INIOBONG UMOREN’S TRAGIC DEATH AN INDICTMENT OF APC/PDP RULE AND NIGERIA’S CAPITALIST CRISIS
INIOBONG UMOREN’S TRAGIC DEATH IS AN INDICTMENT ON BUHARI’S CAPITALIST APC GOVERNMENT, PDP GOVERNOR UDOM EMMANUEL OF AKWA IBOM STATE AND THEIR ALARMING RECORDS OF YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
FOR A NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION/ PROTEST MARCH AGAINST UNEMPLOYMENT AND FOR DECENT JOBS
The Youth Rights Campaign (YRC) joins all Nigerians especially the youth to mourn the tragic death of Ms. Iniobong Umoren who was abducted, raped and killed in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, by her assailant who had lured her by offering on Twitter to get a her job after she posted a tweet desperately appealing for employment. We demand justice including speedy investigation and diligent prosecution of all those involved in her death.
Ms. Iniobong, a 26 year old graduate of the University of Uyo and orphan, was a hardworking young woman who did not deserve to die so brutally and tragically for trying to get a job. Unfortunately however, her story is just one out of many. Several young men and women have disappeared while job-hunting or responding to job adverts placed online and offline by criminals of all sorts including ritualists.
No doubt, it is the desperate condition of joblessness and deprivation that has created the basis for Umoren’s death. The fact that she was raped also further highlights the enormous danger women face daily due to patriarchy and capitalism. It is therefore only appropriate to place the responsibility for her tragic death on the Buhari’s APC regime and the Governor Udom Emmanuel-led PDP Akwa Ibom state government. It is their capitalist policies which have increased unemployment rate, which is at 33.3 percent, instead of reducing it as promised by the ruling party in 2015.
It is also instructive to note that as a result of anti-poor capitalist policies, Akwa Ibom where Ms. Iniobong lived, has one of the highest unemployment rates in Nigeria, officially put at 51 percent which is above the national figure, despite being the state which earns the largest monthly allocation from the federation account.
We hereby call on trade unions, pro-masses’ organisations, youth groups and others to come together to organize a national day of protest march against unemployment, casualisation and slave labour and to demand payment of monthly unemployment allowance and provision of decent jobs. We make this call because we believe that the only way to mourn Umoren is to ensure no one else has to suffer or die tragically like her for seeking a job.
It is on this basis that the YRC hereby calls for payment of monthly unemployment benefit to all unemployed person until they find suitable job. For this to happen, a social register of all unemployed persons should be opened in all wards and LGAs as well as online so as to capture all persons that are qualified for the monthly benefit. The appropriate sum to be paid as benefit monthly cannot be announced by fiat by government. We demand that this be discussed and agreed between the Federal Government and elected representatives of trade unions, youth groups and unemployed associations and a legislation to back it up and make it mandatory on the three tiers of government promulgated in the National Assembly. This however must be linked with a well-funded public works programme to create decent and living wage jobs with good conditions of service and trade union rights for all those without jobs. This is to ensure that people are off benefit in a short period of time and are able to plan their lives including settling down and starting a family – something that would be impossible on a benefit allowance no matter how adequate.
Over the past 6 years, the only jobs created by the Buhari government are in the slave-labour scheme called Special Public Works Programme where young graduates are paid a misery wage of N20, 000 per month – a criminal breach by the Federal Government of its national minimum wage law which mandates all employers with 50 or more employees not to pay less than N30. 000 as minimum wage! The programme is also no more than a giant casual labour scheme because the workers have no permanence of employment, no condition of service, no trade union rights or pension – something which is also a breach of Nigeria’s labour law which frowns against casualisation under any guise.
The YRC hereby demand an increase in the wages of the Special Public Works Programme employees up to the national minimum wage as a first step, regularisation of their employment, improvement in their working conditions and respect of their rights to join or form a union.
Umoren’s death was unnecessary because given the wealth Nigeria has despite present economic crisis, full employment is actually possible. Capitalism and the insatiable greed of the capitalist elite is why this is not so. A struggle for job creation can therefore only succeed permanently if linked with building of a mass movement to end capitalism which breeds unemployment and inequality and for the enthronement of a workers and poor people’s government armed with socialist policies. It is only such a government that can put society’s wealth under democratic workers control and management and implement a socialist plan to ensure, along other basic needs, creation of decent jobs in the long run and in the short run, democratic rationing of existing jobs so that they can go round without loss of pay in order to ensure that everyone is able to work and earn decent income.