YEAR OF THE FIRE THIS TIME!
The year 2011 will go down in history as one of those years that re-shaped the world. With its raging fires and ashes that still bear embers of further impending struggles, the clenched fist of resistance led millions of men, women, youths and even children forward in pursuit of freedom, justice and a better world.
These fires raged, ignited earlier in the year by what has become defined as the Arab Spring. The movement of los indignados (the indignant) in Spain, riots on the streets of London, Athens and Rome, and the Occupy Wall Street Movement all made the year one that will never be forgotten by the capitalists with awe and by the working people of the world with a sense of confidence that we can change the world.
There have been similar years in human, when waves of revolutions have sucked countries within the international capitalist economy into whirlwinds of crises and resistance, shaking the system and belief in it to the very foundations. Most analysts have related 2011 to 1848 or/and 1998. Both years, as with other periods that have witnessed such fierce waves of revolutionary struggle in modern industrial (i.e. capitalist) society; have been preceded by severe capitalist economic crisis.
In 1848, some fifteen countries in Europe witnessed revolutions with the masses rising to decide the fates of these countries. Most of the revolutions were defeated, but in the ashes of this upsurge, the working class across Europe rose to its stature as a class in itself, which could give leadership to the masses in the struggle for democracy and emancipation.
The fire in 1968 was ignited 51years after the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia. In less than a decade after that workers’ revolution though, a class of Stalinist bureaucrats had rolled back workers’ power, instituting state capitalism. But the Stalinist bureaucracy still claimed to be representative of the workers and not capitalism and described the USSR and its satellites as socialists. Workers and youths who rose against capitalism that year, including in Czechoslovakia, within the Soviet empire (this Prague Spring was brutally repressed by forces of the USSR) could however not identify themselves with the so-called “socialism” of the soviet union. The New Left, encompassing a broad array of change-seeking activists, including socialists flourished as a consequence.
The state capitalist empire of the Soviet Union decayed and by 1989/91 collapsed in a period marked also by waves of massquakes across the world, that included the massacres of Chinese students by a supposedly “communist” regime in China and the anti-SAP revolt here in Nigeria. With its collapse, the neoliberal project of global capitalism consolidated itself, insisting, even as the Nigerian elites repeat today about removing fuel subsidy that “there is no alternative” (tina). For ten years, there was a downturn of popular struggle. By 1999, the seeds of today’s waves were laid, symbolised in 1999 with the birth of the alternative globalisation movement in Seattle. But the capitalist continued with privatisation, deregulation and cuts in public spending.
The deregulated greed of the capitalist elite across the world, reeking in corruption and over-confidence in its ability to maintain ideological and political control of their states might have been demonstrated very aptly in such sight-tight North African heads of states like Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi. The nature of capitalism and its leading figures in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia & the Americas, are however essentially the same. The capacity of working people to win equally cuts across the borders of nations, and peculiarities of culture. These are critical lessons of 2011.
Year 2011 might have come to an end, but its fires are still simmering and 2012 might very well be a more explosive year for workers and youths in our struggle for self-emancipation, across the world. In Nigeria, the impending sharp rise in petroleum products prices, particularly petrol, is likely to be like setting a keg of gunpowder ablaze.
We will definitely resist this with all our might. We will also raise deeper questions beyond the oil “subsidy” debate. We must question and fight against the capitalist system that justifies and promotes such anti-people policies like deregulation. Socialist Workers League was born in the heat of the 2011 wave of revolution with the merger of the old Socialist Workers Movement and the Socialist League on January 29, 2011.
In the past year, we have been at the barricades with other workers (and students, particularly on the platform of Socialist Youth League, the SWL organisation on campus). We have equally been and will continue to forge united fronts with other groups committed to fight for a better society. As we step into 2012, which will most likely turn out to be a very decisive year of struggle, we call on you to join us and let us together build the needed organisation for revolution.
Workers and youths! Unite and fight!
Beyond Boko Haram’s terror
By Baba Aye
The Boko Haram sect has claimed responsibility for the multiple bombings of churches across three states in the country (Yobe, Plateau and Niger) on Christmas day. These despicable acts claimed dozens of lives, causing so many common men and women deep grief and anguish at the loss of loved ones. The immediate reactions of Nigerians were mixed. Anger, naturally took the front row. Related to this is a growing feeling for retaliatory measures by Christians and ethnic-related organisations. But can this really be a way forward?
