FIGHT PRIVATIZATION & DEREGULATION!!
NLC FIGHTS PRIVATISATION
Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress will on September 22 organise a national anti-privatisation rally in Abuja. This is a welcome development which Socialist Workers League fully supports. Privatisation has done more harm than good for the Nigerian economy and working people, and has to be fought heads-on. It is important to understand the roots & dynamics of privatisation to adequately fight it.
Privatisation, liberalisation and cuts in the funding of public services are the unholy trinity of neoliberal capitalism. In response to the Great Depression of the 1930s, capitalist states were forced to: take employment generation measures; provide more public services and some minimal level of social security &; promote elements of state-capitalism by establishing or nationalising several enterprises and industries. These reformist steps, known as “Keynesianism” were meant to calm workers down and stop their anger from exploding into revolution.
Some social-democrats/welfarists then claimed that the contradictions of capitalism had been resolved. But the systemic crises of capitalism were not resolved then and cannot be resolved without overthrowing capitalism. By the late 1960s, declining profitability of capitalism led to agitations by several elite intellectuals and politicians to bring an end to that era of the so-called “interventionist” welfare/developmental state. By the 1970s, Keynesianism was abandoned and replaced with neoliberalism which involves “rolling back the state”.
The trade union leaders in several social-democratic labour parties had come to believe that “more” could always be gotten from capitalists merely through “collective bargaining”. Mobilising workers by them was just to win more wages, etc and not to overthrow capitalism. They helped sow illusions that capitalism could work, holding back resistance when neoliberalism began. But the working class still fought back. Their struggles were crushed by Reagan in America, Thatcher in Britain and later in Nigeria, Babangida did the same, banning NLC.
Capitalism has been in severe crisis since 2007. The bankruptcy of its globalist neoliberal project has been shown. Yet, the bosses and their states insist that their system which has failed is still the only answer, passing austerity measures to make workers pay for their mess. But workers are fighting back! Waves of strikes and protests on the streets have shaken countries in all continents across the world since last year. In the Middle East and North Africa, these waves have led to democratic revolutions.
In Nigeria, the Senate President said privatisation was used to rob the country and is also a failure, yet he and other elite say we must still continue with it! This is nonsense!
But to fight privatisation without fighting capitalism is also to sow seeds of illusion. Even when capitalists nationalise industry, it is to serve them and not the workers. And whenever it is convenient for them, they will privatise these again.
We must fight for the nationalisation of leading industries and enterprises with these placed under the democratic control and management of workers. This is the only guarantee that the wealth our labour creates would serve us as working people and not some capitalist bosses.
The Federal Government has declared that fuel prices will be hiked by up to 200%! This is part of its so-called “deregulation”, which includes the petroleum industry. NLC & TUC have rightly condemned this inhumane step and vow to resist it. SWL stands firmly with this position of organised labour and urges all working people once again to return to the barricades and resist “deregulation”.
The idea of deregulation has always been a fraud. It is always more of “re-regulation” of the economy in the interests of the wealthy and powerful. All the claims that increased competitiveness will bring down prices have been proven false over the years. The so-called subsidy is also much less than the billions in naira and dollars that public office holders steal.
Working people in Nigeria have always resisted deregulation of fuel prices. We shall do so again. We must however realise that it is a symptom of the bankruptcy of capitalism to make the poor many, pay for the rich few. We must fight against the capitalist system itself. In emancipating ourselves, we will collectively build socialist society.
Nigeria: State of the Nation
Jonathan’s 100 days in office
by Biodun Olamosu & Tunde Liberty
A journey of a thousand miles, it is often said, starts with a step in the right direction. The past 100days of Goodluck Jonathan as President seems to lack this understanding. Bedevilled by the continuation of anti-poor policies his administration has shown it cannot make life better for Nigerians or protect citizens’ lives. This has led most Nigerians to conclude that the next four years might be a journey to a terrible destination.
Marking 100 days in office started with the American President Roosevelt during the economic crisis of the 1930s. His administration signed 15 bills passed by the US Congress into law within 100 days to win legitimacy for capitalism in crisis. But despite the sea of crises in Nigeria nothing of such was done. Despite widening poverty and inequality, insecurity, continued violent clashes in Jos, and flood disasters in several states, the government presented its constituting the new cabinet as its greatest achievement thus far!
