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Socialist Democracy

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Socialist Democracy Aug - Sept 2005

Socialist Democracy

Paper of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)


Working Class Activists Ask Labour To Fight Consistently

Against incessant hike in fuel prices

Against retrenchment and privatisation of public resources and assets

For living wage, functional, affordable education and health services for all

For a fighting independent mass working peoples� party on socialist programme

On 24 July 2005, the official reports of the "National Confab" deliberations and resolutions were presented to President Olusegun Obasanjo. Expectedly, the President and some of the leaders of the confab described the exercise as a resounding success for Nigeria and its long suffering people. This is nothing but a bold face lie!

While inaugurating the now failed confab, President Obasanjo had among other things stated: " History has presented us with the opportunity to reassess, refocus, redefine and redesign our political landscape in a direction that would strengthen the bounds of unity, enhance the process of democratic consolidation, strengthen the structures so as to solidify those values that promote democracy, good governance and good neighborliness and open boundless opportunities for all Nigerians to be, and to feel that they are part of evolving political process and socio-economic advancement".

In response to the baseless optimism of the President, we had amongst other things stated: "without any fear of contradiction�nothing positive will come to the masses as a result of this so-called national confab. By its conducts so far and the inherent historical country which hitherto had always opposed the idea of a national conference are for now prepared to go along with the charade, fully secured in the knowledge that any serious reform that can threaten the status quo which they perceived as not being in their own sectional interest can always be blocked at the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly respectively, using their numerical strength under the prevailing legislative dispensation!

"Against this background, we in the DSM consider the participation of the NLC and TUC leaderships in Obasanjo's so-called confab as a monumental tragedy in that their participation only helped to lend credence to an incredible process while at the same time diverting the attention of the labour movement and the working masses in general from what they ought to be doing in order to bring to a permanent end mass poverty in the face of a limitless abundance" Socialist Democracy March/April 2005 Edition, page 4.

Sadly to note, all our worst fears concerning the confab have been frightfully confirmed. Far from "strengthen the bounds of unity", the outcome of the confab has, in fact, aggravated tension/relations between the diverse nationalities that make up the country especially with the walk-out staged by the participants from the South-South Zone at the concluding stage of the confab.

Yes, the confab was able to reach consensus on certain elitist issues such as rotational presidency among six geo-political zones. Through this, it should now be possible for minority nationalities in the middle, belt and South-South geo-political zones to produce Presidents of Nigeria!

However, going by experience, this kind of resolution offers little hope for the masses of the cited areas just as much as the domination of presidency by the Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba elite hitherto had brought no meaningful material benefits for the Hausa and Yoruba working masses. In fact, as things stand today, there is very little prospect that this and other cosmetic solutions proffered by the confab will ever be passed into laws. It is relevant to note that the kangaroo Constitutional Conference organised by the General Sanni Abacha military junta passed similar resolution which was thrown aside by the Hausa-Fulani elite who insisted that they would only concede to a North/South rotational principle as opposed to a rotational presidency on the basis of six geo-political zones!


Against the background of the collapsed national confab, there is bound to be a renewed interest in PRONACO activities among diverse layers in the society.

Unlike Obasanjo's national confab mostly made up of elements that have ruled and ruined Nigeria before, PRONACO on the contrary can boast of many leaders and members that have, over the years, been associated with the masses� struggles for better life and democratic rights in general. If only for this factor, certain layers of the masses (particularly from the Niger Delta zone, whose leaders quest for higher oil revenue was brusquely rejected by the national confab) are likely to place high hopes and expectations on the PRONACO's own confab. Therefore, in order not to disappoint or frustrate genuine aspirations of the masses, it will be incumbent on PRONACO leaders to approach its own conference in a distinctive revolutionary fashion.

Pointedly speaking, PRONACO must have a coherent and scientific understanding of the problems with Nigeria particularly the issue of perennial mass poverty, in the midst of inexhaustible abundance, amongst the working masses of all nationalities that make up Nigeria. Flowing from this, PRONACO must work out a strategy and appropriate tactics of mass struggle through which the working masses can bring into being a government and system which will be prepared to guarantee their basic economic and political needs and aspirations.

Sadly to note however, going by the articulated objectives of PRONACO and modus operandi of its leadership, up till now, there is very little the masses can expect to gain at the end of the proposed conference.

Yes, PRONACO has stated that unlike the Obasanjo's confab, there will be "no-go-area" at its own conference and that the conference will have powers to discuss all issues concerning Nigeria. In addition, the PRONACO leadership has equally promised not to tamper with any resolution passed at the conference except if such resolution were to be rejected at a referendum of the Nigerian people. Probably, to underline the fact the conference will treat all Nigerians fairly, the PRONACO leadership has taken steps to invite pro-establishment and bourgeois organisations like Afenifere, Arewa, Ohaneze, PDP, ANPP, AD etc.

Outwardly, all of these promises sound well. But when decoded, they all come to the same sad, old story of wishing to effect a change without preparing to confront and offend the forces against which a change is dearly needed.

Agreed that the conference will have all the chances to discuss every issues under the sun, the question then is how does it intend to implement same, if it does not have sovereign powers over all the economic and political resources and institutions of the country? Referendum will certainly be a new feature of Nigeria's politic since 1914 when the country was undemocratically created. But the relevant question remains how can a conference not in political power organise a truly democratic referendum whose decisions will be upheld in law and in reality? Right now, only INEC, a Federal government agency under the absolute control of the president Obasanjo's PDP, has the nearest thing to a credible electoral register. How will PRONACO organise a credible and acceptable referendum if it does not have powers over INEC?

From the point of view of being fair to all, the idea of inviting pro-establishment elements to PRONACO's conference sounds nice. However, when the fact that just about 1% of Nigeria's population only regularly consumes 80% of its annual revenues and that it is this 1% that constitutes the pro-establishment forces and organisations, then the invitation of these layers to partake in PRONACO's conference at best suggests lack of understanding of what should be done and at worst a mockery of the struggle for change.


Many PRONACO leaders have on several occasions expressed support for "Resource Control". At the failed National Confab, the issue of "Resource Control" was reduced to a question of how much percentage of oil revenues, being paid by the multinational corporations that dominate the petroleum sector, will be retained by the elites in control of the central government and those in control in the Niger Delta Zone. But for us in the DSM, "Resource Control" with respect to oil for instance, will be meaningless to the working people unless the entire sector is commonly owned by the people themselves and the process of exploration, processing, sales and use of oil products are under the democratic control and management of a working peoples' government whose sole goal is the satisfaction of needs and aspirations of all as opposed to the prevailing order where the entire sector is absolutely under the strangulating hold of profit merchants called oil companies.

What is the stake of PRONACO leadership on this major issue? Will PRONACO treat the issue of "Resource Control" in the same superficial elitist manner with which the issue was treated by the National Confab?

Whether the PRONACO leaders recognize it or not, no meaningful change economically and politically can come the way of the masses under the prevailing socio-economic capitalist governments and system. To achieve real changes for the masses PRONACO must be ready to fight for political power to remove from power the current capitalist governments at the central and state levels and simultaneously change the current self-serving, privatisation ethos which dominate the economy into a system where the commanding heights of the economy and resources of the nation are commonly owned and democratically managed and controlled by the working people themselves under a planned socialist arrangement where the satisfaction of the basic necessities of life for all will be only reason why a government exists. But as we in the DSM often state, only a workers and poor peasants' government built on a socialist foundations can bring about these needed changes.


Labour leaders and NLC leadership in particular had insisted that their participation at the confab could be used to further the interest of working masses. Today however, this approach has proved to be a false strategy. There is therefore the urgent need by the labour leaders to begin to fashion an independent alternatives capable of addressing the basic political aspirations of the masses within the context of a polity devoid of nationality arrogance and oppression. Equally, labour leaders have to wake up to the realities that severally and collectively, all the capitalist, neo-liberal policies being implemented by the Obasanjo's government are exclusively designed to make the rich richer while rendering the working people poorer. For instance, fuel prices locally will be hiked once again. This is in spite and despite the fact that the country makes more money from crude oil sales than expected. Instead of this development being a blessing, the pro-rich, anti-poor character of capitalism makes this untraceable, where the more money the country makes, the greater the suffering of the masses.

Flowing from this premises, labour leaders must be ready to make a revolutionary u-turn by, designing and fighting for a political and economic arrangement whereby the economic and political resources and institutions of the country are owned, controlled and democratically run by the working masses themselves in such a way that every person will have access to the basic necessities of life such as food, housing, healthcare, education and other relevant social infrastructures needed to safeguard the dignity of human beings.

Unfortunately however, majority of the current crop of labour leaders lack the necessary political understanding of what it will take to effect the needed socio-economic changes that will bring about and guarantee a decent living condition for poor masses. Very often, the NLC leaders make radical critique of some of the anti-people policies of the government without drawing the necessary conclusions flowing from these.

In November 2004, the labour leaders called off an impending general strike and instead joined a government committee to work out a formula to solve the problem of incessant hike of fuel prices. Between then and now, on two occasions, such increases had been effected while the third increment may be effected any time from now. Recently, labour leaders were congratulating the Obasanjo government over a "debt relief" package which for all practical purposes and intents will only worsen the plight of the masses and the strengthen the process of second re-colonisation of the country in the baseless hope that the government can thereafter have enough resources to improve the living conditions of the masses.

The fact that the hundreds of billions of dollars which have been realised from crude oil sales alone have mostly ended up in private coffers of capitalist corporations and individuals while about 80% of the country's population live in perpetual misery, below UN poverty line is ignored or taken for granted.

It is the combination of these factors that has created a sense of helplessness amongst the people and the false feeling that the current unjust dispensation is unchangeable. But as we in the DSM often state a revolutionary socialist change is a necessity if the current deplorable conditions of the masses are to change for the better.

Therefore, to set on course this process of dearly needed change, it is imperative for the labour leaders to face the bitter truth that only ceaseless mass struggles, as opposed to collaboration with the capitalist ruling class, can bring about worthwhile changes in the living conditions of the masses in the immediate and long term basis. Under the current situation, this will require the labour movement, in conjunction with LASCO, NCP, PRONACO, DSM, UAD, PRP, DA etc to come together and work out a programme of action for intervention in the day-to-day struggles of the masses for food, housing, heath care, education, jobs, decent minimum wage etc as part of a process of capturing political power from the current set of ruinous, self-serving capitalist ruling class.



A Big Con

Every aspect of Obasanjo's government economic policy is decidedly anti-poor and pro-rich. More accurately, the central thrust of the economic policies of the civilian government headed by Obasanjo is primarily pro-big business, and for that reason, slavishly pro-imperialism.

Under the guise of helping Nigeria to become "debt free", the G8 capitalist countries with the active connivance of Nigeria's capitalist elite have put together a very deadly package, being promoted as "debt relief". From the point of view of the living conditions of the working people and the basic requirements of a sustainable economic growth and development, every aspect of the conditionalities put up by the Obasanjo government is counter-productive. Far from being a relief, the Paris Club offers, severally and collectively, if implemented, will only help to deepen the mass misery and at the same time give a big boost to the second colonization of the country by the capitalist west.

