Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM




After much hullabaloo, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan became president of Nigeria on May 6, 2010, consequent upon the death of President Musa Yar’Adua, who died in office after a protracted terminal ailment. As usual, several bourgeois analysts and plain self seekers, who always support any government in power, have intensified their spin work. According to these elements, Goodluck Jonathan is divinely endowed, stressing how he became a governor and now president without ever contesting election in his own name! Now, these voodoo analysts want ordinary Nigerians to have the faith that Goodluck Jonathan will use his alleged providential “luck” to positively turn around the economy and peoples’ living conditions. So we ask: Will Nigeria and Nigerians now experience positive development and improved living standard under President Jonathan’s dispensation?

Very significantly, leading government spokespersons have recently been coming up with highly optimistic statistics and data which all tend towards the conclusion that good times are already happening in the economic sector. To these self-deluded elements, all that is now required to sustain this alleged happy time is government determination to carry through certain so-called economic reforms usually favoured by global finance capital and their local anti-poor politicians.

Addressing a joint press conference with Ms. Aruna Oteh, Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) alongside Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Fola Daniel, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Olusegun Aganga gleefully declared recently that “our economy is doing well”. They claimed, among other things that the Gross Domestic Product has grown by 7.2% in the first quarter of 2010 compared with a contraction of 8.8% in the first quarter of 2009 and 6.55% for the same period in 2008. They also claimed that non-oil sector has grown by 8.15% as compared with 7.9% for the first quarter of 2009 and 2008 respectively. But despite all these alleged growth, unemployment is still officially said to be 19.47%.

A few days later, on July 28, 2010, while addressing the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the Governor of Central Bank, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi also declared that “there is no cause for alarm” as far as the overall economic prospects are concerned. According to him, GDP has grown by 7.63%. He said that there is now moderation in inflation, stability in foreign exchange markets, the inter-bank rate and market rate are stable and concluded by saying that the banks are now working well. And apparently to sustain these alleged good developments, he gleefully announced that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Industry (BOI) and commercial banks in Nigeria have put pen to paper to execute a N500billion deal to fund the power and manufacturing sectors.

According to Sanusi, “Things must change. We believe that the banking industry can be the catalyst for the sector. Every bank that has participated in the N130 billion we disbursed is to contribute its own share by at least N65 billion. Beyond providing finance, we are providing advice and impact assessment to aid the growth of the manufacturing sector”. Briefing the State House Correspondents, after the meeting, Minister of State for Information and Communications, Mr. Labaran Maku, profusely thanked Sanusi for his special “candour and depth” especially for his “determination to press ahead with critical reform inspite of pressures from vested groups to overturn the reforms which have saved the nation’s financial sectors from profound crisis”. Mr. Maku concluded by stating that “Government is confident that with all that is going on in terms of reforms and policy focus, the nation’s economy will witness sustainable growth in the years ahead”.


There are two basic lessons which class-conscious layers of the working class movement and youth must draw from these false claims of achievements, as well as revival in the nation’s economy, being made by top government officials. First and foremost, it shows that economic management and governance in general, under Jonathan’s presidency, is still largely seen by the bourgeois elite as essentially a propaganda art that has little or no bearing with reality. Secondly, it also shows the utter incapacity of the capitalist elites preferred policies to guarantee sufficient development and decent living standard commensurate to the nation’s abundant human and natural resources. While back-slapping themselves for the alleged wonderful achievements being presently recorded by combinations of their macro and micro economic policies and at the same time making false promises of sustained growth and improved living standard, every key sector of the economy and the living conditions of the overwhelming majority of the people have continued to grow from bad to worse.

“Between 1985 and 2004, inequality in Nigeria” according to the UNDP Human Development Reports for the years 2008 and 2009, “worsened from 0.43% to 0.49%, placing the country among those with the highest inequality levels in the world. Many studies have shown that despite its vast resources, Nigeria ranks among the most unequal countries in the world. The poverty problem in the country is partly a feature of high inequality which manifests in highly unequal income distribution and differentia access to basic infrastructure, education, training and job opportunities”.