SWL categorically condemns this act of individual terror against common Nigerians. SWB has written on the scourge of Boko Haram in several of its editions. As we point out, the rise of Boko Haram is largely a symptom of deeper systemic problems inherent to the capitalist system which the country is a part of. This is however not in any way an excuse for the methods of the group, which hit more at the masses than the government.
It would however be moving further in the wrong direction if it is thought that retaliatory actions would either curtail the sect or lead to a resolution of the state of insecurity which is associated with its activities. The belief that government can guarantee security from Boko Haram and its likes is also a display of fantasy
If citizens were to defend ourselves on sectarian basis, or worse still, if Christians were to carry out retaliatory actions, the violence would only spiral. Most Moslems rightly condemn Boko Haram’s blood thirstiness. But if non-Muslims were to organise in self defence as some Nigerian bloggers such as Chinedu Akuta seem to propose, such fellow citizens would be the most likely to be killed as well. This situation would merely lead to Boko Haram winning even more recruits.
Does that mean we should surrender our security to the government of elites? Certainly not! On the face of it, the state is supposed to guarantee the security of citizens in a country. But the matter is never that simple. The first concern of the state is to secure the continued rule of elites in general, and particularly those in charge of the state apparatus at any point in time. Such insecurity as pervades the land now becomes used as an excuse to appropriate more money for security and to institute repressive measures against the possible revolt.
We will need to defend ourselves, but this must be across and not on the basis of our faiths. In our different communities, working people should establish popular vigilantes of Moslems, Christians, Traditionalists, etc.
Community vigilantes exist in quite a number of areas in the country. But what we are talking of must go beyond seeing security as merely a matter of “security”. Such popular vigilantes programme must include political/ideological education. In them, the mutual respect Nigeria’s working people have for each other irrespective of religion must be deepened by showing the roots of the “religious” problems we have as being economic and political.
The problem is not that of a sect. Boko Haram has come and will sooner or later go, just as did the Maitatsine, Jesu Oyingbo & similar sects that carried out brutality and violence against either their members or members of the public. But other like-minded sects will still emerge sooner or later as well, for as long as the contradictions of capitalism persist. This is one of the reasons why we need to overthrow the capitalist system which sets human beings against human beings in every sphere of our social life. In its place, we shall establish associative cooperation, building a socialist society where race, creed, nationality or ethnicity cannot be manipulated to divide us, with such pain and mayhem.
PETROLEUM SUBSIDY: SATANIC AND UNACCEPTABLE
By Tunde Liberty
During his presentation of the 2012 budget to the National Assembly, on Tuesday 13 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan avoided making a categorical statement on the status of “fuel subsidy” that had allegedly consumed N1.3trillion of the nation’s resources this year. Nevertheless, he made no provision for the subsidy in his allocations to the various sectors.
The Federal Government had earlier attributed the snail pace of overall development in the nation to the N1.3trillion the government is using to service subsidy on petroleum products in the country without addressing the ever increasing rate of corruption, and proposed removal of subsidy as panacea to the later. Government should look into other areas of generating funds, because removing subsidy of fuel with increase in tariffs and taxes made payable by the people would make life miserable for the people.
From all indications, the Jonathan-led government has made up its mind to fully deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry. Independent petroleum marketers, correctly reading the government’s mood, have resorted to hoarding petrol so as to make a killing when the formal pronouncement on withdrawal of subsidy is made. Long queues have developed in most fuel stations still dispensing the commodity, while many others have shut their gates to motorists. The result has been that motorists have been buying petrol at the black markets for as much as N250 per litre. The “subsidy” is as good as gone!
The postponement of the subsidy removal to April is just an attempt at postponing the doomsday for this regime. Nigerian must resist this obnoxious policy and fight to the last for system change
Lawmakers Rejects Removal of Subsidy
By Tunde Liberty
The House of Representative headed by Hon. Aminu Tambuwal on December 1, 2011 seemed to pitch its tent with the plights of mass of the Nigerian people when it unequivocally condemned the Federal Executive Council’s plan to remove subsidies on petroleum products in the country.