The administration also set up a committee meant to reengineer the economy comprising the Vice-President, key ministers and private sector capitalists to be coordinated by the Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iwela of the World Bank, which along with IMF has always promoted policies that are to the detriment of working people and the poor. This shows that working people should not expect pro-poor policies from Jonathan &co. Indeed the government’s pronouncements have been to increase the burden of Nigerians through increase in fuel prices and further privatisation!
Further, while the government claims 100days are too short for much to be done; it has been long enough to already consider tenure elongation. President Jonathan seems to forget that tenure elongation by whatever means is not tolerable. It is alien to our history as a nation as the masses fought sit-tight dictators and stopped Obj’s third term bid. It is irrelevant to our needs currently; and therefore unsuitable and unacceptable to us.
What working people want urgently are: sustainable social, economic and cultural development and; participatory democracy at all levels of society – workplaces, communities, local governments, states and nationally.
The morning shows the day; Jonathan’s “transformation agenda” is empty and meaningless for the masses. Genuine transformation will break the chains of imperialism (US, UK, World Bank, IMF &co) on our economy and national life and ensure that the wealth of the country serves the masses. However, no government of capitalist elite would grant this. It is only through our struggle and ultimate self-emancipation that we can make this happen. It is time for us to seize our destiny in our hands and fight for our survival and future.
Capitalism to blame for Ibadan flood
by Biodun Olamosu
The flood disaster that claimed the lives of thousands in Ibadan last month has its roots in the anti-poor and anti-environment capitalist system.
The immediate cause of the disaster was heavy downpour of rains, but such recurring disasters around the world can be traced to the problem of climate change which greedy economic activities of capitalist have brought on the planet. Hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis and such heavy downpours are now getting more common because of this.
The sheer irresponsibility of politicians in the state and in Nigeria in general is a contributory factor to the extent of the disaster. Over the years, successive Oyo state administrations have neglected urban development. There are no construction of good road networks, bridges and durable drainage systems capable of withstanding such flood stress.
Ibadan has been criminally abandoned for long while the finance allocated for social infrastructures ended up in the pockets of individual contractors and public officials. There is a pattern of neglect in the disaster areas that are new
settlements of the town. In the early 80’s today’s populous settlement of Apete had no single building erected on it. It was a farm settlement. Inspite of its present huge population, it is abandoned and neglected by the state government. This is also true of the situation in other parts of the town affected – Odo Ono and Agbowo.
Governor Ajumobi has put the blame for the disaster on the people, saying some illegally erected buildings on waterways and threw waste into the gutter. But this only begs the question, highlighting the town management incapacity of the ruling elites and bureaucrats who collaborate for such illegality to happen.
The disaster also shows how little the ruling class care for common people. It is shameful that a disaster of such magnitude could be approached flippantly by both the Governor of the State and the Federal Government that only deemed it fit to visit the sight of the incident after a week and three weeks respectively.
But all over the world, capitalists care less for poor people during disasters. While Cuba, despite its crisis ensured nobody died during hurricanes there, in the United States, tens of thousands of poor people were left on the brink during hurricane Katrina. That is the nature of capitalism, in Ibadan, New Orleans and everywhere.
CD, UAD rally for Chima Ubani
September 21 makes it 6years that we lost Chima Ubani in an auto-crash at Potiskum while mobilising on the platform of the Labour Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), against fuel pump price hikes. Chima who had served as General Secretary of Campaign for Democracy and co-secretary of United Action for Democracy during the June 12 revolution was the co-secretary of LASCO when he died.
CD and UAD will hold a rally at Allen Avenue junction in commemoration of Chima and other martyrs of the struggle. This could mark a moment in the re-awakening of a mass democratic movement traditions such as those of the mid-1990s which Chima played a key role in the collective leadership of.
Working people’s struggles & solidarity
STRIKE WAVE SPREADS
by Baba Aye
The wave of strikes by workers demanding the payment of the new minimum wages by state governments which had started in August spread further in September. Enugu, Ebonyi and Katsina states were rocked to their very foundations as workers defied the states’ governments’ attempts to break their strikes.
Ebonyi state government opened a register at the state secretariat and threatened that workers who failed to report for work would be sacked. Workers showed their disdain for government orders and rather heeded the call of the NLC Caretaker Committee. Its Chair, Ike Aboga had pointed out to the workers that if united and determined, victory is certain.
The neo-fascist attack of labour leaders by the Enugu state government ended up disgracefully. The state government has headed for the courts in an attempt to diffuse the struggle by reducing it to legal jargons. But the workers are not fooled for a minute! They continue the strike, with their demands unshaken.