Before examining the conditionalities which Nigeria must meet in order to enjoy the so-called debt relief, one point should be stressed, that Nigeria, most especially its long suffering people seriously needs a "debt relief", "debt write-off", "debt pardon" or whatever it is called so long this actually means easing or removing the excruciating pains being inflicted on the people as a direct consequence of crippling financial commitments involved in servicing the country's debt. Sadly however, the Paris Club debt package in issue will only worsen Nigeria's situation in all ramifications.


Firstly, Nigeria, at a go, has to pay a whooping sum of $6bn upfront in order to enjoy the much-touted relief! For an economy reeling under gross under-development and decay due to absence of insufficient capital investments; for a country without the basic social infrastructural facilities such as transportation, communication, electricity, pipe borne water, health care and educational services etc; for the country whose over 70% of its population live below poverty level, the requirement that Nigeria should pay, at a go, a whooping sum of $6bn (at least by Nigeria's standards) to overfed financial sharks in the G8 countries is to say the least, outrightly callous. In addition, it should be stressed that only those who feed fat on peoples misery can describe this outright robbery as a relief.

This is not all. If Nigeria pays the requested $6bn, the Paris Club says it will thereafter write-off about 60% of the country's debt, leaving a balance of about $8.5bn out of the $31bn claimed to be owed to the club. In order to avoid a situation where this balance will balloon to a bigger debt in the nearest future, the club has therefore kindly demanded that Nigeria "buy back" this outstanding balance at "a discount market rate". Most estimates by financial analysts put the actual sum Nigeria may have to immediately pay in this respect at a minimum of $6bn!

The Policy Support Instrument (PSI) put forward by the Paris Club says that its relief package is directed to provide "an enabling environment for growth" and "member�s poverty reduction". Sadly to stress however, it is the exact opposite that will happen. To get out of the prevailing decay and stagnation which envelop the industries and agriculture to develop necessary social infrastructures needed for a sustainable growth to develop functional and affordable health care, to give functional and qualitative education for all, to substantially mob up employment, to give decent living and working conditions to the working masses, each and every one of these will require capital investments in billions of dollars. Therefore, the only reasonable and rational way Nigeria can be helped at this point in time is to inject billions of fresh dollars on the real sectors of the economy. Any deal that expects Nigeria to part with its own dearly needed cash is nothing but an outright fraud and sell out of the masses interests.

Of course the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and other capitalist/pro-imperialist elements argue that this is the best strategy to ensure growth and development. According to the minister, once the Paris Club "debt dealing" is finally implemented, Nigeria will from 2006 no longer have to pay $1bn annually as it has been paying in the past 6 years to the Paris Club as debt repayment and services. This $1bn reprieve, for all those who believed the minister will now be channelled towards the development of infrastructure and other social needs. What an ingenuous calculations! Nigeria will first part with $12bn and in return gain $1bn! For a minister seconded from the World Bank (a leading imperialist body) and especially one who gets her salary in dollars, Okonjo-Iweala has, no doubt, performed "a feat" which might in the nearest future fetch her a Noble Prize in finance! This is however a big problem. Her deal practically means the continuation of the current economic decay and mass poverty.

Secondly, it is important to stress that the "debt relief" in issue demands that "Nigeria must secure approval from the IMF boards for its economic reforms and submit itself to continuing economic monitoring".

Plainly put, this means that Nigeria must be prepared to continue with the current neo-liberal capitalist policies of privatisation and liberalization of the economy. For the past six years or so, President Obasanjo's government and that of his colleagues at the states level have been busy selling at cheap prices the commanding heights of the economy and resources to private corporations and individuals. This strategy, we were told is the best way to service the chronically sick economy and at the same time ensure its sustainable growth. Once prices of goods and services like fuel, health care and education etc are solely determined by market forces, then, Nigeria will have signalled its giant entrance into the club of great developed countries.

According to President Obasanjo, this is not just a Nigerian strategy but rather that of the entire Africa which has, in the wisdom of the African Union (AU) leaders, adopted a New Economic Policy and Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) for the continent. The central thrust of NEPAD's strategy is an economic agenda where the private sector under the supervision of the capitalist west is, expected to lift Africa's economy out of its historic backwardness and associated mass poverty.

But this is as far as theory goes. In practice, the opposite has been the case. The neo-liberal policies in areas of healthcare and education have been an absolute disaster with most publicly owned schools virtually destroyed while private ones charge fees that are beyond the incomes of most parents and students. This is without stressing the fact that a large layers of elements that should be in schools are not there because of absence of opportunities and resources.

So far, the incessant hike of fuel prices has only achieved the opposite of what were promised. In the wake of every increment, more companies often fold up with workers retrenched in thousands. The small scale, self employed businesses had never fared better with many of them folding up rapidly due to high cost of energy and poor patronage as a result of mounting unemployment of the vast majority of the people. Sadly, this is what the Paris Club, IMF and the local capitalist elements will like to preserve.

Even if Nigeria were to meet the onerous conditionalities put forward by the Paris Club, the rising anti-peoples economic policies will still be in the place. If not, why should the Paris Club insist that Nigeria must submit itself to "continuing economic monitoring" when its "debt deal package" is supposed to make Nigeria "debt free" at least to the Club?

Government spokespersons however tell us not to worry as they would never accept any dictate from Paris Club or the IMF. Early August 2005, the Director General of Debt Management Office (DMO), Dr. Mansur Muhtar, had said "In our negotiations with the Paris Club, NEEDS was non-negotiable, there was never any question of us having an IMF program". Thus, according to Muhtar, the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) was what government based its deal with Paris Club on! But before anyone can shout Up Nigeria, Muhtar himself inadvertently (may be) revealed the truth that the so-called NEEDS itself has been fashioned after the IMF paradigm. Hear him: "The Policy Support Instrument (PSI) which will provide the basis of this deal is simply a formalization of what we have been doing for over a year asking the IMF to cast an eye over our economic policies, over which we have 100% control is a way of reassuring our creditors"! (Muhtar quotations were taking from This Day of August 7, 2005 Pg. 25).

Nothing however shows better, the self-serving nature and the pro-imperialist character of the regime than its attitude towards the whole debt problem abinito. While it is admitted by government that the total sum borrowed from the Paris Club was $13.5bn and that the country has made a repayment of about $42bn to the Club yet, as imperialist lackeys, they could not query how Nigeria can still be said to be owing the Club a whopping sum of $31bn! For their own selfish interests, the local capitalist elements could not stand up to imperialism by repudiating this unjust debt. Instead they are prepared to handover cash which should be used to better the lot of the masses to the international finance capital so long as their own share of the loots and acceptability by the capitalist west leaders are guaranteed.

Finally, the point must be stressed that the debt crisis itself is the expression of the inability of the local capitalist class to lay foundations for a viable economic development needed to guarantee the basic needs and aspirations of the working people. This explains why little or no positive results was achieved despite the fact that the country has earned over $400bn from oil alone since 1960 and why no tangible, positive results came out of the money originally borrowed from the Paris Club and other so-called creditors.

To solve the problem of chronic economic underdevelopment, to drastically tackle the problem of mass poverty and to get out of imperialist debt trap, it will be imperative to overthrow capitalism with its unjust socio-economic relations. Towards this end, we in the DSM demand and fight for: total cancellation of Africa's debt stock with no strings attached; repatriation of all Africa's stolen wealth stashed in foreign banks by the corrupt pro-West leaders; Africa's resources to be totally committed to guarantying food, housing, health care, education, decent jobs, etc to the African masses; a mass working peoples' party with genuine socialist programme; a workers' and poor peasants' government; public ownership of all the commanding heights of economy and main resources of nature firmly placed under the democratic management and control of the working people themselves; or a united democratic socialist confederation and, when possible, Federation of African countries in a world socialist order.



Mobilise For Regime And System Change!

Like a leopard that cannot change its spot, the Obasanjo's government is much set to unleash another crushing attack on the living conditions of Nigerian working people, urban and rural masses, with the planned increase in the prices of petroleum products. Already, more and more Nigerians are finding it extremely difficult to get meals on their table as the prices of foodstuffs and other basic necessities are prohibitive. Under the proposed increment, a litre of petrol is expected to sell between N71 and N75, representing about 250% increase since the inception of the regime. The labour, pro-people political parties, civil society groups, students, poor peasants and Nigerian working people must reject and protest this attempt to worsen the already excruciating suffering of Nigerians in the midst of inexhaustible abundance.

The argument for the planned hike is the same old clich�: the government's subsidy on petroleum products for domestic consumption is becoming unbearable, it has to be removed. They claim that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, at present, is subsidising every liter of petrol for instance, with N15. This is because the price of the crude oil in the international market has been consistently going up, selling for at least $65 in the recent time, thus leading to high landing cost of imported fuel. It is a cruel irony that the Obasanjo�s PDP government has kept advancing the continued rise in the price of crude oil in the international market, which has made Nigeria to amass immense fortune, as the main reason why Nigerians must pay through their noses for fuel at home. As at June 2005, the excess crude oil revenue above the budget benchmark of $33 was about $9billion while the foreign reserve has hit $24 billion. Why, with all this fortune, should Obasanjo's government add to the sufferings of Nigerian poor masses?

The fabulous windfall the country has been enjoying since the inception of Obasanjo's administration has not translated into improvement in the standard of living of an average Nigerian or marked infrastructure development. It has only provided more resources for looting by the ruling governments at all levels. For instance, about $2.5 billion out of $5.9 billion excess crude oil revenue realized last year was distributed among tiers of government, in addition to the budgetary allocation, even without appropriation by the national assembly. Yet, there is nothing to show for this in terms of education, health, food, infrastructure, etc. Last year, Nigeria's commitment to funding of education was only above that of Somalia, while it was rated 187th out of 191 countries in the WHO's ranking of countries' health indicators, only above war ravaged countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Sierra Leone.

Instead of repairing or improving on the existing refineries and building more to adequately take care of the domestic need for fuel, the government opts for importation of refined products. In fact, a study has revealed that with the installed capacity of the nation's four refineries, they could produce a total of 445, 000 barrels per day. Therefore, if the refineries are made fully operational, Nigeria can adequately take care of its domestic consumption put at 300 million liters of petrol daily and still has extra for export. But importation has become another avenue for the politicians and business people in the corridor of power to make quick and cool money at the gross expense of the people's need. It is no surprise that the so-called 18 private investors have only kept under their pillow, the official license that has been issued to them since 2001 to build private refineries. Moreover, the Obasanjo's government claimed in 2003 that it had spent over $700 million (about N100 billion) on the turn around maintenance of the nation refineries, but this has only gone down the drain, as there is nothing to show for the money. Yet, nobody has been arraigned for misappropriating this resource, despite the much-advertised anti-corruption stance of the government.