Despite its abundant human and natural resources, Nigeria is ranked 158th in the world Human Development index out of 182 countries surveyed. Although Nigeria constitutes roughly 2% of the world population, the country tragically accounts for 11% of maternal death and 12% of the world’s under-5 mortality rates respectively. According to another UN survey, 92% of Nigerians live on less than $2 per day. Not surprisingly, the lifespan of most Nigerians have sharply declined with 49 years and 59 years estimated for men and women respectively.

Stable and affordable electricity, seen by all and sundry as an unavoidable element in modern economic growth and social development, remains largely non-existent for an overwhelming majority of Nigerians; while services for the minority, individuals and companies that have access remain ever epileptic. South Africa, which roughly has only about 33% of Nigeria’s population generates 45,000 mega watts of electricity per annum. Most lamentably however, Nigeria currently generates less than 3,000 mega watts of electricity per annum. In fact, by the time former President Obasanjo left power in May 2007, Nigeria was only generating about 2,500 mega watts which actually declined to about 2,000 mega watts by 2009. Here, it is appropriate to add that this pathetic situation remains, notwithstanding the fact that the country was said to have invested about $16 billion under Obasanjo’s presidency to shore up electricity production!

Education that is seen by all and sundry as an essential requisite for the overall development of society and individuals remains in the most debilitating condition. For instance, The Nation of March 17, 2010 reports that “Only 4,223 of the 236,613 candidates who sat for last year’s November/December external Senior Secondary School Examination (SSCE) of the National Examination Council (NECO) had credits in five subjects including English and Mathematics”. In its edition of April 15, 2010, the Nation also reported that only 25.99% and 10% respectively scored 5 credits and above, including English and Mathematics, across the country in the May/June 2009 WAEC and NECO July 2009 Examinations.

These pathetic and worrisome results were roundly condemned by both government and, non-governmental officials and private individuals. According to the above-cited publication of April 15, 2010, “The poor outing of the candidates compelled the Federal Government to summon the chief executives of the two examination bodies to explain the mass failure and proffer solutions. This was followed by a meeting of the then Education Minister, Dr. Sam Egwu, with principals of Federal Government Colleges in Minna, Niger State capital, in January. Even the governor of Ekiti State that prides itself as the “Fountain of Knowledge”, Mr. Segun Oni, read the riot act to principals of public secondary schools to shape up or be shown the way out, in the wake of the appalling results. The Northern Governors Forum (NGF) through its Chairman, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, had to convene a meeting of the 19 governors of the region to address the poor outing. In the Eastern region, the outcome of the examinations became a thing of concern to governmental and non-governmental organizations”.

Coming from the very elements that were and are still responsible for the collapse and growing decay in the education sector, the above quoted responses of the different government officials is both cynical and hypocritical. This response is largely cynical because it is these various government officials through their policies of education under-funding and corruption in all spheres of life that have created the conditions responsible for the prevailing abysmal failure in schools and examinations.

Way back in 2005, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in its Human Development index reports had already painted a very gory picture of the education sector in Nigeria. The report in part states: “Due to poor funding for education, education at all levels suffers from low academic standards; lacks the requisite teachers, both in sufficient quantity and quality. Even the few qualified teachers available are not sufficiently motivated in terms of remuneration or conducive operating environment to maximize their output into the educational system. Schools are over-populated and classrooms are over-crowded, facilities are inadequate and over-stressed, library shelves are empty and covered with cobwebs, while laboratories lack up-to-date equipment”. Against this background, the above quoted responses against mass failure in secondary schools examinations by government officials is nothing but sheer hypocrisy.

Notwithstanding the misleading impression being given by government spokespersons about the prevailing economic conditions of Nigeria, both inter and intra states roads and streets remain in the most deplorable conditions leading to constant massive loss of lives due to frequent motor accidents on the death traps being called roads. At the same time, Nigerians and industries continue to lose incalculable working hours as they daily navigate on bad roads in the course of their movements. In fact, a cursory survey of every basic aspect of life and economy reveals a feature of colossal failure and decay.


