Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

“Democracy Day”: Celebrating Fourteen Years of Monumental Failure


“Democracy Day”: Celebrating Fourteen Years of Monumental Failure

Fourteen years into the current civil rule has, apart from the removal of direct military dictatorship, almost completely failed to meet the hopes and aspirations of the working masses. Even the limited democratic rights which have been enjoyed during these years are being challenged as the government moves towards more authoritarian methods and a growing reliance on the security forces to enforce its rule. These years have been a monumental failure for the capitalist ruling elite in Nigeria who have been shown to be incapable in the areas of social services like education, health care etc. and infrastructural development. This is in spite of the fact that the period since the end of military rule has witnessed the longest run of oil windfall in the history of Nigeria. In other words, the country has amassed very huge oil and gas revenues, much more than any period since the discovery of the oil at commercial quantity. But there has been nothing fundamental to show for it in term of social services and infrastructure development.

This is as a result of the tightening grip of capitalist globalization and the ruling class’s prevailing neo-liberal philosophy which discourages social spending and prioritises commercialization and privatization under the guise of private-sector driven economy. This itself enhances the propensity for corruption as the huge revenue at the disposal of the government is not primarily meant, in the eyes of the ruling ckass, to be spent on the welfare of the people. Therefore the money is just there for looting. It is not accidental that governance in this country is synonymous with corruption. Even when money is allocated to a sector or project it is not sincerely used for the public good but to gratify the greedy top government functionaries and their fronts called contractors. The refineries’ turn around maintenance, power and road projects under the Obasanjo government readily come to mind as one of the several examples of colossal looting of the treasury under the guise of infrastructural development.

This oil wealth has made Nigeria a fertile ground for the visible growth of parasitic capitalist ruling elite who don’t invest in production, apart from where they can make quick profits like in food, but pour money into campaigns for public offices where their subsequent looting gives them a huge profit at the expense of the poor and working people. This, together with the poor state of infrastructure, accounts for why the so-called economic growth has not led to job creation and poverty reduction. The so-called poverty eradication program of the government is not only extremely tokenistic but also another cesspit of corruption. The allocation to education and health care are well below the international recommendations for third world countries. The poor state of the education and health sectors means that the capitalist politicians in power do not patronize public schools and hospitals. For the simplest of ailment they are off to Europe. More annoyingly, they draw from public resources to settle the bill.

On top of all these is the monumental unemployment situation which has turned Nigeria into a seething time bomb. Youth unemployment is particularly outrageous with over 28 million youths estimated to be unemployed. The youth unemployment situation contributes largely to the ethno-religious crisis of Boko Haram, kidnapping and armed robbery rocking the nation. A million State of Emergency declarations will fail to end this cycle of terrorism, violence and bloodletting unless government begins to invest in social programs to create real and well-paid jobs. Indeed it is not just the north eastern states that are effected; several forms of ethno-religious crisis can occur in every part of the country given the level of anger, frustration and discontent of the big youth population which feel increasingly alienated and abandoned by society.

Instead of stealing billions of our collective resources under the guise of fighting Boko Haram, we challenge the clueless Jonathan government to declare, as a minimum let’s say 200, 000 permanent job offers on a living wage to youths in the North irrespective of education qualifications and let’s see if Boko Haram will continue to have enough fighters ready to die for their reactionary objective of a sharia state. This is because any youth who has a job has a future – which is what majority of frustrated youths being recruited by Boko Haram in the north, and by other violent groups elsewhere, lack. But the Goodluck Jonathan government will not take this step because it is far more profitable to the politicians and their contractor friends to continue push through this official genocide called state of emergency instead of creating jobs and other social amenities that can give the youths of this country a bright future.

This is why the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) is using the occasion of May 29 “Democracy Day” celebration to call for a socialist change in Nigeria. There must be an end to the neo-liberal capitalist program of privatisation and commercialisation if the resources of the country can be used for the benefit of the vast majority. The pay and allowance of top government functionaries and all political office holders must be based on the civil service salary structure. The commanding heights of the economy, (e.g. oil, banks etc.) must be placed under the democratic control of the elected representatives of workers and relevant professionals who are subject to recall by their electors. There must be adequate allocation to education, health care and public works together with their democratic running with the elected representatives of workers and relevant professionals, subject to recall by their electors, on committees and organs at all levels.

The fact is the capitalist ruling elites and their parties cannot support or implement those measures. They have to be voted out of power. This is why we have been canvassing for the formation of a mass working peoples’ party with a socialist program to contest and wrest political power. In the interim, the SPN is being formed to contest election on a socialist program and work towards formation of a viable working peoples’ party. Until such mass party is built and wins political power the overall conditions, on the basis of a continuation of the neo-liberal capitalist program, can only get worse for the working people and the poor. Without a genuinely revolutionary break with capitalism the future is bleak for the vast majority.

Segun Sango
Protem National Chairperson
The Socialist Party of Nigeria