In his reaction to the planned increase in the fuel price, Adams Oshiomhole, President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) stated, "Nigerians will never be tired of confronting these agents of IMF and World Bank who seize the excuse of higher international prices for a commodity which we produced and earn lots of money from, to inflict penury, hardship and impoverishment on the masses" Nigerian Tribune, August 13, 2005. But how far can the leadership of NLC translate this rhetoric to a reality in defence of working masses is a moot question. Before the last general struggle and protest in October 2004 arbitrarily called off by the labour leadership, PM News September 29 reported Adams to have said, 'We have learnt our lessons from previous nationwide strikes and this time around, we will ensure that all our goals achieved before we call off the strike". Yet, the labour leadership went ahead to make a rotten compromise even before the struggle commenced let alone achieving the goals despite the massive support of the people to the struggle. In Lagos for instance, major roads were deserted until late afternoon the general strike was to commence despite the fact that labour leadership had called it off.

Even right now, there is no serious indication that the NLC leadership properly understands why there will always be incessant fuel price hike and accordingly, why an all encompassing struggles will have to be waged against the government and system which only breed mass poverty in the midst of plenty. Hear Adams, "the Central Working Committee of the NLC at its last emergency session on August 4, 2005 resolved to make a strong case to Mr. President to prevail on the NNPC not to contemplate any increase on the already high cost of fuel products" New Age August 12, 2005. Frankly speaking, this is nothing but sheer self-deception. As known by every honest analyst, President Obasanjo is the greatest driving force behind the implementation of neo-liberal policies of which incessant fuel price hike is a key component. It is therefore escapist appealing to Obasanjo to call NNPC and PPPRA to order.

Moreover, considering the recently promulgated neo-fascist labour law that outlaws strikes and protests against anti-poor policies of government, this imminent attack is a test case to the Nigerian labour movement. Labour leaders must disregard this anti-people law. Any legislation that empowers impoverishment of Nigeria and denies Nigerians enjoyment of collective wealth must be thrown into its rightful place, dust-bin of history.

We therefore call on all the three labour centres, NLC, TUC and CFTU, civil society organisations, student and youth groups, pro-people political parties and organisation, to commence various activities to drum loudly the people's objection and be prepared for popular resistance that will include strikes, demonstrations, rallies, etc.

However, as the experience of the last six years has shown, the working masses and their organisations must be prepared to get rid of this capitalist and pro-imperialist government with its anti-poor policies, including incessant increase in fuel price, astronomical rise in price of foodstuff, retrenchment of workers, privatisation, etc.

We, thus reiterate our long held call on the labour leaders, pro-people organisations and parties, change seeking individuals and socialists should, at communities, factories and workplaces, local, state and national levels as soon as practicable, convene conferences to discuss and fashion out a coherent economic and political alternatives to the prevailing unjust capitalist order. To that effect, those conferences should be geared towards the formation of a genuine working peoples party with rounded socialist programmes. The most correct and scientific lesson that can be drawn from the general strikes and protests that have been held so far in reaction to the policy of incessant hike in the fuel price is that the ultimate goal of the struggle should be the overthrow of capitalism represented by Obasanjo, the PDP and other pro-capitalist parties and its replacement by a workers and peasant government which only can potentially carry out pro-masses policies of affordable housing, free and qualitative education, healthcare, constant electricity, portable water, functional transport system amongst others.


Fresh Democratic Election Must Be Conducted Into Local Councils In Lagos State

On July 28, 2005, Lagos State House of Assembly claims to have passed a law reverting from 57 local councils to the old 20 recognised by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. However, the Lagos State Chairman of the NCP, Segun Sango says that the reported reversal leaves many things to be desired as the "Chairmen and Councillors" of the so-called 57 local council era will still retain their positions but now under the guise of so-called "Development Area Councils". Sango maintains that this approach will still be illegal and unconstitutional. Below is the excerpt of the interview:

Socialist Democracy (SD): What is your reaction to the Lagos State government reversion to the old 20 local governments from 57 newly created by the state?

Sango: Firstly, we have always maintained that on the basis of the relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution and the unambiguous pronouncement of the Supreme Court ruling, the federal government has no valid basis to continue to withhold the allocation meant for the local council in Lagos state for any reason. We have therefore always demanded for the release of the fund. In arriving at this position however, we have also said that, which is supported by the Supreme court ruling, the so-called newly created local governments in the state are "inchoate" and that the federal government allocation to local governments to Lagos state must not be appropriated for the so-called 57 local councils. We have consistently demanded for a reversion to the structures of the old 20 local governments listed in the constitution without any infraction or loss of assets to them immediate fresh elections into them.

SD: The federal government has released N10 billion from the N35 billion due to the 20 local governments. What is your view on this?

Sango: As we have maintained, the federal government is only complicating matter by not releasing the entire fund to the state. The Supreme Court ruling is unambiguous on this. However, the Lagos state is yet to truly revert to 20 old local governments. While the state claims it has reverted to 20 local governments, it still retains the 37 local governments with a different nomenclature "Development Area Councils" with their so-called chairmen and councillors in tact. This implies that the old local governments structures and territories have been impaired. For instance, five local governments were created out of Alimosho Local government. While the state claims to have reverted to the old Alimosho, the five local governments created from it are in tact with chairmen and councillors. Again, elections are yet to be conducted in the old 20 local government. Who, for instance is the chairman of Alimosho local government? Nobody because "elections" were only conducted on March 27, 2004 on the basis of the illegal 57 local governments. Therefore, if the Lagos government is serious, the ideal and rational step it should take is an immediate conduct of elections to the 20 local governments that actually exist in the state with an immediate disbandment of the illegal 37 and their officers.

SD: What happens if the state government sticks to its gun by refusing to conduct fresh elections as credited to its spokes person, Dele Alake in the dailies?

Sango: This will not be the first time AD government in Lagos state will be taking Lagosians for a ride by holding them to ransom on its selfish political calculations at the expense of Lagosians. When the state government and its puppet called LASIEC insisted in going ahead with March 27, 2004 local government elections on the basis of the so-called 57 newly created local governments, NCP and other active parties in the state protested this and even went to court to challenge it. By crook means, the AD government went ahead with the "election", technically denying other parties like NCP who were in court to participate in the "election". But now, we have been vindicated. However, a lot of money that could have been used for development of living conditions of the masses have been squandered on illegal "election".

However, now that the Lagos state government claims to have reverted to the 20 local governments structure, the next logical and constitutional thing to do is to conduct a fresh and democratic election into these councils. And let me state very clearly here that the issue of the purported agreement reached between the federal and Lagos state governments on the matter can only be tenable and relevant only to the extent that it does not in any way infringe upon the democratic and constitutional rights of Nigerian citizens living in Lagos state.

Under the 1999 constitution, local councils, like the executive and the legislature, can only be lawfully governed by elected officers. Therefore, the position of the Lagos state government that it will not conduct new elections into the local councils, even after its own claim that it has reverted to the 20 local councils known to the 1999 constitutions, on the ground that such condition was not contained in the purported deal struck by some elder statesmen between Lagos and central governments is untenable, undemocratic, unconstitutional and perhaps reveals the morbid fear of the AD in Lagos state to go for a democratic, free and fair elections given their very poor and anti-poor orientation and conducts.



Nigerians Should Expect More Except �

Between 1999 and now, more than 3,400 innocent Nigerians have fallen victims of extra-judicial murder and killings at the hands the police and other members of the armed forces who traditionally and constitutionally are supposed to protect them. In some cases, these extra-judicial killings have been over dispute or refusal by commercial bus Drivers and Conductors to give N20 ($0.14cent) bribe at checkpoints or roadblocks by police officers. The above figure does not even take into cognisance, many of such incidents that never got documented, the torture to death and in some instances, outright killing of Nigerians in many Police Stations across the country.

The killings of six Apo traders by officers of the police last June 8, 2005 is just but a continuation of a long existing tradition that has been entrenched by the police in their relations with members of the public. The judicial commission of Inquiry into the Apo killing headed by Justice Olasumbo Goodluck has received the report of the autopsy it ordered, conducted by a team of eminent anatomists and pathologists like Prof. Olusegun Ojo, Prof. E.J.C. Nwanna, Dr. Aminu Said and Dr. Wilson Akiwu. Their findings bring again to the fore the already publicly known fact that the six victims were cold bloodedly murdered!

According to Prof. Ojo, the autopsy confirms that Ifeanyi Ozor, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwekeke, Augustina Arebon, Chinedu Meniru and Isaac Ekene, had all died from "high velocity missiles" and "cerebral laceration". What this means in plain parlance is that they were shot at close range - on the skull, with an AK47 rifle - except for the female victim who earned the honour of being shot in the abdomen and her death consequently caused by bleeding, as she actually survived the shooting and was ferry to the police station where she was finally executed!

Would justice finally come the way of the Apo six? Would the Judicial commission, even though headed by a justice, be able to resolve this menace once and for all? Can the police high command be trusted to bring these officers to book and resolve this once and for all, or further still, can incidence like this be merely attributed to just the question of some "bad officers" who must just be weeded out and that would be it?

We cannot but agree with Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sunday Ehindero, who stated that "once you commit a heinous crime, you are on your own, because I can never support you to kill innocent people and you expect me to cover it up". But we are not deceived. This statement by the police boss should not be taken on its face value to mean that we now have a new police force and that things would indeed change. Nothing, in actual fact, would change. Corruption would continue to be the order of the day as long as the question of the welfare and remuneration of police personnel is not properly addressed. IGP remains a part and parcel of system that has seen to it that the Police remain ragtag, both in terms of welfare of the rank and file of members of the police, the continued resistance of the Police High command to a police Union, which would have employed open and legitimate means to highlight its grievances against its employer. As long as this is denied, it would be naive to think that killings like the Apo Six would ever come to an end.

It is even clear that if not for the timely interventions of other fellow traders at the Apo market who had organised themselves and protested against this unjust killing of their colleagues and succeeded in preventing the rushed burial of the victims, the truth of the matter is that nothing would have been done. The officers would most likely have earned for themselves promotion ostensibly for gunning down robbers and would most likely have even gotten congratulatory messages from the police high command or even from the police boss himself, who would have wanted to personally witness the decoration of these police officers to higher ranks while family members of the victims would be left with nothing else than to echo Fela Anikulapo�s song "...sorrow tears and blood/Dem regular trademark"

Left to them, the police would always cover their track. Or how else does one explain the escape of Superintend Abdulsalam Othman, one of the six officers being charged for the killings, from detention or even the mysterious death from poisoning of another police Constable late Anthony Idam also in detention? What are the police trying to hide from members of the public? What is the agenda of the Police High Command? Attempt a quick fix-solution, and put the blame on DPO Danjuma Ibrahim and others standing trial and that would be it? Even, if they are finally found guilty, and sentenced to death by a competent court of the land, we beg to state that without addressing the fundamental root causes and apportioning appropriate blame to the appropriate quarters, so long will extra judicial killing continue.