Recently, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, addressed the media on the present state of the economy and its prospects in the coming period. He proclaimed from the roof top: “Our economy is doing well; our banks are safe”. On top of himself for this alleged wonderful economic indicators, the minister declared: “We would create enabling environment that would attract both local and foreign investors. The creation of infrastructure is another priority of government. Power is the key of them. If you ask anybody what they really need now am sure the person will say power, power, power”. Right from the moment he became president in early May 2010, Jonathan had left no one in doubt that he recognizes that stable and uninterrupted electricity is an indispensable factor in socio-economic development. As a matter of fact, he presently doubles as de facto Minister of Power, in addition to his presidential functions.

Given the above quoted “happy time” testimonies by the Minister of Finance and Jonathan’s apparent commitment to once and for all tackle the problem of inadequate and epileptic supply of electricity, can ordinary Nigerians now expect to have access to decent housing, healthcare, education and jobs? Can industries and people in general now hope to enjoy functional infrastructures like motorable roads, uninterrupted and affordable electricity? Henceforth, can big industries and small scale ventures now have access to bank loans at favourable rates to both producers and consumers?

Most certainly, these are the impressions that are being sought to be created by President Jonathan, Olusegun Aganga, the Minister of Finance and the likes of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. But unfortunately, going by a scientific evaluation of the government’s central economic strategy, key policies and conducts, the very opposite of the promised condition or even worse outcome will happen.

While very tall on promises, President Jonathan’s economic strategy and policies are wholly based on the same failed pro-rich, anti-poor, neo-liberal paradigm being spearheaded by big business and the capitalist elements internationally and locally. Hear Aganga: “We would remove barriers to attract investment to this area. So we want the private sector to come and partner with the government on the provision of infrastructure. Government cannot do it alone. We know that we cannot afford to fund or finance the infrastructural deficit entirely from our budget. We know we have narrow means and we know that to fill the gap is very important and that is why we call upon the private sector to drive infrastructure development”. (Vanguard July 24, 2010).

Recently, while addressing a Town Hall Meeting, (fashioned after the United State of America’s style) at the Governor’s Lodge, Uyo in Cross River State, President Jonathan used the occasion to make explicit and extensive statements on his government’s economic strategy and policies. Among other issues, he addressed the central but very touchy issue of the availability and affordability of petroleum products for both industrial and private use. Hear him: “It is not in the place of government to be directly involved but to encourage private sector to invest in it. What is actually limiting the establishment of these refineries is the pricing of petroleum products which government wants to sort out. If govt will be involved, it will still be as a kind of private public partnership but not directly like having NNPC building refineries”.


Contrary to these boastful but fallacious claims, the prevailing economic paralysis within the country and internationally is largely a consequence of the profit-first strategy of the ruling capitalist elite worldwide. Here, two examples of how these policies operate in action are given. Under the principle of Private Public Partnership (PPP), the nation’s airports are being given to profit merchants in the name of “concession”. The idea sold to the public is that through this arrangement, the grip of a corrupt state machine would be broken and more revenues can be generated that would make it possible to guarantee necessary infrastructural and logistical developments of our airports. However, according to ThisDay publication of June 10, 2010, only the opposite of what was promised has actually happened: “The concession agreement was meant to boost the revenue of the FAAN. It was believed that private companies partnering with the agency would enhance innovation and transparency and ensure that all the cash points from both aeronautical and non-aeronautical sources would be managed in such a way to increase revenue … Instead of boosting the revenue of the Agency, the concessionaries have left the organization in dire financial strait. (A FAAN source said) ‘In the past, FAAN never owed its workers but since these concessionaries took charge of the revenue sources of the authority, we have been finding it difficult to pay workers. Look at the airports, we are no longer maintaining them because the funds are not there. It was planned that we should be getting something on top of what we were generating if these revenue sources were concessioned. But it has become obvious that the FAAN workers were doing better’ “.

