Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Stomach Infrastructure in Osun State

Stomach Infrastructure in Osun State

A Sign of Bankruptcy of the APC and PDP

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Osun State Chapter, decries the horrible act of voters’ inducement by the two main political parties in the forthcoming governorship election in Osun State. This ridiculous act of inducing poor and voters with basic things like rice, milk, kerosene, etc, now referred to as Stomach Infrastructure, has again underscored the low level governance has been reduced to in this country. According to a feature report in the August 3, 2014 edition of the Punch newspaper, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State have been engaging in inducement of voters through distribution of some basic consumer items like rice, milk, kerosene, etc.

It is more worrisome that the two main parties associated with this unwholesome act – APC and PDP – are both ruling political parties at the state and federal levels. This status definitely confers the opportunity on them to impart meaningfully on the lives of the majority of the population through socio-economic programmes that will lift them out of poverty. Unfortunately, the two parties, in spite of the enormous wealth and resources of the country still deny people their basic socio-economic rights. This monumental failure of governance has engendered rising poverty and squalor. It is this poverty that the ruling political parties are now exploiting through meager distribution of some basic consumer items in order to continue the culture of looting and mismanagement of public wealth.

The excuse of the two parties that they are identifying with the masses is spurious. These same political parties have introduced anti-poor policies that deny the same mass of people the right to better living conditions without depending on handouts from politicians. For instance, the PDP has been in control of political power at the federal level since the beginning of civilian rule in 1999, yet poverty, want, unemployment, collapsed education system, collapsed infrastructure and social strife have been the lot of the country. Between 1999 and 2013, poverty has climbed from 54 percent to more than 70 percent, while youth unemployment has risen to well over 50 percent. Yet, the country has earned more than $700 billion from oil since 1999. While the majority of the population is living in want, just one percent of the population is controlling over 80 percent of our oil wealth. It is this rotten economic arrangement, premised on capitalist neoliberal policies of privatization, commercialization, liberalization, deregulation, etc that have made access to comfortable living difficult for majority.

The PDP governorship candidate in the Osun election, Iyiola Omisore, is part and parcel of this rot. He was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation between 2007 and 2011, who supervised the budgets that deny the people basic means of livelihood but ensure more wealth for the tiny rich minority. For instance, the Ife-Ilesa road dualization, which was started more than five years ago, has been abandoned with no one explaining either where the monies appropriated for it are or accounting for them. The PDP ruled Osun State for four years under Olagunsoye Oyinlola (who has now crossed over to APC), yet basic infrastructures in the state are in deplorable conditions.

However, the rot is not limited to the PDP alone. The Aregbesola-led APC government in Osun State has been in power since 2010, coming to power at the back of a mass rejection of the PDP. Yet, a few days to election, this party, the APC, is so not confident of its victory that it had to contend with the PDP in the maddening game of Stomach Infrastructure. While of course, the government undertook some minimal projects like township roads rehabilitation and rebuilding of a few handful of schools, the reality is that the central planks of the government policies have been attacks on broad layers of the populace including workers, pensioners, traders and artisans, etc. Moreover, the few projects undertaken by the government have been mostly on inflated contracts awarded to big time contractors while the Ministry of Works has been made redundant.

If not for the election, tens of thousands of retirees, forced to retirement in the name of implementing the fraudulent Contributory Pension Scheme, would still have been denied their pension entitlement, almost two years after retirement. Nevertheless, many other retirees under the Contributory Pension Scheme have not received a dime, more than a year after retirement. Gratuity has not been paid to any pensioner since 2011. The so-called ‘massive’ road projects of the government are actually very limited, with majority of the intra- and inter-township roads still in deplorable condition. The school system in the state has almost been destroyed, no thanks to undemocratic reform in the school system that left many schools in horrible conditions.

All of these have actually isolated the government from the same mass of people that supported Aregbesola in the 2007 elections. This has emboldened the reactionary PDP to stage a comeback. The electoral victory of PDP in Ekiti State governorship election, itself a product of elitist and anti-poor policies of the Fayemi/APC government, has further encouraged the PDP to portray itself as a genuine alternative. But the lack of alternative pro-working people programmes and policies to the APC’s, has betrayed the reactionary character of the PDP. This is why it has to resort to horrible stomach infrastructure as a cover up for its anti-poor character.

Clearly, the monies being spent in stomach infrastructures will be recouped in manifold if any of these parties emerge victorious in the election. This will mean worsening conditions of living for the working people. It is this reality that has underscored the position of the SPN that there is the need to build an alternative political platform of the working and poor people, which will be committed to massive development of human capacity and infrastructures. This is the task the SPN has set for itself, and we call on all genuine working people, youth and the poor people to join us in the task.

Alfred Adegoke
State Chairman
Kola Ibrahim
State Secretary
E-mail: [email protected]