Again, we must also not fail to mention series of arm tactic approaches the government and the Police High Command have coined to deal with the phenomenon of stealing and armed robbery, which in the past, have gone through various appellations, like "FIRE FOR FIRE", "RAPID RESPONSE SQUARD" etc have in no little way served as an excuse for members of the Police to unjustly harass and maltreat innocent members of the public. As this policy has continued to prove a failure, the working masses are made to suffer from both ends, when it is clear to all that it is the policies of government that result into the mass unemployment and underemployment which leave most youth with no other option than to turn to crime. Instead of addressing the effect, government must and should address the cause by creating avenues for mass employment and a living wage as well as a living unemployment wage for all the unemployed. But unfortunately as things stand, we cannot in the least expect this from Obasanjo and his capitalist hangers on, who have presided over the whole scale privatisation of key sectors of the Nigerian economy resulting into massacre of hundreds of thousands of jobs.


Just like the recent killing of an okada rider, Peter Edeh, in Lagos by a Naval officer, Felix Odunlami, also reveals, the question of why officers of the state carry arms in the first instance in conducting themselves and their activities in a civil environment and even go to the extent of using them against defenseless and unarmed citizens needs to be addressed. The Naval Officer had been quoted to have said, " I can kill you and nothing would happen", and in fact, ordered Peter to open up his mouth and in a Hollywood horror style, defied all entreaties and shot him to death.

The implication of the above can only mean that the Armed forces and the Police in particular, cannot be trusted and indeed have failed in properly regulating who holds arms and for what purpose and when this can be used and not used. As things stand, we cannot but demand that members of the public i.e workers, is only then the excesses of the police can be checked. But as long as they remain lord onto themselves and the present neo-colonial capitalist command of the Nigeria economy hold sway, then, nothing much can be done than, from time to time, make scapegoats of some offending officers like Danjuma Ibrahim by the Police high command just to appease the anger of the populace and with time, return to business as usual.

Members of the police and armed forces must be told that while it is wrong for armed robbers to use the force of arms against Nigerians and they are punished by the law if caught in the act, it is also illegal and against the law, for the same arms to be used by officers of the state, be police men or members of armed forces against members of the public, no matter the provocation especially when they know that as civilians, they are not armed.

The right to life is a fundamental right, and all must see to it that this is fully protected. This much is enshrined in the1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But as long as you have this kind of society where, according to the World Bank, 80% of its wealth and resources are under the firm grip and control of just 1% of its population, this inequality would only continue to guarantee that arms in the hands of a few members of the society would be used, one way or the other, as a bargaining instrument to aid and sustain the survival and existence of those who have these arms in their custody.

This therefore raises the need to transform the neo-colonial capitalist arrangement of the Nigerian economy which is the driving logic of the Nigerian economy. This calls for the overthrow of this arrangement by the mass of the working people and the entire members of their families. They would have to be in the forefront of this struggle to overthrow capitalism and put in place a democratic socialist workers and poor farmers government. Such a workers and poor farmers government would have no need of an armed force as presently constituted or the police, since this would be replaced by an armed people. Indeed, all able bodied men and women would procure the training and would be able, not only to bear arms but would be able to use it in defence of their collective rights and interest for a Nigeria where the collective wealth and resources of the society would be commonly owned and controlled and put in use for the benefit of majority as against this present capitalist arrangement that serves the interest of a very tiny minority. It is this kind of arrangement that makes it imperative for the state to arm a few of its members to protect itself against the anger of the entire population. Once capitalism is overthrown, like Marx and Engels make quite clear, this oppressive instrument must also naturally "wither away".



Soludo Should Resign Now!

By Chinedu Bosah

It was shocking to Nigerians that Professor Charles Soludo's led Central Bank recently announced the decision of the apex bank to grant debt forgiveness to some commercial banks in the country to the tune of 82 billion naira.

The reasons given by Prof. Soludo are: "there will be massive payments of compensation of N17 billion to depositors by NDIC if the Central Bank does not come to their rescue since the affected 13 commercial banks are in distress and could be liquidated. That also 9.1billion naira of depositors would be uncertain and that if the banks are liquidated, the CBN will lose all the debts owed it by the affected banks but it can still retrieve about 20% of the debt if the 13 banks are granted debt forgiveness". This defense by Prof Soludo is a complete fraud. The primary duty of the central bank is to oversee and regulate the activities of banks in order to conform to the laws and not to arrogate to itself the powers to forgive debt or to deliberately fund private business with tax payer's money. For example, when Nigerians Airways and some other public corporations were to be privatised, this same rule did not apply.

The same government that has refused to subsidise basic commodities consumed by the masses is deliberately subsidizing private companies. Why did this government not pump this same 82billion naira into Nigerian Airways in order to revive it after bringing the bureaucrats who ran the corporations aground to book? The same Prof Soludo anticipates retrieving about 16billion naira (20%) of the debt and loss of 66 billion naira of taxpayer's money to these banks. No probe has been conducted so as to ascertain what happened to the 82 billion naira. It is just as if the money and the bank chiefs have disappeared to the blues

It is clear that this government rests so much on secrecy in order to perpetuate fraud. At least, Prof Soludo owes Nigerians explanation of the identity of the 13 commercial banks involved, their directors and bank chiefs, how this N82billion was utilized, which of the bank directors misappropriated this money? This is the only way a responsible government and its central bank should react to similar issues if really its primary responsibility is to protect its citizenry.

However, amongst the Nigerian working people, there are those who have direct relationship with these banks, such as the depositors and shareholders who do not know that they have been relating with corrupt and irresponsible banks. And the implication of this is that their money is most unsafe.

Although, under this capitalist system, banking is supposed to be carried out on the bases of lending money to productive outfit and intending ones with the view to collecting interest from the borrower which invariably should constitute their profit. But most banks today indulge more in financial crimes such as foreign exchange racketeering, money laundering and falsification of bank statements and accounts than lending of money for legitimate purposes. We are all witnesses to how Dr Olusola Saraki and the bank directors ran Societe General Bank aground; how Jim Nwobodo and wife ran Savannah bank aground; how over 30 banks had collapsed in the past ten years.

However, financial fraud is not limited to Nigeria, it is an international phenomenon. Recently, a bank in America in collaboration with Deloitte, Parmalat founder-Calisto Tanzi, 15 other executives and financial institutions plunged one of Italy's best-known banks into insolvency through a financial scandal of $17billion. In fact, these financial institutions and their collaborators stunned investors and shareholders of Parmalat in 2003 when it revealed that a 4 billion Euro bank account did not exist.

We have a government that runs this country on anti-people policies (privatisation, commercialisation, deregulation, liberalization etc) which rest on capitalist philosophy of neo-liberal policies that government should not be responsible to its people when it comes to creating the necessary infrastructures e.g. good roads, adequate functional schools, potable water, hospitals, constant power supply etc. The implication is that all these responsibilities are transferred to private individuals to run for profit. And these private individuals have at one time or the other contributed to the collapse of our public corporations. Such private individuals have only enriched themselves fraudulently through government contracts which ware never executed. And now, these set of people, owners of the 13 distressed commercial banks are being given a gift of N82 billion debt forgiveness.

Like the late Fela would say "'na padi padi government we dey". Just before the 2003 massively rigged elections, this same banks were part of corporate Nigerian led by the NSE DG Dr Ndi Okereke Onyuike that doled out 2 billion naira for President Obasanjo re-election. The same 13 banks were part of the banks that donated 622 million naira to Obasanjo Presidential private library. So one can see that it is pay back time, by giving them back 82billion naira in form of debt forgiveness, invariably helping the banks to re-capitalize at the expense of tax payers and the public while the same bank chiefs will in turn, use this money fraudulently, take away from the working people in connivance with those in power to buy our common heritage, public companies and properties.

There has been total wastage and corrupt practices not just nationally, but also internationally, where monies laundered worldwide according to IMF is close to 10% of the world's GDP, which is put at $2.5 trillion. Hypocritically, IMF and the imperialist, claim to be fighting this crime with huge sums of money. In order to stop these waste and sharp corrupt practices in the financial industry, the banks and finance houses must be nationalized and placed under democratic control and management of the workers.

We hereby demand immediate resignation of Prof Charles Soludo as the Governer of Central Bank. We also call on the federal government to constitute a probe panel that comprises of government representatives, workers representatives; representatives of the civil societies etc to probe into the 82billion naira fraud with the aim of retrieving this money back from the banks. This money should ultimately be used for the benefit of the working people such as building of roads, schools, hospitals etc.


Masses Lot Can Become Better If � - AICOM

By Emeka Bosah

Ajeromi Ifelodun Community Movement (AICOM) which came into lime-light in September 2003 is gradually becoming a household name because of the several struggles it initiated and carried out along with the residents of Ajegunle. As its motto - "In Defence of Peoples Rights" - suggests, the organisation is committed to protecting the interests and rights of the working people of the Ghetto city.

The organisation was formed in September 2003 by some socialist activists in Ajeromi-Ifelodun local government in order to fight for the reversal of the astronomical increase in refuse collection fee by the local government authorities and their contractors. The struggle between the community residents under the umbrella body of AICOM and the local government lasted for six months after which some of the contractors were forced to reduce the charge by 50% and in some cases by 40%. Although, some of the demands AICOM made were not met, some communities like the 'Nosamu, Orodu, Goriola, Abukuru and Uzo' area of the entire Ajegunle and some part of Tolu community enjoyed some reduction. The constraint suffered by the struggle was as a result of AICOM's inability to put up enough campaign in all nooks and crannies of Ajegunle due to inadequate finance and manpower to back-up the campaign.

Subsequently, AICOM conducted another struggle over NEPA's epileptic power supply, outrageous billing, non-functional transformer suffered by the 'Nosamu, Orodu and Goriola' area of Ajegunle between October 2004 and December 2004. The struggle led to a peaceful mass protest and demonstration to NEPA Festac district office on the 17th of December, 2004. Most of the complaints were subsequently rectified with an assurance to install a functional 500KVA transformer as soon as disbursement starts.

Currently, there is a campaign led by AICOM over the incessant harassment and brutality of the working class persons in Ajegunle by the police. This brutality is carried out by the 5 police stations (Ajeromi, Layeni, Pako, Tolu and Trinity stations). Besides torture, illegal detention, extortion before bail is granted, the brutality has taken a new dimension - innocent persons are arbitrarily arrested daily between the hours of 7p.m and 12 midnight and falsely imprisoned only to be released after money has been forcefully extorted from the detainee by the police. In as much as AICOM has called on the police to stop this senseless brutality, we have also called on the federal government to improve the working conditions of the rank and file policemen and women. AICOM has called for the rank and file policemen and women to get unionised so as to have a platform upon which to channel their grievances to their employer (government). However, this can not absolutely eradicate brutality since police itself is an arm of the state which is used by the ruling class to oppress, suppress and continue to exploit the working class.

In all struggles and campaigns led by AICOM, we have always made the working people to understand that in as much as they fight for immediate concessions, the ultimate goal is to fight for the collapse of the present neo-liberal policies being dictated by the capitalist system because the concessions cannot be sustained under this system.

