Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

East-West Road: Another Failure of Corrupt Capitalist Government

East-West Road: Another Failure of Corrupt Capitalist Government

For a Day of Mass Protest for Completion of the Road!

By Ayo Ademiluyi

Nothing perhaps depicts the total failure of the local capitalist ruling elite to solve the simplest tasks facing the Niger Delta than the terrible state of the East-West Road and the recent saga that broke out between two contending ruling class elements on the execution of the road project. The Minister for Niger Delta Affairs Godsday Orubebe has gone into public confrontation with the Rivers State Governor,Rotimi Amaechi over the state of implementation of the road project. The latter had condemned the former over the poor handling of the road project and demanded that the six governors of the Niger Delta States be permitted to fix the road. This is alongside mudslinging over the misappropriation of funds allocated to the road project.

The East West Road is a strategic road connecting states in the Niger Delta together taking off from the Benin end of Edo State connecting Warri in Delta State, Bayelsa State, Rivers State, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. The original plan to reconstruct the road was mooted under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, apparently to cushion the growing militancy in the Niger Delta by armed militants based on the backward socio-economic status of the region, which is the goose that lay the golden egg for the Nigerian capitalist ruling elite.

However, in spite of the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan, who hails from the region, as the President, the East West Road has remained a death trap that has consumed blood of thousands, who have lost their lives along the dilapidated highway.

Godsday Orubebe has claimed that insecurity and inadequate funding are responsible for the non-completion of the road project which is meant to be 338km dual carriage way. According to him, the total indebtedness to contractors handling the project was N9.2 billion, while N179.2 billion was required to complete the project.

Given the anti-poor and pro-rich neo-liberal policies of the local capitalist ruling elite in a neo-colonial economy like in Nigeria, they cannot perform the simplest task of fixing roads. Based on their profit-mongering private-public partnership, road projects are contracted out to construction giants, who are only interested in quick returns on their investment and not long-term development of critical infrastructure like public roads.

Interestingly, the workers’ movement in the Niger Delta has raised the fact that the vast majority of the working masses bear the brunt of the failure of government to the fix the road. Recently, the River State Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) Chika Onuegbu was critical of the failure of the Ministry of Niger Delta to complete the construction of the East-West Road on schedule. He said the organized Labour were pained by the fact that rather than the Minister to focus on how to complete the East West Road, he chose to divert attention from the real issues.

While such comments as the above are welcome, it is more imperative for trade unions along with pro-masses organizations to mobilize workers, youths, farmers, fishermen and all the sections of the working people across the region to demand the speedy completion of the road. A day of mass action should be named to this effect as part of the campaign for infrastructure development and against environmental degradation in the region. We must also demand that the road construction and other projects in the region are subject to open democratic control of the elected committee of working people, youths and relevant professionals.

While the areas are among the poorest in term of infrastructure and living condition, the states in the region are among the richest in the country as a result of special derivation fund collected monthly as oil producing region. This is in addition to special intervention bodies like Niger Delta Development Corporation and Ministry of Niger Delta through which several billions of naira have been voted over the years for development of the region.

It is greed and corrupt practices by the capitalist ruling elite within and outside the region that have made it impossible to show anything fundamentally for the resources allocated to region over the years.

To ensure the development of not only the region but also the entire country on a lasting basis, the trade union movement must come to the utter reality that the entire capitalist ruling elite and their parties lack the capacity to meet the fundamental challenges facing the economy and working masses and youths. They should begin to build a trade union-funded, pan-Nigerian, mass-oriented, rank-and-file controlled, broad-based revolutionary working people’s political alternative to put in power a revolutionary working people government, run on a clear socialist programme.

As the brightest step in this direction, the DSM has initiated the Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN and enjoins workers and youth to join the party and build it as a mass working class socialist alternative. The DSM also works in the Niger Delta region in building a solid revolutionary socialist alternative around the working masses and youth as part of struggle to fight and defeat capitalism not in Nigeria but also internationally.