Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Protest against Aregbesola: We Condemn State Sponsored Attacks on Protesters

Protest against Aregbesola: We Condemn State Sponsored Attacks on Protesters

· Aregbesola should address workers’ demands rather than silencing dissenting views

· Labour Movement must mobilise workers to the Arena of Struggle

The attention of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State Chapter, has been drawn to the latest development in Osun State vis-Å•-vis a protest action organized by a group demanding impeachment of the Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, for alleged gross financial misconduct.

Firstly, it is necessary to clarify that we in the DSM Osun State were not part of organizing and planning of this protest, as we were not involved in the process that led the emergence of the coalition that organized the protest. However, we support all civil actions meant to put Aregbesola government on trial for use or misuse of Osun State funds. We also support the right of individuals and groups to protest against government’s policies.

Furthermore, we condemn the violent attacks carried out on this peaceful protest allegedly by goons and shock-troopers of the Aregbesola government, otherwise known as State Boys. According to information gathered from victims of the attack, some of whom are pensioners; arms including guns were used by these goons against these harmless protesters, many of whom sustained serious injuries. This kind of attack shows how desperate the Aregbesola government has become in preventing already bottled up anger of the people against this inhuman government.

It is regrettable that it is the same government that rode to power in 2007 on the back of mass protests of workers and the oppressed against the repressive and corrupt regime of Olagunsoye Oyinlola (who has now become a stalwart of APC) that has now itself become repressive. It would be recalled that some weeks ago, agents of Department of State Security (DSS) otherwise known as SSS, with active connivance and directive of Aregbesola government, arrested, physically brutalized and detained Comrade Alfred Adegoke, the Osun State Coordinator of DSM over our support for pensioners’ protest on 10th June, 2015.

It is more embarrassing that elements who once claimed to be human right activists, but have now become mercenaries of the Osun State government, led this wanton attack on peaceful protesters. We call for end to this barbaric act of the Aregbesola government, which is aimed at creating fears in people’s mind. If the Aregbesola government has nothing to hide, it should not have resorted to violence against the same people it was elected to safeguard. We call for immediate arrest of all those thugs organized under the State Boys apparatus, which Aregbesola government is using to terrorize the people of Osun State. These boys have become monsters to the people of Osun State.

We demand the immediate arrest and prosecution of those involved in the violence against peaceful protesters. We also condemn the role played by the police and other security agencies, who protected and have been protecting the State Boys, even when they were publicly brandishing arms and ammunitions.

We in the DSM maintain our position that behind the financial crisis facing Osun State is the gross misappropriation and misuse of state resources. We agree that all political class organized in the main ruling capitalist parties like APC, PDP, APGA, etc. have ruined Nigeria’s economy through their massive looting – both official and otherwise – of the wealth and resources of the country, especially oil wealth. However, we maintain that Aregbesola government, through pro-rich, contractor-oriented policies and programmes, has ruined Osun State economy.

It was the Aregbesola government that committed almost a billion naira of public fund to setting up a private garment factory. Also, the Aregbesola government claimed to have committed over N15 billion on Opon Imo (educational computer tablets), which is nowhere to be found. This year, Osun State came a distant 34th in SSCE pass-rate ranking. Over N14 billion purportedly committed to rebuilding schools could only result in only five schools being completely rebuilt while remaining over two thousand public primary and secondary schools are in deplorable conditions. What about huge salaries for handful of politicians, and over bloated contract sums. In fact, if anti-graft agencies are functional, they should have beamed their searchlight on Osun State financial transactions.

We in the DSM therefore demand:

1. Immediate payment of salaries, allowances, pensions and gratuities

2. Immediate refund of all unremitted deductions from workers’ salaries and pensions e.g. cooperative money, bank loans, contributory pensions, union dues, etc., and end to such illegal act of deducting without remitting.

3. No to half or percentage salary payment of salaries and pensions for workers and retirees.

4. Public probe of Aregbesola government over the misuse of public resources, by a democratic probe committee comprising representatives of workers’ unions, pensioners’ unions, students’ movement, etc. All those involved in the current financial mess Osun State has found itself should face necessary punishment, including impeachment, sack and prosecution. All monies looted and misdirected should be immediately refunded to the state coffer.

Finally, we call on the labour movement to mobilise workers to the arena of struggle through peaceful mass actions such as protests, rallies, pickets, etc. Only the labour movement can mobilise effective mass actions that can cut across religious and creed divides. We also reiterate our commendation for Justice Folahanmi Oloyede for her courageous position in support of workers. We warn the government and its goons against any attempt at repressing or bullying the judge.

Alfred Adegoke
State Coordinator
Kola Ibrahim
State Secretary