Both President Jonathan and his leading economic advisers have placed the responsibility for necessary development of the infrastructures and utilities on the private sector through their so-called Private Public Partnership agenda. However, it is Lagos State, governed by an opposition political party, the Action Congress (AC), that has already provided a graphic illustration of why this “profit-first” ideology would never lead to necessary and sufficient development for the economy and the improvement of peoples’ living conditions in general. Since 2003 or thereabout, the former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu entered into an agreement with a group of private companies to construct a 49 kilometre road from Victoria Island to Epe Town both within Lagos State. Eight years after, only about 6 kilometres of this road has been constructed. But very provocatively, and against the opposition of road users, mostly middle and upper class elites living in that axis of the state, the private companies in charge of the project have already erected three sets of toll gates ostensibly to collect money to offset their expenditure and this may run for the next thirty years or so! Meanwhile, more than over three quarters of all the roads and streets in Lagos State remain in deplorable conditions.


Nothing however illustrate better the utter incapacity of capitalism to meet the social requirement for economic development and improved living standards for the people than the prevailing mass poverty and depression that dominates all key economic and social sectors despite the super abundant natural and human resources with which Nigeria is endowed with. The most provocative manifestation of this capitalist impasse is the award of hundreds of billions of naira of public wealth being handed over to the same capitalist vampires that brought an otherwise stupendously rich country and its exceedingly resourceful and enduring people, to its present prostrate conditions.

Late last year, the government of late President Musa Yar’Adua, through the Central Bank unilaterally gave a sum of N620 billion to bail out 8 banks that were about to collapse as a result of their numerous reckless financial transactions and outright pillaging by their private owners. In a similar scandalous version, both Yar’Adua and now President Jonathan have unilaterally decided to award a sum of N150 billion and N500 billion respectively to bail out collapsed industries while keeping them in capitalist hands. Of course, what used to be Nigeria’s industrial sector has been heavily devastated over the years as a result of the combinations of the “profit-first” neo-liberal economic policies foisted on the country by multinational corporations and the advanced capitalist countries.

In this respect, the textile industry gives a graphic example of the kind of industrial desertification that has enveloped the country as global capitalism strengthens its stranglehold on the economies of neo-colonial and under-developed countries like Nigeria. Up till late 1980s there were over 250 textile companies directly employing over 800,000 workers between themselves, with a further over one million others who earned their living through trading and other related businesses within the sector. Unfortunately however, by 2007 only about 30 companies, mostly operating below their installed capacity, employing less than 30,000 workers remained in business. It should be added that it is this kind of economic devastation that prevails in several otherwise buoyant industrial and agricultural sectors.

However, notwithstanding these prevailing, lamentable conditions, it is economically counter-productive and socially scandalous for government to handover hundreds of billions that could have been used to develop public infrastructures and social services to the very same profit merchants that brought the country to its present cul-de-sac in the midst of abundant human and natural resources. It is very scandalous that huge public resources are being handed over to unaccountable profit-driven individuals and companies who for ages have championed the crusade that government should stop financing necessary social infrastructures like roads and services, education, healthcare, job opportunities, etc. allegedly because these are socialist measures that would only breed inefficiency and economic stagnation. If industries essential for the country’s development and living standard are going bankrupt then, instead of their owners being bailed out, they should be nationalised (with payment of compensation only if based on genuine need) and democratically run in the interests of the working people and poor.

Unfortunately however, instead of fighting for genuine public ownership of the key sectors of the economy, including banks and finance, under workers’ democratic control and management as a basis of developing a democratic master plan of how Nigeria’s abundant human and natural resources can be harnessed to guarantee decent living and genuine democratic freedom for the people, the top hierarchy of labour summits, i.e. the NLC and TUC, are busy investing false hopes and illusions that this patently roguish system can be operated to better the lots of the working masses. They close their eyes to capitalism’s failure to develop Nigeria and the grave crisis that gripped the world capitalist system over the past three years. In fact the labour leaders tailor their campaigning to what they think the capitalists are prepared to give, this is why no serious campaign has been waged to win the N 52,200 minimum wage the NLC NEC first asked for way back at its December 18, 2008 NEC meeting in Kano.


