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For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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18 May 2004

 

Press Release

PLATEAU KILLINGS: STATE OF EMERGENCY NOT THE WAY FORWARD, WORKING CLASS SOLUTION NEEDED.

1. The series of ethnic and religious killings in the Middle belt state of Plateau, that has claimed the lives of mostly working class youths and adults including aged men and women and has led to the declaration of an unwarranted state of emergency, shows vividly that the Obasanjo administration is incapable of managing the social-political affairs of the country and protecting peoples’ lives and property.

2. Regretfully, for us as a socialist, working class and youth organisation, the killings have affected, in the majority, the poor working masses – irrespective of their ethnic origin and or religious beliefs. In both Plateau (where the present crisis started) and Kano (where there were reprisal attacks), the affected areas were those inhabited by the poor while those either killed or turned into emergency refugees were mostly workers, market women, petty traders etc.

3. The affected working masses in Plateau and Kano as well as in Kaduna, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Delta and the rest of the Niger-Delta where there have been similar wanton destruction of lives and property, happen to also be the victims of the numerous poverty inducing policies of the Obasanjo administration including increases in fuel prices, commercialisation of education and health care, high cost of feeding and transportation, privatisation and commercialisation, mass retrenchment etc.

4. In view of the above fact, we call on the working masses, youth and women of all ethnic nationalities in Plateau and other places to stop allowing themselves to be used as canon fodder or pawn on a chess board by traditional rulers, ethnic warlords and capitalist politicians whose main interest is to continue to amass wealth, including land, to the detriment of the poor masses. After all, in the Nigeria of today, as a result of the anti-people policies of the Obansanjo regime, the poor are getting poorer without discrimination between Northerners, Middle belters, Westerners , Easterners etc.

5. We are of the firm belief that with the backing of the organisations of the working class like the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), pro-workers political organisations like the National Conscience Party (NCP), Labour Party etc, the civil rights groups, it is quite possible to put forward a working class alternative as a means of finding solution to the problems that have led to the killings and destructions.

6. The military-like imposition of a state of emergency on Plateau State and the appointment of a retired Army Chief as Sole Administrator, without even the slightest recourse to the civil populace in the state concerned, is in the circumstance an illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic act, which however, fundamentally does not represent the way forward. While it may have the effect of temporarily suppressing agitations on both sides, it will not remove the root causes such as , resource control, poverty, land rights, indigene-ship, ruler-ship and the nationality question, agitations over which, as in the case of Plateau and other Northern/Middle belt states date back to the pre-colonial, colonial and military era.

7. The illegal state of emergency also constitutes a throw-back to the past which, as it happened in the former Western Region during the First Republic, might lead to further chaos and spell doom for civil rule including the possibility of a military return.

8. The spate of social-economic, political, ethnic, nationality and religious crises in the country make imperative a sovereign national conference that is democratically composed and based on the representation of organisations of the working class and youth, students and market women, the trade unions, the professions etc to determine the social, economic and political way out of the myriad of crises in the country.

9. More fundamentally, the crises and the continued imposition of anti-poor working policies – for example the proposed fresh increases in fuel prices – make it more urgent for the working class to demand and work towards a system change under a workers’ and peasants’ government. Such will be based on the nationalisation and public of ownership of the commanding heights of the economy with workers’ democratic management and control in order to have resources to meet the basic needs of the people such as mass housing, mass transportation, cheap and accessible education and health care etc. Also such a regime will be better placed to address the problems of land and nationality. This will constitute a real alternative to the capitalist exploitative system that enriches the minority elite and pauperizes the working class majority.

10. Finally, we call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), allied with the pro-Labour political parties and civil rights bodies to immediately spearhead a mass campaign against the undemocratic and anti-poor policies of the Obasanjo regime. As a first step towards realizing this, we call on the NLC to set aside a day of national mass action, rally or protest to demand the immediate lifting of the state of emergency in Plateau state and the resignation of the Obasanjo regime.

 

Aj Dagga Tolar

Publicity Secretary