This was disclosed by the House when it adopted the report and recommendations of the Hon. John Enoh-led joint committee on finance, appropriation, legislative budget and research and national planning and economic development, on the 2012-2015 medium term fiscal framework (MTFF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) of the federal government. The 2012-2015 MTFF was laid on the floor of the House on November 2, 2011.
The legislators held that the proposal on fuel subsidy removal as contained in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and revised Fiscal Strategy Paper submitted to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan was premature.
The House therefore advised the executive arm of government to explore other sources of financing items for the deficit expected in the 2012 Appropriation Bill instead of relying on savings from the proposed subsidy removal.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had in a meeting with federal legislators at the Presidential Villa a few weeks before the hearing tried to persuade them to support the removal of subsidies on petroleum products saying that the federal government could no longer sustain the measure. Analysts say the government doles out more than N1 trillion naira a year to subsidize petroleum products but a huge part of the cash ends up in the pockets of corrupt senior petroleum ministry officials and their conniving oil marketers.
Economists, progressives and majority of Nigerian people believe the government’s planned removal of oil subsidy from next year is capable of tearing the nation into pieces due to the low standards of living. Could this be why the legislators stand against it?
It might be one of the reasons. But it is important that in periods leading to revolutions, different sections of the ruling elite begin to differ on policies and how to rule the country concerned. Some of them do as the legislators have done i.e. seem to stand by the masses while they continue to benefit their privileges as elite.
We welcome the senate and any group’s standing against the proposed fuel price increase, but we must not for one minute be deceived that the leopard has changed its spots. They are one and the same oppressors in the final analysis.
On the ASUU strike
By Ola Rasheed
As if in a twinkle of the eyes, two and half years have come and gone since the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Federal Government signed an agreement that many had felt would bring some stability to the university education. But ASUU is back at the barricades with a national strike that has paralysed activities in public universities across the country, for the past few weeks.
The FGN has refused to implement the agreement, despite the fact that both the current president Goodluck Jonathan and his former boss, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua used to be university teachers, whom many would have felt could better appreciate the crisis state of the country’s tertiary education system.
This system is nothing to right home about. The FGN should come out openly to state its reason for non-implementation of the agreement if it has any thing to say. But obviously it does not. This is the same thing it did during the minimum wage struggle. It is the stock in trade the government to disregard agreements it signs!
The Nigerian elite’s view of transforming the education system has simply been to set up entrepreneurial departments instead of providing the necessary infrastructure and equipment for existing courses. Education is not just about making small capitalists in the society. Quality education is important for building a democratic society.
The ASUU strike is for improvement of the country’s education system. Other trade unions and the civil society must give ASUU full support for this struggle now! Government must be made to implement the agreement with ASUU through mass action.
PRIVATIZATION: SENATE WANTS OBASANJO PROSECUTED
By Tunde Liberty
The senate ad-hoc committee which investigated the privatization and commercialization exercise of the nation’s owned properties carried out by the Bureau of Public Enterprise has recommended the prosecution of the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo over his alleged culpability in the sale of privatized companies.
The lawmakers made the demand during the debate on the report of its ad-hoc committee which investigated the activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from 1999 to date.
The Obasanjo led administration set up the National Council on Privatization (NCP) which oversees the activities of the BPE. It is charged with the overall responsibility of implementing the privatization and commercialization programme of the Federal Government.
During the first hearing and debate on the achievements of the Bureau of Public enterprise in July 2011, Senators qualified privatization exercise in the country as a failure, based on the low output of the exercise to economic growth and overall national development in Nigeria.
It is on this ground that the senate setup an ad-hoc committee headed by Senator Ahmed Lawan with the mandate to determine how much was realized from the sale of the companies and where the proceeds were paid into, while also determining how many jobs were lost and created after the privatization of companies; identify factors militating against the expected improved and good performance of the sold firms as well as determine the best way forward with the privatization and the desirable development and growth of the sold companies.
The committee’s report reveals that Obasanjo allegedly circumvented the NCP Act by selling some choice national assets to his cronies and political associates without due process.
Speaking on this development during the debate at the Senate floor, the Deputy Minority Whip Senator Abu Ibrahim asked the Senate to summon the courage to bring the former President to book over his actions in office.
