, if Iraq were rebuilding
factories to produce new weapon, the evidence would readily be detectable
since the country has been monitored via satellite and other means which
has also made the procurement of necessary technology by Sadaam for such
production extremely difficult.
Hypocrisy Of The Us
Moreover, it should be noted that North Korea another
country, along with Iraq and Iran, that Washington has branded as part of
the “axis of evil”
has begun the process of reactivating its nuclear
programme after the Korean government chased out the UN weapons
inspectors, caused their installation to be removed and repudiated the
1994 nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. The Bush administration provoked
this action by cutting aid to North Korea but now Washington has ruled out
possibility of war in the reaction but diplomatic resolution. Quoting
Colin Powell, he said, “We don’t want to escalate any crisis, we
don’t want war”. This betrays the hypocrisy of Iraq Bush as regards
the nuclear programme or manufacturing of weapons as a basis for the war
The above stated view on the US hypocrisy was
corroborated by Richard Butler, the immediate past chief UN weapon
inspector when he accused the US of what he called shocking double
standard. He said that the US motive to rid Iraq of weapons of mass
destruction lacked credibility due to the failure of the US to deal with
others on the same terms. He pointed tot he fact that some of the US
allies like Israel, Pakistan and India have nuclear arsenals and have not
signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel has severally violated
different UN resolutions. Moreover, according to him the US and other
permanent members of the Security Council are themselves the possessors of
the world’s largest quantities of nuclear weapons.
Global Opposition Against The War
There is increasingly growing opposition against the
war globally even in the United States, but George Bush has refused to
grow goose pimples over that. He’s determined to go to war and hopes that
a quick “victory” will answer those opposed to war.
At Bush’s backyard in Washington there have been two
protests of at least 200,000 against the war. These protests took place on
October 26 2002 and on January 18 2003. The 18 January protest involved
nothing less than 500,000 in cities across the whole USA. Some of the
slogans of the protesters are, “America, not Iraq a ‘Rogue
Nation'”, “Disarm Bush”, “No Blood for Oil” etc. The protest had as
participants the relatives of the military personnel that have been
deployed to the Gulf under the auspices of Military Family Speak Out and
some veterans of the Gulf war: Veterans For Common Sense.
Internationally a mass anti-war demonstration took
place in London, Britain last September with 400,000 protesters. But the
size of this protest was overtaken in Florence, Italy, on November 9 2002
when1,000,000 (one million) demonstrators marched, the biggest so far.
many other cities around the world have also seen mass protests. February
15 has been declared as international anti-war day of action.
Demonstrations have already been planned to come up on that day in New
York, London Berlin, Paris, Rome, Athens, Oslo, Amsterdam, Cairo,
Three permanent members of the Security Council viz.:
Russia, France and China along with Germany a rotational member have, so
far, refused to support a war now. It has to be stated that this seemingly
progressive stands of these permanent members of the council particularly
Russia and France are not borne out kindness of heart or sympathy to the
Iraqi people but as a result of their own economic interest that are at
They have huge investment in Iraqi oil industry and their own
general interests to protect. They claim to be against the war, yet they
refused to veto the portion of the resolution 1441 that empowers the US to
go ahead alone after the report of weapons inspectors when the issue came
up in November,2002 They are trying to maintain balance so that whether
the US take over Iraq or not, there would be a basis to sustain their
interests. From all indications they will not join the US in any fighting,
but they may let a war go ahead.
Meanwhile in line with resolutions,
Collin Powell has started categorically that the US does not need the
security council and the superpower will go to the war with its allies.
However, in reality none of the tradition allies of the US except its
traditional hand bag the Blair’s Britain and Australia, is ready to join
it in its predatory expedition. Indeed they are all very cautious about a
war. Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, all allies of the US have registered
their strong reservations about a war, fearing that their governments will
be swept away by a tide of anti-imperialist protest if a war starts.
They were together with Syria, Jordan and Iran at a
meeting of the Foreign Affairs ministers of the middle East countries. The
resolution of meeting objects the war. They are all fearful of violent
civil disobedience and the rise of Islamic fundamentalists, the
development that may lead to the attempt to topple the moderate pro-west
ruling oligarchy of Egypt, and Saudi Arabia in particular. In fact, in
order to avoid the war, some of the countries have been asking Sadaam to
leave the power voluntarily and there is thinking towards sponsoring a
coup to topple Sadaam. However, either option, they are requesting
international amnesty for Sadaam and his associates when he is out of the
The Effects Of The War
To the US war mongers, there is no going back in spite
of the universality and the strength of the opposition against the war.
Bush is waging this war with Blair. The war has been estimated to cost
nothing less than $200 billion. Also the cost would depend on how long the
war last. No country except the US will bear the bulk of this massive
expenses. This is unlike the last Gulf War which cost $60 billion and was
largely paid for by Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia and others. Who will
actually pay for the war this time? It will be the ordinary working people
of the US and Britain that will pay the price through spending cuts and
The spectre of war along with the Venezuela crisis had
already pushed up the price of oil in spite of the increase in the output
quoted by 1.5 million barrels a day, the price of oil was still $33.98 as
at last week of the January 2003, the actual war in the Gulf would
skyrocket the price to the extent of pushing the world economy into
serious recession. The workers and the poor would be the worst hit.
