Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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Socialist Democracy March 2004



I watched "the rally of the year 2003" on TV and was glued to my sit with what I saw.

I saw President Olusegun Obasanjo in the midst of a crowd of about fifty people who called themselves "KEKE NAPEP OPERATOR'S ASSOCIATION"

They converged at the President's home to show their appreciation to him for introducing KEKE NAPEP (tricycle) as a means of eradicating poverty in the country. Mr. President was happy to say that he had fulfilled his promise of eradicating poverty in Nigeria through KEKE NAPEP. I was wondering what type of poverty could the two thousand units of the tricycle eradicate.

But Mr. President must be told that that he turned them to tricycle riders either directly through mass retrenchment by federal government or indirectly through lay-offs in private sector due to his putrid economic policies.

I was privileged to interview ten Keke NAPEP riders at Alagbado bus-stop, Lagos on why they took to the business. The summary of their responses was clear -Some were retrenched by Lagos State government in 2000; some are unemployed National Diploma graduates; some were sacked from various companies due to their inability to remain in business.; others say they operate the tricycle on part time basis, as their income cannot take care of the responsibility, that is, children's school fees, house rent, feeding, etc.

From the above analysis, I was wondering where Mr. President's crowd came from. Were they really the operators of tricycles or rented crowd impersonating the "KEKE NAPEP OPERATOR'S ASSOCIATION? I also begin to wonder how is it possible for any association of such to get an audience with Mr. President when the same Mr. President is not always available to meet labour unions and NLC when any serious national issue is up for discussion.

The whole scenario reminds me of Abacha's dark days when rented crowd sang praises of unpopular programmes and at the end of such rallies, participants would be fighting over their allowances.

Since the inception of Obasanjo's government in 1999, nothing visible and positive can be said about employment creation.

Let us collectively tell President Obasanjo that the kind of employment Nigerians want and deserve is not tricycle riding. One should be gainfully employed in his or her chosen trade or profession. With functional train services and good road network, tricycles will be obsolete for mass transit. It could at best be used for sporting activities. The Obasanjo's Poverty Eradication Programme is nothing but an avenue to enrich his cabinet and family members through award of fake, bogus and inflated contract for supplies of materials that will never be supplied.

Poverty eradication, which I believe can work in Nigeria, is a programme aimed at improving the standard of living of the masses, through:

  • Democratic control and management of national resources

  • Provision of basic infrastructures such as efficient electricity power supply, good road network, free and qualitative education and healthcare, etc.

  • Prosecution of corrupt public officers to serve as deterrent to others

  • Enthronement of good democratic system that allows full participation from all ethnic and political groups, a system that will allow constructive criticism and full participation from all interest groups.

With all these structures in place, definitely there will be influx of investment in various sectors of the economy, creation of employment opportunities, improved standard of living and poverty can be said to be in the process of being eradicated.



Socialist Democracy March 2004