All the struggles led by AICOM so far in Ajegunle are reflective of the growing attack on the economic conditions of the working people and peasants all over the country. So, workers and peasants should get organised politically under a revolutionary party in order to bring about a government that will be geared towards protecting the economic interest of workers and peasants, rural and urban poor, as against the present capitalist order where government only exists to protect the economic interest of the very few rich elite.



By Emma Adikwu

Victory finally came the way of the Flour Mills 'Five' who had been standing trial since March 2005. The five workers were arrested the police invited by the Flour Mills Management to repress a peaceful protest by 600 workers who were protesting their unjust sack by the management. The workers were sacked for fighting for adequate compensation for the family of their colleague, Ayodele Jojolawo, who slumped and died while bagging fertilizers, which was his share of work at the factory of Golden Fertilizer a subsidiary of Flour Mills Nigeria PLC. His death was due to the culminating effects of the hazardous chemicals workers are daily exposed to without adequate protective gadgets/ coverings. The victimized workers also used the protest to demand an end to their continued casualisation and agitate for improved welfare and better conditions of service. They also demanded the recognition of their rights to form and belong to union of their choice in accordance with the Section 40 of Nigerian Constitution.

The five workers arrested by the police were charged with spurious allegations by the Police to Court 2 at Apapa Lagos. The case had passed through five adjournments until it was finally struck out by the presiding Magistrate on July 22nd 2005. This feat was achieved through the legal assistance rendered by the Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) in respect of the struggle.

CDWR got involved in the struggle a few days after it had begun on March 9 2005. Since then, CDWR has helped organise the victimized workers and provided legal, political, logistic and other supports to aid the struggle. Together with the workers, the organisation has reached out to labour and pro-labour organisations including Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for their solidarity and support. Also with CDWR, the workers have also been embarking on an intensive media campaign to air and cry out publicly their grievances and injustice meted out to them.

The freedom gained by the Five' has further consolidated the belief of the victimized workers in the struggle and inspired them to be much more committed to the cause. They hope to win the battle for compensation from the Flour Mills Management at Court without abandoning political avenues and actions being explored to bring the desired results. To this end they are presently compiling all forms of evidences geared toward stating beyond all reasonable doubts that they were unjustly exploited and treated by the Flour Mills Management.

CDWR and the victimized workers have lined up programme of activities in the pursuit of struggle to the logical conclusion. We therefore appeal for the political support and or financial assistance of labour movement, pro-people political parties and pro-masses organisations.


Workers Right To Belong To Any Union Of Their Choice Is An Inalienable, Fundamental Right � CDWR Chairperson

With the new Trade Unions (Amendment) Acts signed into law by March 2005, some workers hitherto under Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria (SEWUN) swiftly moved to another union, National Union of Shops and Distributive Employees (NUSDE). Socialist Democracy (SD) conducted an interview with Rufus Olusesan, Branch Chairman of Kabelmetal union and Chairperson, CDWR, who is the arrow head of movement of workers to NUSDE. Below is the excerpt of the interview.

Socialist Democracy (SD): Your union in Kablemetal and some others formerly in SEWUN have moved to NUSDE. Why?

Answer: Let me state from the onset that workers right to belong to any union of their choice is an inalienable, fundamental right. We left SEWUN in particular because of the ineptitude, corruption and compromising attitude of the leadership of the union. As you may be aware, the purpose of joining union is to protect and advance the interest of members in the union. But of course, reverse is the case with SEWUN. We feel strongly that our continuous stay in SEWUN will not fetch us the much needed progress for our members particularly this period of massive attacks on workers working condition vis-�-vis mass retrenchment, casualisation and contract labour.

SD: Don't you think that you might be called a union breaker being the arrowhead of this movement?

Answer: Like I said, the union leadership is enmeshed in corruption and we felt that the best way to address the problem is to seek clarification from the leadership. Based on this, we wrote the SEWUN leadership a letter dated 4/3/05 titled "Crisis Looms in SEWUN". This letter, in reality, was written to the leadership to fundamentally discuss some allegations levelled against it. Some of these allegations are arbitrary collection of union check-off dues in advance. The union was realizing more than N3m from monthly check-off dues, yet, it could not account for it and still engages in its collection in advance from company managements which implies that if there are issues between workers and management, it is not likely to be on the side of workers. With this kind of situation, it is better not to have a union at all.

For instance, from the Universal Steels Ltd, the SEWUN leadership demanded 3 months check-off dues in advance on its letter dated 5th August 2004 to the Managing Director of the company. On the same month, 9th August, 2004, another letter was written to MD WEMPCO Nig. Ltd by SEWUN demanding N400,000 check-off dues in advance. On 4th October 2004, it requested for N500,000 check-off dues from Universal Steel Ltd. Same 4th October 2004, it requested MD of WEMPCO Nig. Ltd N1m advance check-off dues. Again, same day 4th October 2004, in its letter to MD WAHUM Nig. Ltd, it requested N1m as advance payment of union dues just to mention a few.

In all companies under SEWUN, casualisation is the order of the day and if you call on the union leadership to do something meaningful on this, it turns deaf ear. Between 2001 and 2003, contrary to section 39 of Trade Union Act which states that unions must render their financial account yearly, SEWUN has refused to render an account up till now in spite and despite a letter by Registrar of Trade Union for an account. Even, the account rendered between 1999 and 2002, the financial returns and audited account were rejected by the Registrar of Trade Unions because of inadequacies in it and therefore returned for representation. In a letter dated 8th March, 2004 to SEWUN, Registrar states that: "the filed accounts do not satisfy all the provisions of section 36 and 38 of the Trade Union Act, Cap 437 of 1990". But up till now, SEWUN has not re-presented an account as there is nothing to write.

On the casualisation, SEWUN set up anti-casualisation committee but it is pathetic to note that instead of struggling against casualisation, the committee has been totally ineffective. For instance, in WAHUM, two third (2/3) of the workforce is casual. Equally, Tower Aluminum, where the incumbent National President of SEWUN, Mr. Monday Aguele works, is notorious for engaging workers on casual basis. All attempt to raise all these are silenced by the leadership. Recently in WEMPCO group, 350 permanent staff were retrenched at a stretch while the company is still harbouring more than 1,500 casuals. This retrenchment was carried out on the basis of the agreement signed with SEWUN leadership and the company management.

The SEWUN national leadership went to Eldorado Nig. Ltd to sign an in-house agreement far below national collective agreement signed between Association of Metal Product, Iron and Steel Employers of Nigeria (AMPISEN) and SEWUN. For instance, in the collective agreement, basic salary was put at N5,000 per month, transport N2,500, housing N2,500, annual leave 12% of annual basic salary whereas in Eldorado, basic salary is N3,000, transport allowance N1,540, housing N1,000, while leave allowance was as follows:

Supervisor - N1,200

Foreman - N1,100

Other workers - N1,000

This is far below SEWUN and AMPISEN collective agreement but nothing was done when all these crimes were perpetrated by the leadership of SEWUN.

SD: How do you assess the 2005 Trade Union (Amendment) Act which your movement from SEWUN to NUSDE is based on?

Answer: Firstly, most parts of the 2005 Trade Union (Amendment) Acts are against the interests of the workers. However, Section 12(4) of the Act empowers workers to join any union of their choice if the union they associate with does not protect their interest and advance their cause. With all the aforesaid atrocities amongst others, apart from refusing to intervene on crisis when called upon, our continuous stay in SEWUN is like endangering our interest as our rights are not protected. Hence, we declared our membership for NUSDE.

SD: What is the latest development in issue?

Answer: After our movement to NUSDE, some employers of labour, particularly Galvanising Industry Ltd and Crittal Hope Managements that have been having an unholy romance with SEWUN felt threatened and refuse to recognise NUSDE. Moreover, the attitudes of officials of Federal Ministry of Labour and Registrar of Trade Union show that they have equally compromised. Particularly, the Registrar of Trade Unions, Mr. I.A Fagbemi, a government official who supposes to protect government position on the newly passed Trade Union Acts has been running from one union to another, inciting management not to recognise NUSDE. This is a perfidious act. Those who are to protect government policies/laws are now breaking it. This partly explains why those who felt cheated, short changed have filed an action in court to protect their fundamental right to belong to any trade union of their choice.

SD: What type of Trade Union do we really need in Nigeria?

Answer: We need a vibrant, virile and dynamic union that will always advance the interest of the rank and file members. A union that is genuine and democratically run as against bureaucratic ones we presently have; a union that will be pro-active especially at this period of attacks and assaults on the workers interest and condition. We need a trade union that could initiate a political platform of the working people with a view to capture political power and implement pro-people policies of affordable housing, free and qualitative education and healthcare delivery, job for everybody, good roads, portable water and stable electricity amongst others. In and out of power, this party will fight for the rights and interest of the poor working people and when it eventually gets to power, it will implement programmes that will bring permanent decent lives for the poor. This should be the ultimate goal of a genuine trade union movement we need.


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.


Lagos State Government Must Wake Up To Its Social Responsibility By De-flooding Papa Ashafa, Agege

By Toyin Raheem

The National Conscience Party (NCP), Agege Local Government chapter, has vowed to ensure that the Lagos State Government wake up to its social responsibility by immediately coming to the rescue of Papa-Ashafa, Agege inhabitants by de-flooding the area.

Papa-Ashafa has been under the siege of flood for quite a number of years. One would have expected any democratically elected government to have taken the welfare and security of its citizens serious. Reverse is however the case, as majority of those that claimed to have been elected stole people's mandate with brigandage, hence they are not serving the masses. It is unfortunate that Papa-Ashafa and Agege in general that has been under the control of Alliance for Democracy since 1999 has not witnessed any development either in term of infrastructures or social amenities. The likes of Mudashiru Obasa, representing Agege constituency 01 and Taofeek Adaranijo, the illegal chairman of an unrecognized "Orile-Agege local government" have not made any move to see that the area is de-flooded.

The flood at Papa-Ashafa has now started claiming lives. A young child of about three years got drowned in the last flood as a result of the deluge that fell between Sunday 5th June and Sunday 12th June, 2005. The child was left in bed and got drowned when the flood entered their room and eventually died. Many fences and buildings collapsed and the most affected areas are Egbatedo Street, Fashola, Sura-Ogunmakin, Abibatu, Obaoley, Opeifa. A landlord in the area, Pa Adesanya Adenegan said the different Community Development Associations in the area have tried their best to put an end to this flood but required the government's assistance. Mr. Isiaka Apebiowo, a resident of the area complained bitterly that all the people around the area put on sorrowful faces whenever it is about to rain, as no one knows the havoc the flood might cause.

The flood area is so alarming that even the major Ipaja Road opposite Government College, Agege is always impassable for pedestrians whenever it rains.