The US will not be insulated, it will have its own
fair share of the effects of the war. Already, the US crude inventories
have fallen near their lowest level in the last two decades. The current
economic crisis in the US that has so far witnessed loss of 200,000 jobs
between November and December 2002 alone will be surely aggravated. This
together with any record of massive US casualties in the war, which is not
unlikely, will arouse mass political opposition and social unrest in the
Israelis have started procuring gas masks in the
anticipation of the attack on the country if US goes to war with Iraq.
Actually, Sadaam will attack Israel if the US strikes in order to provoke
crisis in the Middle East. The Palestinians have been looking up to Sadaam
to avenge their ill-treatment by the Israeli ruling class. One of their
placards during a protest against the war in read: “our beloved
Sadaam, strikes Tel Aviv”, Tel Aviv is the largest city of Israel.
Iraq has also vowed to march on Kuwait if it is attacked by the US. This
is because thousands of the Americans are stationed in Kuwait.
In the Middle East, the sights of corpses on the
streets of Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq and the fellow feelings for the
suffering masses of Iraq would arouse anger among the Arabs and aggravate
their deep seated hatred for the US and the West. Besides, the resultant
tumultuous social unrest in the Middle East, this would lead more people
into desperation, hence the increase in number of the terrorists and the
justification for their action. Thus, there may be terrorist attacks on
the US and Britain which may not however draw much sympathy as that of
The War And Religious Crisis In Nigeria
Some religious volatile countries like Nigeria may not
be immune to the effect of the war. If the war break out, Nigeria may
boil, there may be violent protests in the northern parts of the countries
that may degenerate to killing and maiming of people, particularly the
southerners and Christians and to touching of public and private property
particularly the churches and the American and British property within
their reach. The attack on the churches would be as a result of the
misconception that the US is a Christian country. The extent of the
retaliation from southerners and Christians may set the country on fire.
In deed, considering the peculiarity of this transitional period in
Nigeria, the violence may be politically motivated, more so, since
religion is a means of satisfying political end.
There Must Be Anti War Protests In Nigeria
It is imperative now for the Nigeria Labour Congress
and National Conscience Party as an anti-imperialist political platform,
to lead the students, workers, the masses, Christians, Muslims, the
northerners and the southerners into a nation-wide protest against the
imperialist war in Iraq. Besides the need for the solidarity with the
suffering working people of Iraq in the spirit of internationalism and the
need to avert the looming global economic catastrophe that will have the
working people at the receiving end, the character of such a protests led
by the NLC and NCP will prevent the anti-war movement developing a
religious, particularly Islamic, character. Even if any demonstration is
organised by any Islamic group thereafter the risk of it being turned into
an inter-religious crisis would have been greatly reduced. In alternative,
an anti-war coalition may be formed to carry out this historic task. It
should be stated that the anti-war protests must be linked to the overall
struggle against capitalism and imperialism. War, like poverty, hunger,
homelessness, joblessness etc. are products of the horrible capitalism.
Massive Election Defeat For Arap Moi
By Okoth Osewe
The December 27th General election in Kenya resulted
in a massive defeat of the Kenya African National Union (KANU) and the
rise to power of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) which brought
together sixteen opposition parties. The defeat of KANU was historic
because it brought to an end 39 years of KANU’s iron grip on power while
it also marked the end of 24 years of dictatorship by the 78 year-old
Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi.
Mwai Kibaki, NARC’s 71 year-old Presidential candidate
who had also held the position of vice president and Minister for Finance
for 10 years in former Dictator Moi’s regime before he was sacked by Moi,
won the Presidential vote by over 3.5 million votes (64%) out of the 5.7
million votes cast.His closest rival, Uhuru Kenyatta named by Moi as his
preferred successor, polled just over 1.7 million votes (31%).
