Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Government of Corruption: Obasanjo and Atiku Must Go!

Government of Corruption: Obasanjo and Atiku Must Go!

– For a Working People’s Political Alternative Now!

By Peluola Adewale, DSM Executive Committee

When President Olusegun Obasanjo was in Singapore attending IMF/World Bank annual meeting on September 16, his attention should have been fixed on the tumultuous events rocking close by in Taiwan. About 100,000 people had literally taken over the Capital, Taipei, to press their demand for Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian to step down over allegation of corruption involving his wife and relations. Earlier, the massive protest in Taipei, which had been on for a week, had twice recorded over 300,000 people on the march. Obasanjo would have been praying against facing such nightmarish experience at home.

Obasanjo and his deputy, Abubakar Atiku, in their mudslinging battle have been able to force open the can of worms of corruption in Aso Rock, the Nigerian seat of power in Abuja. The newspapers are awash with shocking revelations of how the government with much celebrated “anti-corruption crusade” has been looting public resources to fund private concerns of President and Vice-President, satisfy the greed of their friends, relations and even concubines, and award inflated contracts to their companies or cronies.

For instance, Obasanjo and Atiku, whose government, in line with neo-liberal economic reforms has literally abandoned public education, have been diverting public resources by proxy to provide facilities like building, library and buses for their private educational institutions: Bell Secondary School and Bell University, Ota (Obasanjo) and ABTI American University, Yola (Atiku).

Remarkably, more than any other evidence, the continued and effortless buying up of public properties by Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) has confirmed the fact that privatisation policy, the keystone of Obasanjo’s economic reforms, is the mother of all corruption. The Transcorp, partly owned by Obasanjo whose 200 million shares in it make him a core investor, was officially launched by the President in July 2005 at the State House, Aso Rock Abuja. The company, which is granted various mouth-watering concessions to ease its pillage of Nigerian economy, has bought at give away prices, in less than two years of existence, public properties like Nicon Hilton Hotel, Nigeria Telecommunication Limited (NITEL), four of choicest oil blocs among others.

It should be recalled that in order to safeguard their profits and privileges, Obasanjo’s co-owners of Transcorp morally and financially supported the defeated bid of Obasanjo to elongate his tenure in office beyond 2007 (third term agenda). Earlier in 2003, the elements that constituted Transcorp donated to the campaign fund of Obasanjo under the auspices of Corporate Nigeria.

It is not an oversight that Obasanjo has not mentioned Atiku’s exploit as the Chairman of National Council on Privatisation (NCP) which prosecuted the unwholesome privatisation of the nation’s patrimony in their first term in the office and through which Atiku converted some public assets to himself and cronies. This is to draw away attention from privatisation as a veritable means of self-enrichment.

Right from the outset, the Obasanjo government has been neck deep in corruption. In the first 6 years of this regime, Nigeria ranked among the most corrupt countries in the World. In order to put up façade of anti-corruption posturing, Obasanjo has sacrificed some of his top government officers. However, it is only the Tafa Balogun, the former police chief that has been successfully prosecuted and jailed, though for less than six months imprisonment for stealing N17billion among others. Nothing is heard of, or done on others after achieving the momentary public relations stunt of “fight against corruption”. Obasanjo’s household is not equally aboveboard. The President’s late wife, Stella, brothers-in-laws along with Atiku and some top government officers were involved in Ikoyi House scandal. Obasanjo made scapegoat out of a minister and swept the rest of the matter under the carpet in order to stem the embarrassment the scandal had brought to his household. Many damning reports seriously indicting Obasanjo’s lackeys like Bode George over Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) scandal have been dumped in the dustbin.

This congenital corruption endemic, along with the Obasanjo government’s anti-poor, capitalist neo-liberal reforms explains why the poor masses suffer in the midst of abundance. Perhaps more than in any other periods in the annals of Nigeria, the country has amassed fabulous wealth from sales of crude oil alone due to its increasing price. But the very neo-liberal economic reforms that entail privatisation, commercialisation, cuts in social spending, etc provides enabling condition for the rapacious ruling elite to loot the huge but loose resources accrued to the country and transfer the public property to themselves at give-away prices to the detriment of the poor working masses. Thus it is not accidental, as a World Bank report reveals, that one percent Nigerian thieving elite accumulate 80 percent of the oil and natural gas revenue leaving 99 percent of the population to scramble for share out of the remaining 20 percent.

Today, Obasanjo and Atiku are at daggers drawn on who between them will continue to wield influence over the nation’s loot after May 2007 elections. Workers and poor masses must not pitch tent with either of the thieving camps. Rather, workers and poor masses should be mobilised by labour and pro-labour/masses organisations for an immediate campaign to chase out both Obasanjo and Atiku out of office. However, such campaign cannot be only limited to fighting corruption and looting. It must be linked with the struggle of the poor working people for a formidable political alternative to wrest power from the parasitic, corrupt ruling elites of all ethnic, religious and capitalist political parties and end anti-poor, corruption-prone neo-liberal capitalist economic reforms.

As we move towards 2007 general elections therefore we propose that the Labour Party, National Conscience Party, Democratic Socialist Movement and other pro-masses organisations should jointly work together to build a formidable pan-Nigerian working peoples’ political alternative with a socialist programme which include public ownership of the commanding heights of economy with democratic management and control of the working people themselves. This is to guarantee the planning and implementation of adequate provision of basic needs like education, health care, water, electricity, food, housing, jobs, roads, public transport etc for the vast majority of the people. More importantly, such a political platform must be a party that from day one intervenes, in and out of power, with workers and poor masses in their day to day struggles for improved living standards, against capitalist onslaught and build a powerful mass movement that can completely transform society.