“This Senate should have the courage to indict the former President for breaking the privatization laws. He personally sold some companies off. We shouldn’t shy away from doing so. The Senate Committee on Privatization should re-consider these companies…If the former President is involved, he should be reprimanded and prosecuted.”
Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi slammed Obasanjo for abusing the oath of office and that his actions concerning privatization smacks of executive recklessness.
Senator Sola Adeyeye reiterated that a former sitting President with vested interests sold off Nigeria’s assets to some politicians.
Reacting to the comments, Senator Lawan opened discussion on how the former Directors-General of the BPE and former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, allegedly operated and maintained eight foreign accounts contrary to NCP Act.
He said that “the recommendations are patriotic, devoid of any sentiment and we are very dispassionate in drafting the report. As if we knew this kind of thing would come up, the committee produced 24 video CDs.”
He further said that “what happened in Volkswagen was televised by NTA and Nigerians saw it. Volkswagen was bought in 2005 and for every transaction; there is a SPA and a Post-Acquisition Plan. The SPA states what actions the purchaser will take and what action the government will take. Post acquisition plan is the timetable.
In Volkswagen, acquired in October 2005, they were supposed to turn around that company to produce vehicles, what we saw there was a mighty complex that had massive warehouses full of vegetable oil, fertilizers, sugar, rice (all imported) and almost 1, 000 vehicles fully built. The purpose of privatizing Volkswagen was completely forfeited!”
The panel also recommended the removal of the Director-General of BPE, Ms Bolanle Onagoruwa for gross incompetence and the illegal and fraudulent sale of the federal government’s residual shares in Eleme Petrochemicals Company limited”.
The panel, which observed that a total of 122 enterprises were privatized during the period under review, said the goals of the programme as envisioned have not been reasonably met. it also recommended a holistic reorganization of the management of the BPE.
All these go to confirm the position of socialists over the years that privatization is an anti-people policy which merely benefits a few elite i.e. some capitalists. We thus seize this opportunity to call for the re-nationalization of all state-owned enterprises that have been privatized and for these to be under the democratic control and management of the workers.
SYL symposium at Ife
By Ismail Oloyede
The Socialist Youths league ‘’SYL’’ Obafemi Awolowo University ile-ife branch organized a ‘’one day symposium’’ and also, hosted a national internal workshop of the ‘’SYL’’ on 19th and 20th of November 2011 respectively.
The theme of the symposium held on the 19th of November was ‘’oil subsidy removal a pro masses or anti masses policy?” The sub-theme was ‘’the role of students’ movements in liberating society (Nigeria as a case study)”.
The symposium which began at 12:00 Noon, had the following people as keynote speakers, Dr Ife Adewunmi (the chairman ASUN OAU branch), Dr Mrs. Ajila (The treasurer ASUN OAU branch), comrade Adewale Balogun (Socialist Workers League National Treasurer) COMRADE Akinola Saburi(former president OAU students union), comrade Adodo Ekinabo A.k.a Destigy (former speaker OAU student union), comrade Andrew Segun Ogunnah a.k.a karl marx (former speaker OAU Students union ), comrade Dairo Olatunde a.k.a barry blacky (former P.R.O OAU students union), comrade Onyekachi Gandhi (former parliamentarian OAU SRC).
All the speakers asserted that the removal of oil subsidy is an anti-masses policy. Hence, they were unanimous in expressing their vehement opposition and disgust for president Dr Goodluck Jonathan and his obnoxiously repugnant policies ranging from deregulation of the power sector, removal of oil subsidy, lack of quality leadership, lack of basic infrastructural and social amenities, to corruption. The spate of strikes embarked upon by various labour unions and coalitions in the country, it was noted, reflected mass anger against the system. This is in opposition to the government’s insensitivity to the plight of the poor masses.
The various speakers and comrades that contributed in discussions were in agreement that any attempt by the government to remove the oil subsidy should be greeted with maximum civil disobedience, protests and riots. Nigerian workers and youths should also not stop at resistance. We must rise to fight for system change as well.
The symposium was attended by almost 200 students, including eight SYL activists from sister branches in several states within the south western zone of the country. It was the first time since the union was banned earlier in the year that any group had been able to organize anything close to this. 41 copies of the maiden edition of Socialist Youth! were sold at the programme