These two related issues are always regarded by all serious analysts as very crucial when the issue of genuine economic growth and social stability are being discussed. Unfortunately however, the pro-capitalist government headed by Jonathan has equally shown its incapacity to appropriately address or tackle the challenges posed by these two related issues. Almost on daily basis, President Jonathan and his key leading officials keep professing their determination to fight corruption, which is seen as a social cankerworm militating against genuine economic growth.

However, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has turned deaf ears and blind eyes to a series of international related scandals involving several highly placed government officials both serving and retired without a murmur from Jonathan and leading government officials. However, the same EFCC that did not blink over damning allegations of bribery and corruption against leading government officials over “cash for contract” deals with Halliburton, Daimler and other international corporate sharks, suddenly regained its potency when President Goodluck was forced to reverse his autocratic ban of Nigerian soccer teams from international competitions.

To cover up for the humiliating retreat forced on President over his military-like but totally hypocritical and misguided ban of national football teams, the EFCC has been unleashed on the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) officials. Just like in the last days of Obasanjo as President, when the EFCC largely became an instrument of harassment of opponents or those that fell out of favour with the ruling PDP, the EFCC is now reportedly probing NFF allegedly for mismanaging about N2 billion. And suffice to stress, this is at the instance of elements that preside over tens of trillions of naira without much to show for this! With the latest theatrics by the EFCC, the war against corruption, as usual, will under Jonathan, remain essentially a wicked joke where an effort is being made to stop a ravaging bush fire with spittle or a grotesque situation where armed robbers assumed the right to constitute judicial panels to try pick pockets!

The Government’s disposition to fight common crimes like kidnapping equally reveals the same bourgeois short-sightedness or what the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti called “Ikoyi blindness”. How does government intend to arrest the growing rate of crimes, particularly kidnapping which has assumed a widespread character and especially at a time the country hopes to woo foreign investors? President Jonathan responded: “We are taking the matter very seriously and we will not fail to deal with the perpetrators. You even find out that some communities in the country have turned it into a business and people who even have chains of degrees have been found to be aiding, abetting this criminal activity … there are highly placed individuals who are involved … When somebody is kidnapped you find these highly placed individuals going to negotiate ransom … We are not sleeping; we are finding ways to track down kidnappers and we are trying to pursue the use of ICT equipment to track them down”.

Blinded by their own undeserved and unjust opulent living while the vast majority wallow in permanent want and poverty, Jonathan and the entire capitalist elites could not realize that it is the combinations of their unjust system and the capitalist rulers pervasive corruption that are responsible for the upsurge in social crimes like kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, oil bunkering, etc. Therefore, for the working masses to hope to enjoy permanent decent living conditions and a society free of scourge of crimes, the prevailing unjust capitalist society that only caters for the interest of the rich few would have to be economically and politically replaced with a new social order wherein the resources of nature and the commanding heights of the economy including banks and finance are to be collectively owned and placed under the democratic management of the working people themselves so that the abundant and inexhaustible natural and human resources on our planet can be truly planned and used to meet peoples’ economic and social needs.


Based on pro-capitalist strategies and policies, none of the social and economic problems currently facing the country and the vast majority of its ever pauperized people can be satisfactorily tackled to sustain vibrant economic growth and decent living standard for the people. Of course, instead of accepting the utter failure of the capitalist strategy and individual policies, Nigeria’s kleptomaniac and parasitic ruling elites would always want the impression to be created that running Nigeria’s economy is an intractable exercise. Speaking at the Town Hall Meeting cited above, President Jonathan once again reneged on his government initial pledge to work towards full power supply for industries and household use, starting with the generation of 11,000 mega watts before 2011. Making a 180 degree u-turn from his earlier promise in this respect, the President now argues that Nigerians should not expect adequate electricity supply soonest. Citing his experience as governor in Bayelsa State, he said “I found that when one comes up with 10,000 mega watts for instance, more people will immediately go ahead and apply for power lines and soon after that, power would become inadequate”. This bogus and ridiculous argument is meant to paper over the fact that Nigeria, for ages, has not been generating enough mega watts of electricity to sufficiently power its industries as well as personal consumption.

