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Socialist Workers Bulletin, Issue 002, August 15-29, 2011

EDITORIAL:

Privatization is theft! “Nationalization” of banks a fraud!

Privatization is theft – David Mark

Sen. Mark; privatization is theft, but privatize "we" still must!

The Obasanjo government said privatization would ensure economic effectiveness and contribute positively to national growth. It has now been shown to rather be a major obstacle to infrastructural development and generation of employment. It is a policy that has been widely condemned and challenged by socialists , progressive economists since its introduction in 1988 as part of SAP by Babangida’s junta. Series of protests and demonstrations were organised by Nigerian people against it, noting that it amounts to “dashing” a few rich capitalists our collective wealth.

The Senate President, David Mark on August 8 described the privatization exercise as a “rip-off” and its result as “a failure”. This was in the aftermath of a Senate public hearing on privatization & commercialization activities.  It was revealed at the hearing that just N146.4b was realized from selling 122 State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) as they were sold for pittances! For example, Delta Steel Company, which Nigeria established with $1.5bn, was sold for $20m while the Aluminum Smelting Company established with $3.2b was sold for $1.5b and the company that bought it also got $120m given to dredge the Imo River but did no dredging.

The Senate also gathered that just two of the privatized companies have performed well while over 100 have not, meaning that the exercise is a failure. Despite this David Mark still concludes that “government truly has no business in all these commercial enterprise because it has failed and…I think government should hands off these commercial organizations”.

This statement exposes hypocrisy of government officials. Persons are jailed for crimes of thousands or even hundreds of naira talk less of billions of dollars. Worse still, the privatized companies are doing worse than SOEs, so what is the justification for still thinking government has no business with business?

Beyond hypocrisy though, is the contradiction of “nationalization” within the logic of capitalist production. Under capitalism, SOEs are run on behalf of the capitalists collectively. The main culprits of corruption in SOEs are big politicians & their friends and not “the civil servants”. The workers are mere living “tools” for the expansion of wealth that benefit just a few.

Nationalization alone is not equal to socialism like some countries that were actually “state capitalist” such as USSR claimed.  Revolutionary socialists fight for the nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy by a workers state/government. That is to say, such enterprises will be under the democratic control and management of workers and such workplace workers’ democracy is generally possible only when workers have seized power nationally through revolution.

We fight against privatization under capitalism not because capitalist nationalization represents workers emancipation. It is because individual capitalists use it to STEAL enterprises built with the nation’s wealth as the Senate has had to admit.  It is also because privatization is an ideological attempt to justify the individualism of capitalism.

SWB calls for the renationalization of all privatized SOEs under the democratic control and management of workers, through a socialist revolution. We also call for the jailing of ALL involved in the criminal sales of the SOEs.

THE “NATIONALIZATION” OF BANKS IS A BIG FRAUD!

The Central Bank recently “nationalised”; Afribank, Bank PHB & Spring Bank

CBN boss, Sanusi; bailing out finance capital

because they had not signed Transition Implementation Agreements with “core investors” towards meeting the September 30 deadline given to earlier rescued banks to “re-capitalise”. The Federal Government-owned Assets Management Corporation (AMCON) is injecting N679b into these banks. These are monies that could have been used to better the lives of millions of Nigerians!

In 2009, over N600b had also been pumped into rescuing banks that were in crisis by the FGN, making the amount used for banks bailout over N1.3trillion! In a country where hunger, homelessness, poverty are the lot of millions of people and poor access to quality healthcare and education is the order of the day, this is very condemnable.

It is worse when we realise that these funds are being used to feed the cow for further milking, at our expense. Already not less than 5 local and 10 foreign capitalist groups have indicated interest in buying the three banks! This “nationalization” just as the bank bailouts by advanced capitalist countries is meant to socialise the debts and problems of capitalists, thus subsidising their bounce back with state intervention. Yet we are told state intervention is bad and government should hands off businesses and services that could benefit the poor.

Under capitalism, privatization and nationalization are two sides of the same coin; head they win, tail we lose. It is all about furthering the enrichment of the elite and the continued pauperization of the poor.

We must fight to bring an end to this nonsense! Nationalization without workers control and democratic management is subsidising the rich at our expense. The fate of 12,000 workers in these banks also hangs in the balance. We demand that the bank workers should be part of the decision-making mechanisms on the fate of the banks, in a form of co-management. This is however not to raise illusions that such reforms will solve the problem of capitalism or liberate workers.

The banks and large factories have to be taken away from the parasitic capitalist elites and organised to serve the interests of the immense majority, by the workers.