The National Conscience Party (NCP) is committed to the defense of peoples' rights and living standard. The little baby that died would have been alive if the Lagos State Government has made efforts to de-flood Lagos State. Presently, the people of Aboru in Alimosho Local Government are also groaning as a result of flood. Is Governor Tinubu waiting for the whole of Lagos to be flooded before he does something? NCP is hereby calling on Lagos State Governor and Eng. Aregbesola, the Commissioner for Works to wake up to their role. The Commissioner should deliver a good work in Lagos State first before pursuing in Osun State a governorship ambition On the other hand, if he has nothing to render in Lagos State, he should immediately resign.

Meanwhile, the (NCP) Agege chapter is planning to mobilise the youths and entire people of Papa-Ashafa in conjunction with Agege Community Movement (ACOM) to state a peaceful protest to the Lagos State secretariat if nothing is done within a reasonable time by the Lagos State Government to de-flood the areas and save the people from untimely deaths.


Marx, Greatest Philosopher Of All Time � BBC Listeners

By Tony Saunois CWI Secretary, London

This was the opening of Melvin Bragg's Radio 4 programme 'In Our time', broadcast on Thursday 14 of July. This well known quote from Marx sums up the essence of Marx's thought. Yet, it is not the usual introduction to a programme introduced by the presenter, Lord Melvin Bragg, a close friend of Tony Blair's.

The reason it was used by a rather bewildered Bragg, was that Radio 4 listeners had just voted Karl Marx the 'Greatest Philosopher of all time'.

The vote for Marx was overwhelming, winning nearly 28% of the vote compared to his nearest rival, the free trade supporter and contemporary of Adam Smith, David Hume, who received just over 12.5%. This vote represents a blow to capitalist commentators and their propaganda. It illustrates hostility towards modern capitalist society amongst even sections of the middle class.

The result enraged the right-wing Tory press and media. The reactionary Daily Mail denounced Radio 4 listeners for voting for the 'Monster Marx'. For weeks, it had been reported that Marx was in the lead. Now, dismayed capitalist commentators, following this victory have questioned the validity of the poll in which 30,000 people participated.

They have protested that socialists mobilised supporters to vote. Yet, all the main capitalist journals attempted to do the same. The Economist supported either Adam Smith or John Locke. But as they admitted, these pro-capitalist philosophers failed to make it onto the short list. So they urged readers to vote for David Hume. The Guardian favoured Kant. The Independent initially favoured Wittgenstein but then changed its mind.

However, Radio 4 listeners rejected this advice and overwhelmingly supported Marx. Capitalist commentators hoped that they had buried Marx with the collapse of the former bureaucratic one party regimes which ruled in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Collapse of the former bureaucratic one party regimes which ruled in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.


However, the relevance of Marx's analysis of capitalism and his ideas are increasingly seen to be relevant to understanding modern capitalist society. As Francis Wheen, who wrote a very good biography about Karl Marx, pointed out, it was this great philosopher who was the first to anticipate globalisation which he described as the "universal interdependence of nations". It was Marx who explained the ruthless exploitation of the working class and demand for profit which drives capitalist society. As a result the enduring Herculean philosophical contribution of Marx was overwhelmingly recognised by listeners of Radio 4.

Even some individuals from the ruling class have been compelled to recognise the strength of Marx's analysis. Wheen recently quoted the business correspondent of the 'New Yorker', John Cassidy, who in 1997 reported a conversation with an investment banker who explained: "The longer I spend on Wall Street, the more convinced that Marx's approach is the best way to look at capitalism." Cassidy himself turned to read Marx for the first time. He found, "Riveting passages about globalisation, inequality, political corruption, monopolisation, technical progress, the decline of high culture, and the enervating nature of modern existence." All these are issues to be found at the centre of modern capitalist society.

Yet Marx did not only analyse capitalism. He outlined the alternative to it in the form of scientific socialism and the role of the working class in building a new socialist society. He fought to build international organisations of the working class and advance the struggles of working people at great personal sacrifice, arriving in Britain as a penniless asylum seeker. It was not only in the realm of ideas that Marx made this gigantic contribution. For him, his philosophy was a tool to understand the laws of capitalist society but the essential task was to end the exploitation it brought. 'Philosophers have interpreted the world the point is to change it'. He spent his life fighting to do just that.

The vote by Radio 4 listeners recognises his historic contribution. It is a rebuff to Bragg and other capitalist commentators who thought they had succeeded in burying Marx beneath the ruins of the Berlin Wall. His ideas are destined to become the most influential of the 21st century.


Movement Against Debt Enslavement (MADE) Petitions National Assembly On Paris Club "Debt Relief" To Nigeria

Arising from the Round Table conference on "debt relief" by DSM, NCP, CDWR and ERC, some of the organisations that participated in the conference with others invited later met and formed a campaign coalition with the objective to mobilise popular resistance against the debt enslavement and for an outright cancellation of the debt with no strings attached. The coalition which is named Movement Against Debt Enslavement (MADE) has since written an open petition to the national assembly calling on it not to endorse the payment of $12b to the Paris Club and reject the conditionalities attached to the so-called debt relief. The memorandum, a copy of which was actually sent and received by the national assembly, was presented by Segun Sango, General Secretary, DSM on behalf of the coalition at a widely covered press conference by MADE on July 14, 2005. Visit for the full text of the memorandum. In addition, MADE has also resolved to physically lobby and picket the national assembly on the matter.

Besides this, the coalition has lined up a number of activities in the short term to mobilise masses and different social groups against debt enslavement. This includes massive distribution of leaflets and other agitation materials, signature campaigns, discussion with labour leadership, student groups and pro-masses groups and most importantly, mass rallies/symposia. Already, a symposium has been scheduled to hold on Tuesday, August 30 2005 at Imoudu Hall, NLC Secretariat Yaba Lagos.



Basic Characteristics Of Capitalism

By Niran Okewole

The 7th of July, 2005 stands out in memory like a Minotaur, like the rough-hewn beast of Yeats, "slouching towards Bethlehem to be born". That was the day the G8 summit, hosted by Tony Blair, commenced at Gleneagles, Scotland, to the chants of protesters in 10 major world cities. A day before, London, had won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics. However, on the fated day, the sweet flakes of victory turned to blood-stained ash in the mouths of Londoners as multiple explosions terrifying in their synchrony and devastation rocked the city of London. Not since the Blitz of the Second World War six decades before had the city witnessed such terror. Progressives committed to the emancipation of mankind can in all conscience only condemn the bombings. Firstly, for the wanton loss of innocent lives, many of whom were working class elements subject to the same neo-liberal capitalist oppression which prompted those bombings. Secondly, the events of July 7 only played into the hands of the forces of oppression and imperialism, giving added justification to their mindless acts of plunder. The only parties that benefit from this act are the forces of reaction who can then hide behind the smokescreen from terrorist bombs, making capital out of the fear and fury of traumatized citizens and using this as further exercise for their so-called war on terror.

Thirdly, as Trotsky observed as far back as 1909, the trouble with individual terrorism is that it has a tendency to lull the masses - the real motive force in history - into a state of complacency, jaded by a messianic illusion that some other people are fighting their for them. The struggle against evil has to be collective or nothing. However, while one deplores the London bombing (and the 9/11 and Madrid bombings before it, with the faulty logic behind them), one must not fail to lay the blame squarely at the door of No 10, Downing Street, for its tenant Tony Blair.

The world has grown sick listening to the lies Blair and his Yankee boyfriend told to justify the armed invasion of Afghanistan and especially Iraq. Blair, though, must surely go down in history as one of the most na�ve characters ever to lead Britain. For the American ruling class, the issues were clearly about capital and republican militarism. Michael Moore's Cannes Festival award - winning documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11is a must read for anyone who is still in doubt about the true story of the war on terror. How Osama Bin Laden comes from a Saudi family who are business partners of the Bush family in the corporation known as the Carlyle Group, which includes the arms dealers, United Defense. How most of the implicated people in Al Qaeda are Saudis but how Saudi Arabia is being kept as much as possible out of the picture because the country has 860 billion dollars of investment in America, about 6 - 7 % of the American economy. How Saddam Hussein, propped up in years back by America as a bulwark against Iran, was just a convenient scapegoat. How Afghanistan had to go not so much for harbouring Al Qaeda - most of them got away, anyway - but because it was a convenient way to finally build a pipeline through the country to move oil from the Caspian sea. Talks about this started when George Bush, then governor of Texas, was visited by a Taliban delegation who came to discuss the pipeline deal with Unocal, an American corporation. The puppet president, Hamed Karzai, was an adviser for Unocal. The contract for the pipeline went to Dick Cheney's Halliburton.

Blair and Asnar (the former Prime Minister of Spain whose party was voted out of power on account of Madrid Bombing linked to the country's involvement in Iraq war) have sadly made the ordinary working people pay the supreme price for their war criminality in Iraq, for being part of the "Coalition of the Willing" They are fools, willing hypocrites, willing murders of Iraqis, willing looters of Iraqi oil. Thousands of American and Coalition forces have been killed. Now, in spite of the brave face put up by Bush and Blair, one could look in their eyes and see fear and doubt. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history repeat them. Guerrilla warfare remains the kind of warfare the west has found most difficult to win. It happened in Vietnam. Even, the Americans were surprised that the sacking of Baghdad was so swift. What they did not realize was that that was just the prelude to the real war- the guerrilla war, urban guerrilla warfare in the concrete jungle of Baghdad and other Iraq cities, whose reverberations would be felt as far as Madrid and now, London.

Apart from being such poor history students, the coalition of cowboys also proved to be defective in their grasp of the psychology of the oppressed. It always baffles the westerner with all the pleasures of life why all these bearded, turbaned men are so willing to blow themselves up. Why does anyone commit suicide? Edwin Schneidman saw suicide as "the conscious act of self - induced annihilation, best understood as a multi-dimensional malaise in a needful individual who defines an issue for which the act is perceived as the best solution." The Stoics saw suicide as a matter of honour. However, the real causes of suicide must be sought in the political economy and the impact of this on the psyche. Environment determines consciousness. The first person in modern times to point this out was no leftist ideologue but the bourgeois theorist, Emile Durkheim.

Suicide usually follows what we call suicidal ideation, itself a consequence of overwhelming despair. It usually appeals to people who feel oppressed, dispossessed and uprooted, people who are down trodden and economically deprived, who have seen in alien force take control of their life and livelihood, who have had cause to shed hurricane tears for the spilt milk of their pride and hence see no clear reason to keep on living.

The other force in this equation is religion. Religion in the first place evolved as a result of people's fears, feelings of insecurity and need for external help. Out of these subconscious needs evolve a complex of defence mechanisms which are then codified in the collective memory as the tenets of faith. To attack this complex is to attack a system of emotional and ideological props. This is usually strongly resisted by the self. Added to this is the mentality of the crusader, which in Islam is very strong. By the time you factor in the hope of everlasting reward, you have a suicide bomber on your hands.