South Africa that has just one third of Nigeria’s population is currently generating about 45,000 mega watts of electricity per annum, whereas, Nigeria currently only generates only about 3,000 mega watts. Therefore, the central task is how to generate enough electricity required by industries and the people rather than giving a misleading impression that it is the people’s attitude that makes this target unattainable. Sometimes last year, at the peak of one of the periodic scarcity of petroleum products, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili, paid a visit to the Venezuelan Ambassador to Nigeria, making their usual appeal for foreign investment in the oil sector. In his response, the Ambassador asked Nigeria to look inward and then manage its own resources to better the lots of its people and the economy in general. He further stated that in Venezuela since year 2000, the price of a gallon of petrol has remained the same and the cost of fuelling an average car has not exceeded the equivalent of N160 and that the Venezuelan government owned and managed over 40 refineries producing petroleum products for both local consumption and export. While the Venezuelan working masses still face large problems due to the incomplete character of the anti-capitalist changes so far carried out in that country, they do not face the absolute disaster that afflicts Nigeria. Whereas, Nigeria, the fourth largest crude oil producer within OPEC, still heavily relies on importation of finished petroleum products with none of its own four refineries working at full capacity.

Severally and collectively, both the NLC and the TUC together with their affiliates, have always criticized the anti-masses character of most government policies. These trade union leaders are fond of making correct critique of the anti-poor character of policies of privatization and concessioning of refineries, electricity, airports and roads. Recently, both the leadership of NLC and the TUC condemned the government’s proposal to spend billions of naira for the celebration of 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence which, seen from the interest of the downtrodden masses, is nothing short of 50 years of failure. The NLC leadership also recently and correctly denounced the pro-rich and anti-poor proposals for the deregulation and privatisation of the oil sector and the withdrawal of the so-called subsidy on petroleum products and lastly a 200% hike in electricity tariff being championed by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. In a statement titled: “Enough of Sanusi’s Anti-People antics” issued on July 29, 2010: “On electricity tariff, in particular, Congress believes that the basic step government needs to take is to first and foremost improve on power generation and distribution capacity before coming to the question of pricing. It would be illogical and totally unreasonable to charge higher tariffs when Nigerians are at the moment paying for services they are not enjoying apart from the huge hard-earned resources they expend daily on fuel to power generators”. Isa Aremu, the General Secretary of Textile Workers Union of Nigeria aptly captures the paradoxical situation of a thirsty person surrounded by water, when he recently spoke on the release by government of a bail out fund of about N30 billion for the revival of Nigeria’s moribund textile industry. He stated: “Nigeria is not short of presidents and governors. What is missing today is good governance, industrialization and development”.

Unfortunately, notwithstanding all these correct criticism, the top labour leaders have in general, always failed to concentrate on outlining and defending pro-working class economic and political alternatives that are capable of stopping perpetual misery of most of Nigerian people in the midst of inexhaustible abundance. Therefore, instead of giving support to individual capitalist policies designed to boost profitability, the labour movement should be leading a consistent campaign to place the major economic resources of the country, including banks and financial institutions, under working peoples’ democratic control and management with the direct aim of ensuring decent living for all Nigerians across the country and not just the few capitalist elements that presently maintain a stranglehold on the nation’s economic prospect.

In order to successfully achieve this goal, the labour movement equally needs to step up activity to create its own independent political party that will be prepared to implement this kind of pro-masses’ and socialist measures needed to free Nigeria from the socio-political bondage of the local capitalist elements and their foreign backers and masters. Specifically, the labour movement needs to create a truly democratic working peoples’ party or strive to reclaim the Labour Party which has now largely been hijacked by the pro-capitalist elements. It is not enough to merely agitate for free and fair elections when, the way things appear today, the 2011 contests will be certainly dominated by anti-people, pro-capitalist parties like PDP, ANPP, AC, etc. The labour movement must start from today to offer a political platform for the long suffering working people of Nigeria come 2011 general elections. Unless labour’s agitation is pursued along this kind of outlined perspective, the socio-economic nightmare presently being experienced will not be overcome and will only worsen under Jonathan’s presidency or that of any other bourgeois politician.