INSECURITY OF LIVES & LIVELIHOODS!!
BOMB BLASTS & INSECURITY
The bombing of the UN House deepens Nigerians’ apprehension that President Jonathan’s administration is incapable of providing security. This inability is characteristic of the ruling elite in Nigeria, from independence to date.
General insecurity took a turn for the worse after the civil war with a sharp rise in armed robbery throughout the 1970s. It was however on October 19, 1986 when Dele Giwa, the Founding Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch magazine was killed by a bomb blast, which many trace to the state that the issue of bombings became a source of insecurity. There were several bomb blasts in the 1990s which many believed were carried out by Abacha’s killer squads against elements of the pro-democracy movement.
On January 27, 2002 bombs stored at the Ikeja Cantonment exploded, leading to the death of over 1,000 persons fleeing in fear. This accident was the first incident of deaths from bombs in the democratic era. On March 15, 2010 a bomb blast punctuated the Vanguard newspapers-sponsored dialogue on amnesty for “militants” in Warri. MEND claimed responsibility as it also did for the October 1, 2010 twin blasts during Nigeria’s 50th Independence anniversary celebrations in Abuja, which killed several persons.
The unresolved state of previous bomb blasts must have given confidence to those who bombed the INEC office in Suleja on April 8, and in Maiduguri on May 29.
There seems to be nowhere beyond bombing now. Army barracks have been bombed in Abuja and Maiduguri. Suicide bombers have, also blown the Police Headquarters and now the UN Building in Abuja sky high. Each time the Presidency assures citizens of our safety, saying the perpetrators would be “brought to justice”.
The security challenges facing the country however have deeper roots. On one hand the ruling elite use any method available to fight over the “distribution formula” of our wealth they steal, and to settle scores. This explains unclaimed assassinations and bombings. On the other hand, the state of poverty and disillusionment of millions of young men make them willing recruits for several terrorist and “militant” organisations.
The answer to both causes is to kick out the capitalist elites and overthrow their exploitative and oppressive system. Social justice and equal rights, won through revolutionary struggle alone can make security of lives a meaningful reality.
RISING COST OF LIVING
Cost of living and insecurity of livelihood have been on the rise across Nigeria. The unemployment situation is worsening. Several manufacturing companies have folded up under the burden of high costs of electricity and poor infrastructure, with many of these relocating to neighbouring countries as competition is stirred between workers of different countries by the owners of international capital.
A number of states have also clearly stated that they will have to retrench civil servants if they have to pay the new minimum wage. This of course is not true. Much more monies go to a few political appointees and the so-called elected representatives of the people than to poor civil servants. But rather than reduce the numbers of these hangers on, the different states as well as the FGN have actually increased their numbers of “special advisers”, “special assistants”, “senior special assistants”, etc.
The livelihoods of millions of Nigerians are now more insecure than ever. But even to survive for the working poor is getting harder. A recent survey by Saturday Punch which covered about ten states shows that Nigerians “groan as food prices soar”. The prices of virtually every staple food have increased, in some instances almost doubling!
Several reasons have been adduced for this situation. Traders expecting the increases in workers wages have jacked up prices. While capitalists might increase the nominal wages of workers they and other small-scale “entrepreneurs” always try to keep the real wages (that is the real worth of what the wages can buy) low.
Another major reason is related to the recent bombings. After the police headquarters was bombed hundreds of checkpoints were set up across the country. Traders moving agricultural produce from the north down south have been extorted by policemen & soldiers at these checkpoints. They have passed these additional unproductive costs over to poor consumers.
To safeguard our livelihoods as well as our lives, we must build a humane & more productive society, which is socialism.
Nigeria: State of the Nation
Salami’s suspension & the capitalist judiciary
by Tunde Liberty
“He who wants equity must come with clean hands” as a saying goes. The present drama in the judiciary however raises a lot of questions about “equity” and “justice” in a capitalist system. The National Judicial Council (NJC) suspended the president court of Appeal, Mr Ayo Salami because of his refusal to apologize to the former chief justice of the federation, Mr Katsina Alu on the order of the NJC, without fair hearing. President Jonathan endorsed this unconstitutional suspension by appointing an acting president of the court of appeal.
At the heart of all this drama is judicial manipulation of elections petitions which each side has accused the other of; Katsina Alu (who retired end of August) for PDP and Ayo Salami for ACN. Working people are told of the impartiality of the courts. Now we know better. In a capitalist system, the executive, legislature, and even judiciary all primarily serve the interests of the capitalist elite. They however have to make some efforts at secondarily giving attention to matters that concern the entire citizens so that we see and accept them as representing all of us.