The Katsina government’s efforts at divide and rule failed to work. Its attempts to separate non-core civil servants such as health workers who are on distinct salary scales that are more favourable than that of the minimum wage in dispute from the strike were rebuffed. The same goes for senior civil servants in parastatals of the state. There slogan is clear: “an injury to one is an injury to all”.
Struggle brings out the finest traditions of solidarity which binds working people for further struggle. The wave of strikes is still billowing as storms of mass anger and broader struggles for the soul of the country and the transformation of society loom ahead.
EGYPTIAN TEACHERS DOWN TOOLS
by E. Todun Jagun
Teachers in Egypt began an indefinite strike action mid-September. The teachers were
demanding that the new minimum wage and 200% productivity bonus for public sector workers agreed upon with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf some months ago be implemented
The capitalist elite are essentially the same everywhere; they have to be fought for us to enjoy collective agreements, even after political revolutions like that in Egypt. But it might be interesting to note that the last time teachers ever went on strike in that country was in 1951! Revolutions do expand the democratic space and deepen the confidence of working people to reach even beyond what would sometime earlier be thought of as being unthinkable.
Every (triumphant) revolution brings us greater freedom and teaches us more lessons, while deepening our confidence. To win our total liberation capitalism would have to be overthrown internationally. The Egyptian teachers walk proudly today towards that day when another possible world is won.
WORKERS SHUT DOWN ENUGU
by Nnamdi Ikeagu
The long drawn strike action in Enugu deepened in September as workers in all sectors of the economy joined, shutting down the state. This was, as we reported earlier, in demand of the new minimum wage, (which then also sparked strikes in Plateau and Gombe states!) The state government which had earlier attempted to break the strike by attacking rank and file workers responded using the police, soldiers and thugs to try intimidating national trade union leaders who were in the state capital to address workers on September 8.
Abdulwahed Omar, NLC President; Peter Esele, TUC President and Owei Lakemfa, NLC Ag. General Secretary were amongst labour leaders briefly detained illegally at the Gold Value hotel by policemen and soldiers on the directive of Sullivan Chime, the State Governor. When a loud outcry rose immediately, the police and soldiers were withdrawn.
The dictatorial governor later sent in armed thugs as well.
These vicious acts did not stop the massive rally of striking workers which was addressed by the labour leaders from holding. The resolve of workers in the state remains unshaken. It might be recalled that a decade ago, Enugu state rank and file workers fought the state government to a standstill, establishing a “workers parliament” that coordinated rolling strikes and demonstrations throughout a whole year, after state labour leaders succumbed to the government’s carrot and stick.
SWL salutes the courage and commitment of the striking workers and urges them to continue the struggle till victory is won. NLC and TUC have called for an inquiry over the illegal deployment of soldiers for the draconian act. We support this line of action.
It is however important to point out that the action of governor Chime reflects the fact that the police and army in a capitalist society are primarily instruments for forcing the will of capitalists on us. Striking workers were similarly attacked by the Georgian state in Europe and the governor of Wisconsin hired mercenaries against protesting workers in America. We can however resist this as workers in Enugu and across the world are doing. To win our freedom though, and also ensure the wealth of society benefits the working people, our resistance must lead to REVOLUTION FROM BELOW! Workers have to use their power to overthrow the capitalist society and build socialism.
Nigeria Socialist Party meets in Benin
Efforts at forming a Nigeria Socialist Party seems to be taking on added steam. The third in a series of efforts towards establishing it is scheduled for Saturday September 24 at Benin City.
The need for a revolutionary workers’ party, based on a socialist programme cannot be overemphasized. Such a party must establish organic relations with the working people through active participation in the struggles of workers, youths, women & the nationalities, on the basis of which it wins the respect and leadership of the toiling masses.
Troy Davis is a 43yrar old black American who was sentenced to death in August 1991 supposedly for killing a security man. But seven of the nine persons who testified against him have recanted saying there were pressures from the police for them to implicate Troy. No evidence was ever produced linking Troy to the crime and the racial composition of the jury that found him guilty was questionable He just happens to be poor, black, young and around the wrong place in the wrong time.
Socialist Workers League calls for justice to be done: FREE TROY DAVIS NOW!
AIRPORT RD. BRANCH HOLDS DISCUSSION FORUM
The Airport Rd. branch, Abuja of SWL held a Public Discussion Forum on privatisation and capitalist accumulation in September. Discussions by workers and youths were very lively and united in seeing privatisation as an anti-people policy of the capitalist elite. 27copies of SWB were sold at the programme