Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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Committee for a Workers' International


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July 14, 2005

Round Table Conference:

DEBT RELIEF: A REALITY OR DECEIT

To those who made the Round Table Conference on the so-called debt relief granted Nigeria by the Paris Club, organised on July 14 by DSM in conjunction with the Lagos State NCP, ERC and CDWR, the programme was a timely rescue mission from the bondage of the orchestrated misinformation from government’s propaganda mills. Some of them including journalists actually confessed that they had just found the truth as regards the purported debt relief. Although the fact that the programme held in the week day and working hours limited the attendance, a youthful audience, plus 14 journalists from 11 media organisations, came to the conference that the organisers feel fulfilled its immediate.

 

More importantly, some of speakers and organisations that used to facilitate conferences on such topical issues in the days of the military, were full of praises of the organisers particularly the DSM for blazing the trail of alternative views and actions in the defence of the working people’s interests.

 

The speakers at the conference chaired by Comrade Lanre Arogundade, Coordinator, International Press Centre, were Biodun Aremu, Convener, United Action for Democracy; Tony Iyare, Editor Gleaners On-Line; Chima Ubani, Executive Director, Civil Liberties Organisation; Wale Eleto, Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign; Femi Falana, Deputy National Chairman (Southwest) NCP and Segun Sango, General Secretary DSM. Also in attendance were Rufus Olusesan, Chairman, CDWR and Waheed Lawal, Chairman, Osun State NCP. Ola Balogun a radical musician who could not make the programme sent his paper on the topic.

 

The participants at the conference, whose theme is Debt Relief – A Reality or Deceit?, agreed that there is nothing to celebrate on the purported debt ‘pardon’ by the Paris Club. Besides the fact that the so-called relief is at present an agreement ‘in principle’ with onerous conditionalities, Obasanjo, whose military government actually plunged Nigeria into debt crisis in 1978, has through this debt deal accelerated the process of Nigeria’s economic re-colonisation by officially putting Nigeria under perpetual IMF monitoring and bondage. Nigeria has to first of all sign a new IMF package called Policy Support Instrument and an agreement to submit itself to continuing IMF monitoring and pay huge sum of $6 billion by September before being able to qualify for the debt relief. Thereafter, it would pay another $6 billion for what it is called debt buy back.

 

Therefore, Nigeria is coughing up $12 billion to the Paris Club, which has in turn promised $18 billion ‘debt relief’. This is not altruism. The statistics reveal that Nigeria borrowed $13.5 from the Paris Club and has already paid the Club over $42 billion while it still owes $30 billion! (Guardian July 14, 2005). This implies that Nigeria has paid much more than what it owed. Besides, the participants argued that most of the so-called loans that became debt burden on the country were fictitious loans, which did not actually live the creditor country or were stashed in the western banks. Also, according to official statistics, it is only 2% of the projects supposedly executed with the loans that are successful. The $12 billion that is about to be collected by Paris Club is more than five-year budgetary allocations to all the states of the federation.

 

The participants agreed on an intensive mobilisation of Nigerian working people for mass actions to resist the payment of the $12 billion to the Paris Club and imperialist control of Nigerian economy and to demand unconditional cancellation of debt stock not only to the Paris Club but also the other categories of creditors. Already a date has been fixed for a follow-up meeting to prepare grounds for the action.

 

Seeing the debt burden as just a symptom of the overall imperialist domination and control of Nigeria economy with adverse effects on all facets of our life (education, agriculture, health, infrastructure, etc) in the spite of enormous resources of the country, the conference called on the labour, pro-people political parties and pro-masses organisations to come together for a united action aimed at wrestling political power from the quisling elements at the helm of affairs.

 

70 copies of the special edition of Socialist Democracy on the debt relief were sold, while some individuals and organisations had promised to visit the DSM Secretariat to get bulk copies.