The judiciary is particularly presented as the neutral safeguard of the rule of law. So that we can continue to have illusions about the capitalist system we are made to believe it is the last recourse of the common man.
The truth is that while the capitalist bosses and politicians have to collectively dominate us, using the law and established norms and ideologies to be able to effectively exploit us, they battle between themselves for supremacy. These conflicts get reflected in the different arms of government. In a country like Nigeria where corruption is a means for continued primitive accumulation of wealth, the “hallowed” chambers of the court that normally can pretend to be apolitical gets easily sucked in.
It is not that salami is not corrupt, but the entire capitalist economic and political system in the country is corrupt, including the judiciary.
NO TO FUEL HIKE!
by E. M. Jagun
The FGN is getting ready for another series of “removal of fuel subsidy”. On August 1, President Jonathan gave a hint while the ministers for petroleum and finance made more categorical statements on the pending increases in petroleum pump prices once again.
As usual, the government claims that monies saved by removing the subsidy would be used to perform miracles that would transform Nigeria. But we all know this is just a lie. Such monies will simply line the pockets of those elites in power.
Otherwise, how do we explain that over N250b has been withdrawn from excess crude income this year without being used for any project? Why is it that the money for capital expenditure last year was totally spent but with almost zero implementation level to show for it?
The problem of inadequate resources for development is not the “subsidy”. Over the past four years that fuel price has remained the same, due to the victory of our struggles, hundreds of billions, if not trillions of naira have been stolen by politicians, top government technocrats and banks’ chief executives. A few of them that we all know have been paraded by EFCC and fewer still have gone to prison. Over a trillion of our national wealth has also been used to bail out banks by the Central Bank.
What we need to do is to kick out the capitalist politicians, nationalise the banks under the democratic control and management of workers and transform society so that it works in the interest of the immense majority and not a tiny few, for lasting development to become a reality.
The FGN is trying to implement IMF/World Bank agenda already. We will resist it. NLC has already served notice that it would fight against any subsidy removal. SWL will stand solidly by NLC in that struggle. We will equally meet the international bloodsucking ties of the FGN with IMF/World Bank & co. with the international solidarity of the working class.
To fight against fuel price hike is to fight against “the age of austerity”, and for a better society. We say!
NO TO FUEL PRICE HIKE!
UNJUST KILLINGS AGAIN IN JOS
by Tunde Liberty
Jos, the capital city of Plateau state was once more engulfed in violence between Christians and Moslems. Over 20persons were killed and over a hundred others severely wounded.
The recurring bloodletting and violence in these area and the questionable approach of the government to restoring lasting peace, has shown the incapacity of the ruling elite to ensure security for citizens, particularly the poor who cannot afford high fences with barbed wires.
This nonchalant attitude of the PDP-led government to the lives of Nigerians reflects how shabbily government treats poor citizens. The rich capitalists can of course buy expensive cars with bullet proof, using resources from our social wealth for the protection of their own lives and those of members of their households.
There has been a series of commissions of enquiry into previous killing sprees in 2001, 2008, 2009, 2010 and early 2011 in the city with none leading to lasting prosecution of those arrested, who just get released. Why? It is because wealthy elites are involved. This has given the foot soldiers these rich elites use to for initiating crises most times, much confidence to go ahead and cause confusion on the streets again and again.
With increasing; youth restiveness, kidnappings, politically motivated assassinations, bombings and ethnic-religious conflicts, the fault lines of capitalism’s crises in Nigeria are getting more condensed and could result in the collapse of the country.
We stand for the unity of working people, youths and the poor, irrespective of religion, tongue or ethnic group, in Jos, on the Plateau and indeed across Nigeria as a whole.
Working people’s struggles & solidarity
Revolution in Libya
by Baba Aye
The 6-month revolution in Libya is a very crucial one within the context of democratic revolutions sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa. It has thrown up several questions of principles in struggle for social change, in concrete terms.
Inspired by the people’s overthrow of Ben Ali in Tunisia and the Egyptian Revolution, youths and working people had demonstrated in Benghazi and Tripoli on February 17. Muammer Gaddafi who had supported Ben Ali even after he was overthrown, responded with repression, particularly in Tripoli where he was. Benghazi then became the centre of popular rebellion.
Several people’s defence committees sprung up in different localities in the city, with armed youths and working people. As the tide of rebellion rose, a number of top officers of Gaddafi crossed over to the side of the revolution. They would become the main leaders of the National Transition Council which emerged as the central rebel “government”.
Gaddafi’s forces marched on Benghazi, threatening to “show no mercy” on the city’s rebellious population. With the lives of 700,000 residents of the rebel city at stake, the NTC called for international support. The United Nations passed resolution 1973 which the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation implemented, instituting a “no fly zone” over Libya, to prevent Gaddafi from bombing Benghazi and the Libyan revolution to pieces.