 

Nigeria: State of the Nation

REVOLUTION; A NECESSITY FOR SECURITY

by Tunde Liberty

12 years after military rule workers and youths in Nigerians are yet to reap from “the dividends of democracy”. The nation has been transiting from one security crisis to another, ranging from armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom, political assassination, and recurring leadership problems that have continued to threaten the national “security” and sovereignty.

Despite the level of condemnation these prevailing ugly occurrences have received from progressive Nigerians, they have continued and are becoming more rampant in  recent times.

The increased rates of crime and political violence threaten the security of citizens’ lives and properties of the rich. There are countless cases of high profile political assassinations and killings of innocent citizens during religious/ethnic clashes. Militia groups have increased in numbers with the rising rates of youth unemployment. Kidnapping and hostage taking have become means of livelihood and access to “the national cake” as campaigns of sheer terror spread.

This atmosphere of violence has taken a turn for the worse with the rise of “Boko Haram” using suicide bombing as a means of using individual terror to further their demands. The problem has been posed as just one of “security” with the government setting up a committee that has submitted its initial report.

The problem is however deeper than that. This violence reflects the crises of capitalism in Nigeria. Hunger, anger, desperation and disillusionment have been turned outwards on society. The way forward to resolve the contradictions behind these crises is by overthrowing the capitalist system itself through revolution. This is the challenge for workers and youths.

RETURN OF WORLD BANK’S OKONJO-IWEALA

by Baba Aye

Iweala & Clinton; taking orders from Washington

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has resigned as MDof World Bank for Africa to return back as Nigeria’s Finance Minister & head of the FG’s Economic Management Team. She had served in both capacities between 2003 & 2007 under Obasanjo.

She is well respected in financial circles due to her ties with World Bank. But that is exactly why working people in Nigerian should be wary of her. World Bank (and IMF) programmes have spelt doom for poor people all over the world, including in Nigeria.

SAP was a failure, even World Bank admitted this, but only after it had helped to wreck several countries economies and render millions hopeless and hapless. Its Poverty Reduction Strategy has not led to the reduction of poverty in the world. On the contrary, inequality has risen like never before.

Okonjo-Iweala has also been credited as being the one responsible for “debt relief”. But the cost of the “debt relief” was enormous. And, this was at a period of “debt relief” in general to several countries by the World Bank based on earlier global mass mobilization by such international NGOs like Jubilee 2000.

Basking in the glow of lies and illusions she loudly claims that her goal is to create jobs. She believes Nigerians have such short memories. The National Economic Empowerment & Development Strategy which was her bible for Obasanjo was to have created 7million new jobs. But the number of new jobs with job security was less than the number of “old jobs” lost through downsizing, contracting out, casualization, etc. Most of the new jobs created were selling “pure water”, “akara”, recharge cards, etc.

There is no country that can develop, even based on capitalist limitations in this manner and with the recipe of the World Bank which Okonjo-Iweala is coming back with, yet again. The so-called “Newly Industrialized Countries” used state intervention through “Import Substitution Industrialisation” and similar strategies to break away from the worst backwaters of capitalism.

But that was because their period of industrialization was when capitalists globally had a “class compromise” with the working class after the Great Depression & the 2nd World War to avoid great crises. Today, even with world economic crisis, the capitalists are not ready to give an inch without great confrontation.

Okonjo-Iweala represents that neoliberal heart of today’s capitalism. SWB will ceaselessly expose the anti-people policies she will be cooking with Jonathan in their kitchen cabinet and fight against these, besides working people.

Workers Struggles & Solidarity!

 Unemployment of youths, a keg of gunpowder

by Tunde Liberty

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with over 150 million citizens, of

youth corpers, passing out to bleak futures

which youths constitute about 93 million. Youth unemployment has promoted restiveness in the country, as the youths now implore the use of violence and other dubious means for survival, fuelling the spread of social vices of all sorts. This is not surprising and the blame rests on the government and the capitalist system

The disappearance of jobs and possible employment opportunities in the public service and increasing casualization in the private sector are worsening the situation. Over 120,000 youths graduate from the universities and polytechnics every year. Most remain unemployed for several years and most of the few that get employed get degrading jobs with wages take home pays that can hardly take them home. The situation is even worse for those that did not go to higher school or lack formal education as the system reduces them to sub-human levels.

It is not surprising that while the FGN’s official national unemployment rate is 19%, its estimate for youth unemployment is 45%! Many people would say these are gross underestimation, but even these show us how bad the problem at hand is. The matter is equally compounded by “favouritism” and “man know man” before youths are employed in the public service.