At a Parliamentary level, NARC got a clear majority by
capturing 126 seats (61%) as compared to KANU which assumed the role of
the official opposition after capturing only 60 seats (29%). What this
means is that NARC does not need a coalition government because it has a
comfortable majority to rule and to pass legislation in Parliament. Other
parties that captured seats were Ford-People (14 seats) and Safina (2
A new phenomena was that both Mwandawiro Mghanga and
Koigi wa Wamwere were elected into parliament. Both have been in exile and
been connected to left wing politics. Mwandawiro Mghanga, who lived in
exile in Sweden, was elected MP for the coastal province Wundanyi. Koigi
wa Wamwere, who was forced to live as a refugee in Norway after Moi’s
witchhunt on left activists in the 1980s, won in Subukia. Wamwere was
elected on a NARC ticket and the two could be critical voices in
Split In Kanu
The massive defeat of KANU was largely due to a last
minute strategic mistake by the octogenarian Moi who attempted to impose
an un-sellable Presidential candidate on KANU thereby splitting the party
down the middle. After the 1997 General election, the National Development
Party (NDP) made a pact with Moi’s KANU. This included a secret agreement
that at the 2002 elections, Mr. Raila Odinga, the then leader of NDP,
would become KANU’s Presidential candidate and help the party retain
This agreement was based on cynical “ethnic
arithmetic” that could have seen Mr. Raila Odinga bring to KANU more
than one million votes from his Luo community from where the NDP drew its
support. As soon as this agreement was sealed on March 18 last year, the
NDP dissolved itself and merged with KANU as election campaigns also got
underway. This merger followed the appointment of Raila Odinga and other
NDP Parliamentarians to the Cabinet. This was a move that heralded the
birth of what was seen as the first “Coalition government” in
Last year, as pressure mounted on Moi to name his
preferred successor in the run up to the elections, the Dictator committed
an expensive mistake that cost the party the elections on December 27. The
dictator dumped Raila for President and settled for the inexperienced
Uhuru Kenyatta, the youthful son of Kenya’s first Dictator Jomo Kenyatta
who died in 1978. The major reason why Moi failed to keep his promise to
Raila was because Moi was scouting for a puppet who could safeguard the
political and economic interests of the Kalenjin ruling class that also
formed the core of Moi’s kitchen Cabinet.
Behind The Scenes
This arrangement could also have enabled Moi to
surreptitiously continue pulling the political strings from his base in
retirement where he could have retained the power to sack the President by
simply expelling him from KANU. For Moi, Raila’s independence did not
match the profile of a puppet while the former detainee’s massive
following of more than one million voters from Luo, gave him ultimate
authority to make political bargains from a stronger position. This
compared to the weaker Uhuru Kenyatta who was rejected by his own
constituents at Gatundu in Central province during the 1997 Parliamentary
After Moi ditched Raila, the former detainee quickly
organised a rebellion within KANU to defeat what became known as Moi’s
“Project Uhuru”. The consequence of this rebellion is that Raila
eventually resigned from his Ministerial position together with other long
standing boot-lickers of the dictator like former Vice President George
Saitoti and KANU’s former Secretary General Joseph Kamotho to form the
The birth of Rainbow triggered a series of alignments
to the Alliance by KANU stalwarts as the party began to crack. As a crisis
of sorts brewed within KANU, members of the Rainbow Alliance quit KANU and
joined the nascent National Alliance of Kenya (NAK). It is the new fusion
between NAK and the Rainbow Alliance that created the National Rainbow
Coalition that dislodged KANU from power.
After the elections, the big problem facing the 30
million Kenyans is a crisis of expectation from the NARC government which
has promised free primary education, the creation of 500,000 jobs,
eradication of corruption, an end to embezzlement of public funds,
eradictation of tribalism among other hefty promises.
In The Hands Of The West
While NARC does have the characteristics of a populist
movement which supposedly stands for social reform, the background of many
of its leading lights shows that the leadership is pro-capitalist.
In the circumstances of dire poverty and unemployment
the Kibaki administration will not be able to deliver on all of its grand
promises on a capitalist basis. Delivering half a million jobs will not be
possible because the country’s major wealth generating institutions are in
the hands of Western multinational companies. The promise of half a
million jobs is further dampened by the fact that 11 million able-bodied
Kenyans are out of work in a country where half a million people enter the
job market every year. The rhetoric about eliminating corruption in high
office will soon evaporate because corruption is part of the capitalist
system of government which Kibaki has inherited.
During NARC election campaigns, the party
systematically avoided putting forward solutions to key problems facing
Kenya namely landlessness of millions of Kenyans, rising poverty, class
differentiation, privatisation of profitable State enterprises by the Moi
dictatorship, starvation wages which has ravaged over 6 million workers in
the country, collapsed health care and education system together with
collapsed social services.
Likewise, NARC did not address the critical issue of
the domination of the country’s economy by multi national companies
together with persistent intervention of IMF and World Bank in the
country’s economic and political affairs. There was no word about the
reduction of MPs salaries of half a million Kenyan shillings, the
re-instatement of thousands of retrenched civil servants and other workers
under the IMF/World Bank programmes together with measures to curb
external dependencies and internal exploitation of Kenya’s massive human
and natural resources.
Instead, Raila Odinga, a leading light of NARC, went
out of his way to promise that a NARC government will continue with the
privatisation of state enterprises while Kibaki, the new President, said
that his government was interested in working with IMF and World Bank. He
appealed to the two imperialist institutions to resume aid to Kenya.
From the Kenyan elections, what is clear is that the
Kenyan bourgeoisie has come to power after dislodging another bourgeoisie
party. The Kibaki administration will continue with the politics of
liberalisation that in reality, does not provide solutions to the crisis
facing the country. With a NARC government, the biggest progress could be
the opening of a “democratic space” in Kenya where socialists
(who were banned by Moi) can emerge with a clear revolutionary programme
that can effectively address the crisis of capitalism in Kenya.
Only a fundamental struggle for socialist change where
economic power is transferred into the hands of Kenyan workers and poor
peasants lay the basis for changing the poverty filled existence of the