Religion, though, must be recognized for what it is, the real roots of human insecurity are in the material conditions of life, the control of the productive forces and the equity/inequity of distribution of the common wealth. Oppressed people everywhere, whether in the Arab world, third world or wherever, must work together to find a working people's solution to the problems bedeviling the human race. Lenin aptly said, capitalism is horror without end. With 9/11, 7/7, Madrid bombing, ceaseless massacre of Iraqis, etc, correctness of this is not far-fetched. Genuine Socialism with workers' democracy is the only way out for the humanity. In that lies the only hope for emancipation of mankind from terrorism, wars, racism, poverty etc.



By Marcus Kollbrunner

The mass protest movements against neo-liberal policies that swept Bolivia with strikes and demos have ousted president Carlos Mesa.

Roadblocks on 80% of Bolivia's roads cut off the capital La Paz and three other major cities. In several places protesters occupied oil wells.

The movement's main demand is nationalisation of the oil and gas sector - to expel multinational oil and gas companies like Repsol (Spanish), Total (French), British Gas and British Petroleum (British), Petrobras (Brazilian), Enron (US), Shell (Dutch/British) that control around $100 billion-worth of oil and gas resources.

Poverty hits two-thirds of the population, and an even bigger proportion of the indigenous people who are 65% of the population. Many movements demand a new government of workers and peasants and a break with neo-liberal capitalism.

The new president, Eduardo Rodriguez, may have reached a truce agreement with COB (Bolivia's militant trade union organisation) and Fejuve (Federation of Neighbourhood Associations - that organises poor city dwellers in El Alto, La Paz's poor neighbour) but Bolivia's ruling class is far from in control of the situation.

The movement of miners, coca growers, peasants, indigenous groups, teachers etc, has shown willing to fight again and again. If the new government takes no steps towards nationalising the oil and gas sector the movement can resume. Few trust the corrupt political system.

For hundreds of years Bolivia's riches have been robbed by foreign powers, helped by a small domestic elite. But the experience of privatisation has sharpened awareness of the injustices. Bolivia today has Latin America's biggest natural gas reserves outside of Venezuela. These resources are estimated to be worth $100 billion - 12 times the country's GDP.

Lowering the royalty (tax) on exploitation of gas and oil (from 50% to 18%) and privatising the state oil company were central to the neo-liberal policies implemented in the 1990s. Exploitation of gas and oil became extremely cheap and gave big profits for foreign companies - but nothing came to the poor masses of the country.

In 2003 President Sanchez de Lozada was ousted after just 14 months for his plans to export gas to the USA. His vice-president, Mesa, assumed the presidency. He promised a referendum about nationalisation of gas and oil, action against corruption and a constituent assembly.

The ambiguous referendum led to the new "carbon-hydrate law", with a new tax on oil and gas extraction that would give very little new tax income. Resources would still be in the international oil and gas giants' hands. This led to mass protests in March 2005.

Although there were still widespread demands for nationalisation, the debate focused for some weeks on taxation of oil and gas. Many saw increased taxation as a step towards nationalisation.

The MAS (Movement Towards Socialism), led by Evo Morales demanded that the tax should be 50%. The mass movement forced congress to adopt the new tax on a level close to MAS' demand. Increasingly isolated, Mesa announced his resignation twice, but that was not accepted by the congress.


After a pause, the movements came back even stronger - not satisfied with the new tax, they built new roadblocks. On 23 May, hundreds of La Paz teachers joined the roadblocks. They struck for higher wages but also joined the struggle to nationalise the gas and oil industry.

The same day, a new general strike was declared in El Alto. A 48-hour transport strike, demanding nationalisation and a constituent assembly, brought La Paz to a standstill.

On 31 May, 40,000 protesters prevented the parliament restarting their negotiations, occupying Plaza Murillo outside the congress. COB threatened to burn down the congress building if parliament didn't vote to nationalise. The protests continued even after that.

Then on 2 June, Mesa announced there would be an election to a constituent assembly and a referendum on greater autonomy for the provinces on 16 October. But even if the movements wanted a constituent assembly, they saw this as a manoeuvre to divert attention from the nationalisation issue.

The autonomy referendum was a concession to the right, especially the rich elite of Santa Cruz, the richest province. The elite however don't want to be forced to make concessions to the poor highlands of western Bolivia.

Mesa was left without support and announced his resignation on 6 June. Parliament accepted his resignation, although they had to meet in Sucre because of the mass protests. Hundreds of thousands took part in the movement at that stage - Bolivia was really on the edge.

The movements feared that the speaker of the senate, Hormando Vaca Diez, would claim the presidency and use the army to clamp down on the movement, possibly leading to a civil war. Under the constitution, Vaca D'ez would be able to be president for the rest of Lozada's original mandate (until 2007).

But most of the ruling class instead supported the position of MAS and the Catholic Church, to let the president of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodriguez, assume power on 9 June. Rodriguez wants to make constitutional changes to allow new parliamentary elections to be called, not only elections to president and vice-president. He also wants to call a constituent assembly and the referendum on autonomy.

He invited the COB and Fejuve leaders for negotiations in the government building, but they refused. Instead, the meeting was held in El Alto, with live broadcasting and translation into indigenous languages. COB and Fejuve spoke of giving the new president a few days of truce to nationalise oil and gas.

COB leader Jaime Solares dismissed the new president as a new pawn of the US embassy. But at the negotiations they agreed to join commissions to discuss nationalisation and a new constitution. They also agreed to lift the roadblocks and to allow supplies into the cities.

Protesters also ended the occupation of seven Repsol and BP oil wells in eastern Bolivia and of Enron/Shell's pumping station, which had cut off the export of oil to Chile. But protests are still going on, even if on a smaller scale. The new president's tactic is to try and buy time, while giving no promises.


This year's movements show two different trends. Morales' MAS has been holding back the protests. MAS was originally based on the movements of coca growers and Morales was only 45,000 votes short of beating Lozada in the 2002 presidential elections.

MAS took part in the current protests but, under the influence of Lula's PT party in Brazil, it took a more "moderate" stance.

After Lozada's resignation in 2003 Morales gave support to Mesa, which led to his expulsion from the COB. It was only after all the pressure of the movement that he supported Mesa's resignation and the demand for nationalisation. Morales' strategy is to guarantee his election in 2007. He stresses a "constitutional way out of the crisis", rather than that the movements should take control.

Other movements like COB, Fejuve, the miners' union and the teachers' union in La Paz, not only demand nationalisation of oil and gas, but also the closure of parliament. Instead COB and Fejuve called for the building of a "Popular Assembly" in a mass meeting with 400,000 participants on 6 June.

On that day the COB leadership decided to set up a "Peoples' Revolutionary Command", with the task of gathering unions, popular movements, political and student organisations around the "strategy of power to the workers, peasants and impoverished middle-class layers". But this strategy still needs to take on flesh and blood.

There are elements of dual power (where an alternative power structure competes with the established power), especially in El Alto, but also parts of La Paz, where local committees have organised food and fuel supplies during the blockage. It is right to call for the setting up of local assemblies with representatives of the different movements, and for those to be linked up in a national assembly.

The assemblies must be built on unity around a socialist programme. We call for the formation of a workers' and peasants' government that would nationalise oil and gas, the banks and other major companies, which would be subjected to the democratic control and management of the working class and its allies.

The assemblies' delegates must be subject to recall and have no privileges, to avoid a new bureaucracy building up.

he movement must also have a strategy for dealing with the armed forces. The army have been reluctant to step into the conflict, but that can change if the capitalist system is under threat.

Soldiers' committees must also be set up, demanding democratisation of the army, with the election of officers. The assemblies must organise self-defence, something that COB has raised.

What has been lacking to bring the movement together around a revolutionary socialist programme is a mass socialist party with clear strategy, perspectives and programme. This movement must spread the revolution to other countries, particularly in Latin America. The building of such a party is a central task for socialists in Bolivia.

(Culled from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, CWI in England and Wales).


Sorry State Of Education

By Ayalollah, NAU

No doubt, the Nigerian education system, for decades, has been declining and Nnamdi Azikwe University (NAU), Awka has not been left out of this rot. Right from the temporary to the permanent site, the institution is more or less in a sorry state, ranging from structures to the quality of lecturers, the students, etc.

Admission into the institution is strictly for the highest bidder. Freshers have to path with between N28,000 to N40,000 for registration aside from other sundry dues (departmental, faculty, etc). Hence, for the children of the poor working people, the gates of NAU, though a Federal University, are automatically shot.

For the last semester (1st semester, 2004/2005 session), the admission lists for some students were released two weeks before the exams began, most of whom had to hurriedly go through the registration processes. For these students and many more, who had less or no time to settle down for serious academic works, it was a season of automatic carry-overs.

Even for those who had been earlier admitted, the situation was not all together different, as lecturers rarely came to teach. For instance, in a general studies course (GSS 104) which was compulsory for students in arts, social sciences and law faculties, there was no lecture even for once. On the part of the lecturers and members of staff, the issue is much the same. In some cases, lecturers have no offices, with about three to four lecturers pairing in one office in some cases. Lecturers are handicapped to the extent that in some occasions, there are no chalks or markers with which to write! There is the news of a department where students had to retake an exam in a course in the subsequent year, because the lecturer in charge of the course had traveled out of the country in search of greener pastures, another lecturer then took up the duty. After one year, the new lecturer also left for Europe without computing students' results.

Traditionally at NAU, results are released after one year of the exams. But there are instances where students in final year are yet to get some of their 100 level results. Hence, some of them decide to retake the exams. All these and many more are the lots of both staff and students at NAU.

Except the Nigerian students presurise the government through organised mass campaign, rallies and protests amongst others to positively change its attitudes to education by adequate funding, the quality of education in the entire public school, from primary to university, should be bided 'Goodbye'


In the face of the above-listed shortcomings of government and the authorities at NAU, one would expect that there would be a high level of opposition from NANS and ASUU in the school, but that is far from the case.

The presence of ASUU is almost non-existing. For Students' Union on its part, the incumbent president and a majority of the executives were handpicked and remain surrogates of the school authority hence the lack of any form of opposition against the anti-people policies and programmes of the school authority. The student activists who fought against the attempt by the authorities to impose student leaders on students have receded from the scene of activism probably for fear of victimization as the vice chancellor is renowned for victimizing genuine student leaders and even intimidates them with 'anti-cult' group outfit, who move freely with guns on campus. A positive situation availed itself in the last semester, when students attempted to demonstrate against the attempt by the authorities to stop students who had not paid their school fees from sitting for the semester exams (old students-stalites-pay about N20,000 per session). The struggle lacked focused leadership and unfortunately was not supported by the Students' Union.


In spite of the general atmosphere of fear which dominates the university community, there are layers of young students who are dissatisfied with the status quo and the presence of an ideologically based political organisation like the DSM can transform these change seeking students into politically active and revolutionary elements. Already a number of students have declared their intention to join the organisation. At present, Education Rights Campaign ERC has put down roots on the campus with regular meetings, issuance of public statements and intervention on the daily struggles of students, etc.



But Not Yet Uhuru

By Stephen Alayande

As the protracted struggle for Independent Students' Unionism continues in the University of Ibadan, a partial reprieve has come to two of the politically victimized students union leaders.