This is what led to a protest by Unemployed Youths Association in Abuja recently. They demanded for the resignation of the acting Chairman of the Commission of the Federal Character Commission,  Alhaji Muhammadu Ari-Gwaska due to the lopsidedness of recruitment into the NDLEA. Of the 144 youths employed, 20 were from the same place as the immediate past Chairman, Prof Oba Abdulrahim Shuaibu, while 22 hailed from the state where the acting Chairman who succeeded him comes from.

Elites in business and particularly in government use ethnicity, religion and “tribalism” to try divide solidarity between working people, and particularly youths. While the anger of the youths are very legitimate, the issues run deeper than “federal character”, as even the capitalist elite know.

The report of a study commissioned by the British Council last year shows that Nigeria “could reap an enormous economic dividend in the next 20 years if it creates opportunities for its young people — but faces a demographic disaster if it fails.” It further states that “if Nigeria fails to plan for its next generation it faces serious problems as a result of growing numbers of young people frustrated by a lack of jobs and opportunities,” noting that “they could be a force for instability and social unrest.”

What the report however fails to highlight is the root cause of the problem it identifies. This is the capitalist nature of our society and the way it is inserted into the global economy as a backward, unindustrialized economy. The situation is being worsened with the current grave crisis of the capitalist world economy.  To resolve the problem of unemployment, youths and working people have to unite and fight to defeat capitalism and build socialist society where the fullest development of every youth’s potential will flourish with full employment and recreation.

UAD HOLDS CONVENTION

United Action for Democracy (UAD) holds its National Convention on August 19-20 at Benin City. It commences with a symposium at which a number of activists will look at several challenges of electoral politics in the struggle for system change.

UAD played a key role in kicking Abacha out of power with its “5 million man rally” in 1997. SWB wishes UAD a successful Convention.

UK Govt cracks down after the riots

by Nnamdi Ikeagu   

The British government has brought the full weight of the law down on about 2,000 persons after mass anger on the streets have been quelled. The Magistrates in London were “told they can ignore normal sentencing guidelines in order to hand down tougher penalties”

Jordan Blackshaw (20) and Perry Sutcliffe- Keenan (22) were sentenced to 4years in jail for “inciting” postings on their facebook pages. The Judge, Andrew Gilbart said this would send a “clear and unambiguous message” to whosoever wants to challenge the law again.

Gillepsie Doyle was also sentenced to 2years in jail, for stealing cigarettes during the riots! But those billionaire bankers & investors whose greed and “animal spirits” drove the whole of society to economic crisis get bailouts from taxpayers’ money!

As socialists we do not support riots. But we understand the root causes of riots as anger and frustration. We also realize that the British capitalist elites are now using the judiciary to try intimidating poor people against confrontations with the system.

This will not work as anger still lies beneath, flowing from the anti-people’s austerity measures now worsening their lives.

STUDENTS SUPPORT STRIKING WORKERS

by Awo Sam

Ogbeni Aregbe', Osun State Gov.

Non Academic staff Union (N.A.S.U.) and Academic Staff (C.O.E.A.S.U., A.S.U.P., S.S.U.C.O.E., etc) of the state owned tertiary institutions in Osun state started an indefinite strike early August. The affected schools are Osun State College of Education Ilesha, Osun State College of Education Ila Orangun, Osun State Polytechnic, Iree, and Osun State College of Technology, Esa-Oke. N.A.S.U. had initiated its own action last month. The government refused to heed to its demands. On August 3, Academic Staff joined.

NASU, A.S.U.P. and C.O.E.A.S.U. leaders noted that Mr. Rauf Aregbesola had promised he would hearken to the legitimate yearnings of students and workers in the sector for proper funding of higher education before reclaiming his mandate but the reverse is now the case, leading to the industrial action.

On August 5, the leadership of N.A.N.S Joint Campuses Committee, National Association of Polytechnic Students and Socialist Youths League led hundreds of students to media houses and stormed the streets of Osogbi the following Monday, in solidarity with the workers. The workers’ demands include: increment of their salaries; elongation of years of service from 30-36; change of salary scale to the more apt tertiary schools scale of CONTISS and; proper funding of education.

The students’ demands in solidarity include: support for the striking workers demands; funding and infrastructural priority for education; restoration of students’ unions at Iree Poly and Ilesha COE; unconditional reinstatement of 5 expelled OSSCOED student activists. A week ultimatum has been issued after which mass protests will follow if the government remains recalcitrant.

This is the time for rank and rule students to stand by the workers. Student activists particularly SYLists will organize and mobilize students, youths and workers in the states around our demand in defence of education and for a better society.

Workers and Youths!

Unite and Fight! 

 

About socialistworkersbulletin

a bi-weekly publication of the Socialist Workers League, in the traditions of International Socialism. we stand for revolution from below! and our call is: workers & youths! unite & fight!

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