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Socialist Democracy Aug - Sept 2005


Labour Should Fight Retrenchment In Any Guise

By Victor Osakwe

It is no news that over seventy-four thousand federal civil servants are to be sacked by the end of this year "to reduce the number of the civil servants to the right size", according to the PDP government of President Obasanjo. Whether rightsizing or downsizing, it all amounts to same - retrenchment. Government is only using words like these to give the impression that the civil service is over-bloated and needs to be reduced to the "right size". It does not matter to Obasanjo's government whether or not the ordinary people have meals on their tables, decent housing, health care, good roads, good education, etc, as long as its money making is guaranteed.


If this retrenchment is carried out, agony of the poor working people viz: poverty, hunger, disease, homelessness, etc will accentuate. The claim that those who are to be retrenched are over 40 years old and in the level 01-06 categories of low skilled workers is a boggy to call a dog bad name before hanging it.

The government has, for long, been claiming that 90% of the country's budget is used to pay salaries and wages. Contrarily, it is rather the extravagant expenses and embezzlements by the political office holders that have been sucking the budget and income of the country.

Obasanjo's PDP government has been voting huge sums of money for themselves and their contractors without qualms with nothing to show for the common man. Up till now, we are yet to be told on what has happened to $7000m released for the turn around maintenance of the refineries despite pressure from the spirited public on it. Again, the Presidency has been junketing around the world searching for investors with no social infrastructures that could woo investors like good roads, constant electricity etc on ground. This is apart from the recent tours by some National Assembly members to seek debt relief for Nigeria which gulped N1.433 billion. The extravagant lifestyles of the government both at the local, state and national levels does not suggest that there is any problem of massive unemployment in the country and the poverty level of its citizens is growing daily.


If there should be "right sizing" at all, it is the over-bloated government appointees like numerous Ministers, Special Advisers, Advisers to Special Advisers; Personal Assistance, Assistance to Personal Assistance etc that should go. The cost of maintaining them is very costly with no positive "advice" or policy that could bring succour to the poor other than liberalization, privatisation and commercialisation policies which all together bring sorrow and tears to the door step of the poor people while they live like fat cats at the expense of the common man.

Recently, for instance, a sum of N19 million each was released to the Senators for just three months of work while civil servants who have put in years of toil and work are to be rewarded with retrenchment letters and a promise of gratuity payments and prompt payment of pensions. The truth is that most pensioners are owed several months areas while some slump or drop dead in the process of struggling to get their pensions. In demonstration of its irresponsibility to pensioners, the executive arm of government has just rushed a new pension reform bill to the National Assembly.

The bill in itself aims to remove the responsibility to pay its workers pensions to private pension fund institutions and managers. If these pension fund institution and managers fail, the worker is left to die with nothing after putting years of work for the government and the people. In the countries where this method is being practiced, a lot of case of fraud and collapse of pension funds by these private institutions and managers is the order of the day. The government has refused to answer the question of who takes the responsibility for the collapse of a pension fund management. It is the capitalist democracy being practiced that is responsible for this promotion of poverty for the majority at one hand, while opulence and wealth is promoted for the public office holders and their capitalist friends who are a minority at the other hand.


It is clear now that the capitalist democracy is meant to impoverish the majority of us while at the same time, a minority of just 1 percent who have been sucking the country dry since independence are being handed over 80% of our wealth to continue to lord over us. It is not for nothing that the U.N has several times written that about 99% of our population is left with just under 20% of the country's wealth to share. The PDP, AD and ANPP governments that have been ruling this country since the return to a civil rule in 1999, have been deliberately promoting policies where the majority of our people wallow in poverty while they and their capitalist backers have been smiling to their banks both locally and internationally. While public hospitals, educational institutions, industries, etc are being privatised and commercialised, the ordinary people who are in need of these public enterprises and services are being forced to cough up huge money from their already empty pockets to put into the pockets of the buyers of these public enterprises and institutions who are the friends of those in government.

It is therefore necessary that the working people and the ordinary people should jointly lead a fight for a democratic arrangement where government will provide the necessary jobs and services to the people not for profit but for the welfare of the ordinary people in contrast to what is obtainable now. There is an urgent need for a government of the people, where the commanding height of the economy is nationalized and placed under the democratic control and management of the working people that will reverse the present system where a few people are consuming nearly 80% of the wealth of the country and only 20% is left for the majority who are left to wallow in abject poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, prostitution, robbery, untimely death etc. We call on Nigerians to join the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) en masse so that we can carry out a complete overthrow of the present capitalist system to end all the ills generated by this system. Anything short of this is an unending poverty and unmitigated disaster.



Socialist Democracy Aug - Sept 2005