PRESIDENT BUHARI’S INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH IS UNINSPIRING AND INSULTING
SPN ADVOCATES A WORKING PEOPLES’ GOVERNMENT ON A SOCIALIST PROGRAMME
President Buhari’s Independence Day speech did not come as a surprise to us considering the fact that it is a neocolonial capitalist government, with the usual lack of planned economic projections capable of taking Nigeria out of the woods. The speech was rather uninspiring and insulting to the sensibilities of Nigerians.
The 2020 independence celebration was hinged on ‘togetherness’ while, in actual fact, the socio-economic and political policies of the Buhari-led government threatens togetherness. The only togetherness Nigerians have witnessed is the gang-up of the self-serving capitalist ruling elite to primitively condemn the working masses to a life of penury and misery. There is no justification for the monumental poverty and poor state of the economy given the fact that Nigeria is abundantly blessed with huge natural and human resources.
The Nigerian ruling elite and the Buhari-led government pursue revenue which is built on exploitation and extortion through hikes in tax, in prices of petroleum products, electricity tariff, increase in school fees, house rent etc. At the same time they have failed to improve production, services on a sustainable basis in order to lower the cost of living. Contrary to the lamentation over Nigeria’s population as indicated in President Buhari’s speech, human resources are the greatest asset if developed adequately. But the Buhari-led capitalist government, and previous capitalist governments, have run the country aground with a staggering 27% unemployment rate, the growing cost of living, about 14 million out-of-school children and excruciating suffering in the midst of abundance.
In fact, Nigeria’s about 14 million out-of-school children is the highest in the world and more than the population of Belgium and about half the population of Ghana, and it is an indictment to this administration and the previous ones due to their failure to develop human capital, particularly the sustained attacks on public education at all levels. The unemployment rate in Nigeria actually increased from 23% in 2018 to 27% making Nigeria the number of unemployed, 21 million, bigger than the population of 35 out of the 54 African countries. This is one of the reasons that Nigeria became the capital of poor people in the world. The only response of this administration is to embark on few, temporary and tokenist, poorly paid and insulting jobs and schemes as personified in N-Power, Tradermoni, 774,000 public works scheme etc.
None of the refineries have been fixed, Ajaokuta is still in comatose and these industries (refineries and Ajaokuta Steel) can gainfully employ over 600,000 workers but this government, like the past governments, have failed to resuscitate them in order to protect the private profit of a privileged few in Nigeria and internationally. Despite expending close to N2 trillion on the power sector since the sector was largely privatized and over $20 billion since 2007, only 56% of Nigeria’s population has any access to electricity through the national grid while most communities are mostly in darkness.
It is shocking that the President’s speech did not mention the growing banditry and violence in the north or the kidnapping and robbery in the south. This goes to show how disinterested the government and the ruling elite are on insecurity and violence. The government has failed to protect the lives and properties of workers and the poor, except for the privileged few who are guarded by armed police and military personnel, despite expending about one trillion Naira on defence.
The Buhari-led government, just like the previous civilian governments, has taken Nigeria back to the inglorious jackboot military era wherein the fundamental human rights of Nigerians are willfully and brazenly attacked. The Buhari-led government and Nigeria Police are currently violating Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution (Fundamental Human rights of Section 33-43) through its policies and actions. The fundamental human rights of Nigerians to freedom of speech, freedom to protest, freedom of assembly etc., are inalienable rights. Peaceful protesters are being arrested, detained and brutalized for opposing anti-poor policies.
President Buhari stated that petrol prices in Nigeria are to be adjusted and went ahead to compare the prices to other neighbouring African countries, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Ghana is ranked 49th oil producing country with a daily production of 100,000 barrels per day; Niger is ranked 87th of the oil producing countries and produces about 13,000 barrels per day; Chad is ranked 46th oil producing country in the world with daily production of 114,000 barrels per day while Nigeria is ranked the 11th largest oil producer in the world and does 1.9 million barrels per day. Egypt is the 27th oil producing country in the world and does about 680,000 barrels per day while its minimum wage for its workers is $116 (about N46,400) compared to Nigeria’s N30,000. Saudi Arabia is the biggest oil producing country in OPEC and third in the world with a daily production of about 11million barrels per day; its minimum wage is $799 (about N320,000) compared to Nigeria’s N30,000.
We should mention that Nigeria has one of the worst infrastructures with no viable social security, while the N30,000 minimum wage has not been implemented by most states and private sector employers. By this analysis, we do not absolve other capitalist countries whose ruling elites are equally running their respective countries to the detriment of the working masses, but it does underscore how badly Nigeria ruling elite is faring.
President Buhari talked of scarce resources but failed to account for the huge resources under its management. Moreso, the debt profile has moved from N12 trillion in May 2015 to about N28 trillion without any tangible thing to show for it except budgeting over N2 trillion annually to service debts. The Buhari-led government and the respective states are busy mortgaging the lives of most Nigerians.
It is clear that President Buhari, just like previous capitalist governments, will leave the working masses in more dire and poverty-stricken conditions. This is side by side the fact that a privileged few continue to amass enormous wealth at the expense of the vast majority.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) strongly advocates a socialist programme as the only the way to end this misery in the midst of abundance, create gainful jobs on a massive scale, industrialize the economy and meet the needs of all. As a starting point, the major sectors of the economy have to be taken into public/collective ownership, planned and placed under democratic control and management of workers and consumers. But for this a real change is needed, we strive to build a movement which can achieve a working peoples’ government that will implement such a programme.
Acting National Chairperson