On August 20, based on the fire power of NATO from the skies, the rebels marched into Tripoli, marking the beginning of the end for Gaddafi and this long drawn armed revolutionary struggle.
The narrative thus far however, does not adequately capture the real dynamics of the Libyan revolution or the debate it has thrown up amongst revolutionaries across the world.
There are those who (still) believe Gaddafi represents progress for Libyans and stood against imperialism. To them what is happening in Libya is not a revolution but some conspiracy of America & other Western powers. This is a faulty argument. Gaddafi was an oppressor who had close relations with the Western powers especially since 2002.
Some believe it was justified to support NATO’s “humanitarian intervention”. But it was not because of their “support” for NATO moving in that NATO thus acted. It was because of the strategic interests of America & co. In 2003 millions of people rose against invading Iraq, but America & co. still invaded Iraq.
In condemning any imperialist force in a way such as that in Libya, when we do not have the powers to do more than just that, we are on one hand pointing out to the people directly concerned that “look, these might act like sheep, but they are wolves! Be prepared, they will sooner or later remove their clothes!” On the other hand, we are also thus challenging the legitimacy of imperialism.
A phase might be ending in the Libyan revolution. It is one with deep contradictions. But, it is a revolution, in which so many Libyans fought for a better society. The key figures in the NTC share a lot with Gaddafi whom they had worked with for so many years before now.
This is the time for working people and youths to start building their own independent mass-based organisations in the workplaces and communities, including revolutionary socialist parties. Victory of this democratic revolution is very significant for Libya’s future and for working people across the world in this period of global ferment.
NLC: state councils go on strike for new wage!
by Nnamdi Ikeagu
NLC and TUC have directed its state councils to go on strike without any further national notice, in pursuit of the implementation of the new minimum wage. This position was arrived at during the NLC National Executive Council session in Abuja in August.
This was building on steps that several state councils had actually started taking, before the said meeting. In Oyo, Osun, Edo, Anambra & Enugu for example, workers had downed their tools as strikes shook the states to their very foundations. Unions in a number of states are equally getting ready for strike action.
It would be necessary to draw from the lessons of the strikes in states where these have already been carried out, for the workers in other states that might embark on such industrial action to learn from.
There have been victories in some cases. Of significance in this light is Osun state that offered a minimum wage of over N19,000.00, as August was drawing to a close. The (ongoing) strike in that state has been long drawn and its success was largely due to its drawing on the support of working people and youths (NANS-JCC) outside the trade unions as well as ceaseless mobilization of workers.
In Anambra, workers in the judiciary refused to join saying the other trade unions earlier abandoned them during a sectoral strike. This shows the need for NLC state councils to support all sectoral strikes.
In Enugu, police were brought to break the strike which had become a rank & file struggle after the trade union leadership bowed to government’s tricks. This anti-workers development is to be resisted.
In all, NLC national leadership will still have to give direction, generalizing the lessons from different states in the struggles ahead for the implementation of the minimum wage in states.
Back of book
UAD elects new excos
by Segun Ogun
The 8th UAD Convention held on August 20 at Benin City. The programme started with a symposium on electoral promises in a liberal democracy. Speakers included Taiwo Otitolaye, Jaye Gaskia and Baba Aye, National Chairperson of SWL.
The challenge of repositioning the united front was the crux of discussions during the Convention’s plenary session. Several comrades noted that UAD had played very significant roles in the struggle to enthrone democracy in Nigeria. Liberal democracy which was won in 1999 was considered a step forward from the military form of dictatorship.
The main beneficiaries of the democratic space are however the capitalist elites who plunder the country’s wealth as “representatives” of the people. Working people and the poor have little or nothing to show for the democracy. They are also shut out of the decision-making processes in the country.
It was agreed that there is the need for UAD to champion a struggle for participatory democracy in which the making of decisions affecting our lives will come from us, from below. This will require building strong grassroots structures of working people in the workplaces and the communities.
The Convention reaffirmed UAD’s commitment to “system change” i.e. replacing the present oppressive capitalist system with one rooted in the self-emancipation of the people from below. It also resolved to be part of the national march to “reclaim Nigeria” on October 1.
A new set of executives were elected to lead the coalition for the next two years. These include Jaye Gaskia, Convener; Musa Yahaya, Deputy Convener; Ken Henshaw, General Secretary; Joseph Sangosanya, Treasurer; Olawale Salami, PRO.
SWL will continue to work closely with UAD in the struggle for democracy of a new type in Nigeria, where power resides with the working people.
Workers & Youths!
Unite & Fight!