EXTENSION OF THE LOCKDOWN BY PRESIDENT BUHARI WITHOUT TANGIBLE PALLIATIVES IS INSENSITIVE
SPN DEMANDS THE PROVISION OF ADEQUATE PALLIATIVES TO ALL WORKING CLASS AND POOR PEOPLE
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the extension of lockdown by President Buhari without tangible and adequate palliatives for working people and the poor. This has further confirmed that Buhari-led government is anti-poor, insensitive and callous considering the growing state of hunger, want and despondency.
The Federal Government and the respective state governments are currently implementing different restrictions and lockdowns without addressing the socio-economic effect of a lockdown. There are millions of people who survive on small daily income as artisans, traders, labourers etc., whose livelihood has been cut short for the past two weeks; there are millions of casuals who are paid on a daily basis, all these categories of people are presently suffering. The reality is that many private sector workers will not be paid this month, some will be paid a fraction of salary while some will lose their job and there is no social program that addresses these problems.
We also note that even the very limited relief materials that are sent to communities are stolen and diverted by corrupt anti-poor capitalist politicians in APC and PDP. This is why we have consistently called for a democratic committee of activists, trade unionists and elected representatives of youth organizations and community associations to be in charge of collection and distribution of relief materials in every community.
The lockdown has further exposed the rot and fragility that confronts the Nigerian society, there is growing tension with gangs of boys in hundreds stealing everything on their way including bread, sachets of pure water, biscuits etc. Working class and poor communities in Lagos and Ogun that have come under mass attacks of gangs and communities have responded by creating vigilante groups to repel the attacks. We welcome the independent initiatives of community people to defend themselves following the failure of the government, whose capitalist policies daily create these gangs and their actions, to protect them. We however call for the vigilante groups to be non-sectarian and run democratically.
SPN has consistently called on the government at all levels to come out with adequate palliatives and for democratic management of their distribution so as to cushion the effect of locking down the ordinary people. We had previously warned that in the absence of a sustainable palliative, there will be anarchy. This failure of governance is attributed to the long years of implementing neo-liberal and anti-poor policies that organized production, services and exchange to satisfy the huge profit of a few at the expense of the vast majority working masses and thereby creating more poverty and inequality.
A socialist planned economy based on nationalisation of the commanding height of the economy under democratic control would have anticipated disruption in social relations in a period of lockdown and would have adequately deployed society’s collective resources towards meeting the needs of all.
SPN hereby calls on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) to take the lead in encouraging democratic self-organisation to organise supplies and their distribution– including action against profiteering and black markets.
SPN reiterates its call on trade unions, community associations and pro-masses organizations to mount consistent pressure on the government to implement the following demands:
1. A special grant of nothing less than N50, 000 per month to working-class households and the poor to ensure Nigerians are able to stock up in order to survive the lockdown.
2. Adequate provision of relief materials and democratic management of their distribution.
3. For payment of nothing less than N100,000 COVID-19 special hazard allowance to health workers and all workers at the frontline of the war against COVID-19. This must be combined with life insurance for all these workers as well as adequate Personal Protective Equipment.
4. No to discrimination in COVID-19 testing, a significant increase in the number of people tested per day, free distribution of hand sanitisers and face masks, and provision of quarantine and isolation centres at every local government.
5. The procedure of work at factories producing essential commodities to be altered to accommodate social distancing. On-the-site clinic to be immediately equipped to be able to attend to any health needs that may be required. A democratic committee compromising elected representatives of workers to be formed at shop floors to take charge and enforce these arrangements and also fight for workers’ rights.
6. Given that the lockdown will also affect commuter transportation, buses must be provided to convey essential workers from home to work and back while maintaining social distancing on the buses.
7. For cancellation of all working-class and poor household electricity debts.
8. No to job losses on account of the COVID-19 virus. End casualisation now. For the government to guarantee all employment and nationalise any company that retrenches or fails to pay its workers.
9. No to arbitrary arrests and destruction of people’s wares by law enforcement officers. End attacks on democratic rights.
10. Freedom of the press and the right to freedom of expression and association. Respect for the fundamental rights of citizens even while battling the virus.
11. Nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy under democratic workers’ control to enable adequate deployment of common resources to meet the needs of all.
Acting National Chairperson