Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Mass Campaign Against Privatization Urgently Needed

(By Ayo Ademiluyi)

The two industrial unions in the oil and gas sector, Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) shelved an industrial action called over the planned sales of refineries in early January after drawing a Memorandum of Understanding for Turn-around-maintenance of the refineries. Government had to avert another possible major strike action like the January 2012 general strike and mass protests that could trail the strike of the two industrial unions.

However, given the rapacious nature of the neo-liberal ruling elite in Nigeria, the MOU signed with the industrial unions is intended to buy time in order to re-launch the savage attack in the coming period. The ruling elite trades off major public assets, and employs such ridiculous arguments as the collapse of the public infrastructure to justify this. This is without any explanation that this was a direct result of the bureaucratic running of the state-owned facilities.

Most worrisome is the ideological bankruptcy of the leadership of trade unions, which essentially does not have a total opposition to privatization in itself, but calls for “transparency in the privatization process”. This is simply stating that robbery of public assets is necessary but it must be “transparent”! This indicates why the labour leadership sits comfortably on the National Council of Privatization.

Working class and socialist activists must prepare to build an anti-privatization mass campaign that would place a clear demand on the labour bureaucrats to exit the National Council on Privatization and rally the entire working class movement to reverse the sale of public assets. This must go side by side with placing public assets and commanding heights of the economy under democratic control.

Socialist activists will have to intensify intervention in the trade union movement with the aim of building ideological cells of workers that can generate clear-headed cadres for the transformation of the trade union movement. This should be linked to the building of mass movement to defeat privatization and other neo-liberal attacks and an independent mass working class political alternative.