The Students Disciplinary Committee (SDC) of the University of Ibadan met in July21 and 22, 2005 and let off the hook Ibrahim Lawal (Ibro), former speaker of the students' parliament and Ajala Folorunsho (Father folly), former majority leader in the parliament, after being held down on politically related allegations.

This act should not in anyway be regarded as benevolence of the Prof. Ayodele Falase led UI Administration. The partial reprieve is a product of the unrelenting, resolute, committed efforts and struggle of the UI students and other committed activists across the campus. The conscious efforts of the NANS/JCC, Oyo State, DSM and Education Rights Campaign (ERC), UI branch and the aftermath intervention of the UI Students' Union Transition Committee through the July 10-12, 2005 remembrance rally cum reinstatement solidarity campaign are what have cumulatively yielded this result.

The next task ahead is to ensure that the rest of the student activists that are politically victimized by Prof. Ayodele Falase led administration i.e. Alayande Stephen T. (ex-NAN, Zone D Coordinator), Ola Adeosun (ex-speaker, Students' Union), Lawal Akeem (ex-president, UISU), Olawoyin Akintunde (Struggle, ex-PRO, UISU), Hon. Ali M.O. Ayodeji (Honour), Oluajo S.B. (Sankara), Oloko Afolabi (ex-PRO, UISU, TC), etc are reinstated with release of withheld certificates so that these students could participate in the September, 2005 NYSC programme.

The crisis which is dated back to year 2000, has at its central point, issues revolving round Independent Students' Unionism in UI. These student activists were alleged to have led peaceful protests against increment in school fees in 2001 and 2002, campaigns against authorities' sponsor of cultists against student activists, demand for transparency and accountability in the use of university fund, campaign against imposition of stringent and undemocratic rules as yardsticks for students' union elections amidst many others.

All things being equal, by September 25, 2005, Prof. Ayodele Falase's crises-ridden leadership will officially end in University of Ibadan. Already, the Governing Council has put in place the selection committee for the selection process that will eventually present a new Vice-Chancellor (VC) who is meant to resume officially by September 27th, 2005.

The task before the students and staff in University is to sit and work together with the purpose of drawing a clear agenda for the incoming VC especially on the use of cultists and drafting of armed policemen to the university anytime there is a protest; victimisation of activists (staff and students), reinstatement of Dr. Doyin Odebowale (High-Priest), students union leaders and other staff unjustly sacked; arbitrary increment in school fees of students (post-graduate, under-graduate, primary and secondary staff schools), Independent Unionism (students and staff); democratic rights of students and staff on campus amongst others.

This blue print must be set now. All the staff unions: SSANU, NASU, ASUU and Students' Union Transition Committee must rise up to the occasion and save the university community from further ruins.

However, the lingering crisis in our premier university and other universities cannot but be situated outside the crisis endangering the country and global capitalism. This is a system with mad drive for profit and money making through all possible means and our universities are not spared which informs why the government will not want to fund education, resulting into dilapidated infrastructures, brain drain, administrative and academic sadism, corruption, mis-management, incessant strikes, hike in tuition fees and other charges, lack of quality teaching and non-teaching facilities, outdated books and materials in our libraries, etc.

The ultimate way out of this endemic crisis is a democratic socialist system where production, as against capitalist profit, will be based on needs, with public ownership of the key sectors of the economy, democratically controlled and managed by the working people themselves, where free and qualitative education will be possible for all and sundry.



Authorities Must Obey Court Orders

By �Wale Eleto

After four years, legal victory came the way of the 49 lecturers of the University of Ilorin that were sacked in May 2001 by the UNILORIN authorities for their participation in the nationwide strike called by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to demand for better funding of the university education among other demands.

The Federal High Court, Ilorin on Tuesday, 26th July, 2005, ruled in favour of the affected lecturers. Delivering its judgments on the two separate suits instituted by the affected lecturers against the UNILORIN authorities, the court ruled that the termination of the appointments of the lecturers on the account of their participation in the strike without a fair hearing is illegal and unconstitutional. Consequently, the court declared the termination of the appointments of the lecturers null and void and ordered their immediate reinstatement.

The court judgments had confirmed our position that there was no justifiable basis for the sack of the lecturers in May 2001 by the UNILORIN authorities under the leadership of the immediate past Vice-chancellor, Professor Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem. It also confirmed the position of the "2001 FGN - ASUU Negotiating Team/Implementation Committee" under the chairmanship of Professor Ayo Banjo (now Chairman, UNILORIN Governing Council) who recommended that the lecturers should be reinstated because there was no basis for their sack in the first instance.

Already, the UNILORIN authorities have gone to appeal against the ruling of the Federal High Court. While we concede that the authorities have every right to appeal against the ruling, there is no moral justification for this. Instead of wasting the University's money on avoidable legal suits, such money will go a long way to improve the students and staff welfare on campus.

We therefore demand that this landmark judgment of the court be obeyed to the very letter, unmindful of whatever step the UNILORIN authorities intend to take. We call on the UNILORIN authorities to immediately recall the sacked lecturers to their duty posts with all their entitlements paid in obedience to the court orders. They have suffered more than enough for no just cause We equally call on the UNILORIN authorities to release the withheld final statement of results and certificates of the former student activists of the University namely; Lanre Akinola, Rasheedat Adesina and Tosin Akinrogunde.



Right Wing Elements Emerge Winners

By Kola Ibraheem

Tuesday, 16th of August, 2005 will serve as another reference day in the history of Awovarsity Students' Union with the emergence of an ultra-right elements in almost all the offices of the union in the just concluded election of the union, despite the presence of a radical alternative.

The reactionary trend that emerged victorious in the election symbolised all shades of reactionary elements within the campus - the neo-conservative religious demagogues, the conscious reactionary elements, the degenerate ex-activists, dubious elements, neo-fascist/cultist groups, etc, and with the direct and open support from the university authorities.

The OAU branch of DSM presented 3 candidates for the election -Wale Eleto (President), Lanre Fatai (Public Relations Officer) and Ibrahim Adesina Energy (Welfare Officer). Despite the overwhelming popularity and general acceptance of their competence, the three candidates scored 706 votes (about 20% of total votes), 1867 (about 35% of total votes) and 506 votes (about 15% of the total votes) respectively.

The election came in a period of high level of reactionary mood ultimately occassioned by the various defeats and management attacks the students have witnessed in the recent past struggles, most especially the November 3, 2004 struggle in which a student, Rasheed Laketu was murdered by the mobile policemen and the campus closed down for three months. We had forewarned that the anarchistic, unproductive, morally-unappealing tactics adopted by the ex-stalinist and the anarcho-communist elements (who then were in the leadership of the struggle) could draw back the consciousness of students (who have been sent home for months), which will definitely create room for the emergence of all shades of reactionary, neo-conservative trends.

We maintained then, that despite the genuineness of the students' demands and struggle, the anarchistic tactics of resulting to attack on individuals could provide moral excuse for a dying management to recover. Today, we have been vindicated by the course of events with the emergence of reactionary trend who campaigned and won on the programmes of peace and no more closure. Even, despite all attempts by the pseudo-progressive trends to blackmail us with the struggle in order to pose as real moderate alternative in the election, their past could not leave them like shadow and they also lost the two offices they vied for - presidency and office of the public relations in the election.

Aside the historic role of the pseudo-radical elements in mobilising reaction, they also played a conscious role in creating avenues for the emergence of the conservative trend. They deliberately fielded candidates to break the votes from conscious layer for our candidates, yet they knew they could not have won the election. This is aside from the open campaign they conducted against us during the election blackmailing us as agents of the authorities a just because of our genuine positions on the November 3, 2004 struggle.

Nonetheless, the election reveals the strength of our ideas among the most radical section of the students. Despite the terrible reactionary mood, the over a thousand votes we received is a direct acceptance of our ideas by the genuine radical minds on campus. We shall work towards recruiting the best elements among them into our fold in the coming period through public political activities and campaigns.

On a final note, the election expresses the degree of fear the conservative trend and the management have for us as the only radical alternative on the campus. The direct involvement of the management in the victory of reaction also reflects the rabid intent of the university management to introduce obnoxious policies of hostel privatisation/commercialisation, which are already being mouthed by the rightists contestants during campaign; aside other nefarious policies and attacks on the way.

Consequently, we enjoin all students to prepare their arsenal in the coming period in defending the union against any attack or degeneration from any quarter because the students' union is a major platform for students to oppose any attack and champion their interests. Students must be prepared to oppose any anti-students' policy in the coming period irrespective of the kind of union leadership. Students should not blackmail themselves on the issue of school closure, the direct culprit is the management that introduces anti-students, provocative policies, added with its high-handed manner of running school. On the final analysis, when students are attacked, they will respond one way or the other depending on the character of the union leadership and the manner of guiding students' angers.

As for us in the DSM, we shall always campaign against any attempt to turn the union to appendage of the authorities and the state.

We shall continue to agitate, campaign and lead students in demanding for better living and studying conditions conducive for learning, we shall defend the education rights of students. We shall continue our campaign against education commercialisation and privatisation and campaign for proper funding of the education sector and democratic management of our school to include students' and staff unions.

Finally, we want to state that the problems confronting the education sector, the problem of authorities interference in students' union activities and the problem of conservative leadership are products of the pro-imperialist, neo-colonial capitalist government and system of the day which prioritize interests of the few and want to impose its rules on the toiling and working masses at all levels despite its decadence and inability to move the society forward. Until we all join forces together to create a political platform to fight for a just society where the need of the people will be the basis of production, distribution and governance - socialist society, we will continue to witness the decadence in the education system.


UNAD: No To Scrapping Of Medical College

Massive And Adequate Funding Of Education

The DSM branch of the University of Ado Ekiti (UNAD) condemns the scrapping of the university medical college. The scrapping is not only arbitrary but equally reveals the anti-poor character of the PDP government in Ekiti State on education, a major need and concern of most poor-working class people.

We therefore demand that the students already admitted to the medical college be helped to secure admissions in other universities so that they can complete their studies. In this respect, we demand that the Ekiti State government should totally fund the extra cost to be borne by students who, due to no fault of theirs, have to conclude their studies in other universities different from their chosen one.

We demand massive and adequate funding of the entire university with a view to upgrade the facilities as well as the condition of service of staff obtainable within the university.

We demand democratic management of all resources and allocations to the university by an elected representatives of university workers, students, community and government. This approach, we consider indispensable for the running of a functional and vibrant university education system.

Finally, we demand re-introduction of the medical college into the university. This, we believe, is important to give working class students, whose parents may not have so much money to send them to study medicine outside Ekiti State.



The DSM Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko recently expelled Akinmurele Otitoloju Olumuyiwa John aka St John as a member of the organisation. As president of the students� union, St John was expelled for anti-organisational and anti-students activities, compromising the interest of students against various attacks and anti-students policies of the university management.

In another development, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the DSM has suspended indefinitely Damilare Lawal, Coordinator, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D for refusal to appear before it to clarify some anti-organisational, anti-students and pro-state political conducts leveled against him.