Say No!…to Death Sentences
Eighteen soldiers were recently charged with mutiny for protests related to the war against Boko Haram. A dozen were subsequently convicted and sentenced to death by the military court-martial sitting on 15 September 2014. On 14th May 2014, the soldiers protested against the avoidable deaths of their colleagues at the hands of the Boko Haram insurgents who have stronger fire power, the non-payment of their allowances, hunger and general neglect.These protests coincided with the visit of the General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.General Abubakar Mohammed and the gory sight of several bodies of soldiers who had just been killed by Boko Haram insurgents in an ambush.The military’s failure to check the insurgency has generated much public debate. No one is ready to accept the explanation of poor finance to procure the required military weapons and hardware as a reasonable reason. Huge budgetary allocations have been channeled towards the military sector in recent years. The people were therefore amazed to hear that the army had not enough and/or up-to-date weapons to confront the insurgents. So, the latest action of the military authorities to punish the soldiers for protesting against injustice can best be described as an act of blaming the victims of the system.
In a related development, many Nigerians and organisations including the Nigeria Labour Congress have called on the authorities to stop the conviction. If the soldiers were executed, this would amount to a show of power by the military authorities. Something they have failed to do by providing security and protecting lives and properties in the North East.
The lawyer and campaigner, Femi Aborisade, has lent his voice to the campaign to stop these death sentences. He sent a public letter to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Minister of Defence/Chairman of the Nigerian Army Council. Aborisade pointed out that the death sentence should be rescinded as the Tribunal was arbitrary in arriving at its judgement as it could not prove that the affected soldiers were involved in a mutiny. For the accusation of mutiny to stand, Aborisade argued, it must be seen in the context of an action linked to awar front situation that was capable of strengthening enemy forces.
The protests by the soldiers could at best be described as insubordination, not mutiny by legal standards. Soldiers, like other workers, should be allowed to protest, especially when their officers appear to be sending them to a war that appears like suicide and they are not even paid their agreed allowances.
EBOLA VIRUS EPIDEMIC AND HEALTH CHALLENGES
The Ebola virus originated in the 1970s in Sudan and Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). The actual source of this virus is yet to be determined beyond the preliminary assumption that it came about in the course of laboratory experimentation, thereby sharing the same source with HIV/AIDS.
The virus has assumed a fatalistic dimension, having killed over three thousands people since December 2013. Previous out-breaks, over the last three decades, only resulted in four hundred and fifty deaths. The virus hijacks the body’s immune system thereby damaging cells that ordinarily detect and fight back against the virus. The effect of this is that blood clots inside vessels and organs are damaged. This is why one notable symptom of the disease is the bleeding from the mouth, eyes and orifices.
The rapid spread of the Ebola virus has exposed the challenges in the health care systems in all the countries concerned. This is against the background of the level of poverty that bedevilled the people who find it difficult to feed well and can hardly pay their health bills.
There is no known cure for Ebola, beyond the experimental drugs like ZMapp and Nano Silver that have been successful with some patients, but failed on others. Patients are more likely to survive where there are hygienic conditions and they are given proper intravenous rehydration treatment.
The problem inherent in the health care systems of West Africa tells us much about the socio-economic system of capitalism. It is majorly concerned about generating profits rather than the well being and health of the poor.
The World Health Organisation says that public health services require at least N7,000 per person per year. In Nigeria the annual public health budget is less than N1,750 per person – a quarter of the minimum advised by the WHO.
There have been a number of strikes in the health service recently as health workers and doctors struggle to survive with the lack of funding. And this has been the challenges of the various unions in the sector. !
The private sector pharmacy companies had little interest in identifying a cure for Ebola, as previously so few people had contracted the disease in comparison with huge number involved in the case of malaria. It was for the same reason that prompt attention was not given to HIV/AIDS treatment, research and funding of vaccines. The research institutions in the developed economies are also secretive in the carrying out their research due to the rat race of competitive rivalry for their own profits, the Nobel Prize and other awards. This surely is a limitation of a capitalist system that is not able to guarantee safety and protection of life.
In contrast, in 2007, the Nigerian government sued the Pfizer pharmaceutical company for distributing an unregistered antibiotic during a meningitis outbreak in Kano state which claimed 11 000 lives. In an illegal clinical trial, with 200 children as young as 3 months, 11 died and others live with disabilities. Pfizer claims they distributed the unregistered drug as a ‘humanitarian gesture’. The drug they were testing was hoped to outdo their competitors. The trials ended at the height of the epidemic.
In addition, the responses to the current Ebola outbreak have emphasised the huge inequalities in the countries concerned. In Liberia, the inhabitants of West Point, a huge slum were restricted, with the army enforcing the quarantine at gunpoint.
Hawa Masallay, a market woman, explained that since the quarantine was imposed their children had not eaten. ‘Is it because of Ebola this woman [the President] must kill us? We are tired with this thing. It is worse now.”
This is an utterly barbaric response to the crisis by sealing in the poor to await their fate as if the poor people are expendable. Quarantining so many people in such close quarters, with the disease, also creates a huge reservoir in which Ebola can spread and transform, creating a very real risk of it evolving to become more dangerous.
In Sierra Leone the whole country was put under curfew for three days and many people still suffer huge restrictions on their movements. In contrast, governments of the region have agreed not to impose restrictions on air travel for the rich.
BEYOND RECLAIMING THE LABOUR PARTY
by Baba Aye
Labour Party is at the crossroads. After Dr Olusegun Mimiko, crossed carpeted from the party to the Peoples Democratic Party on October 2, the LP leadership still intends to go ahead with its National Convention fixed for October 11, at Akure. Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress have taken a principled stand that this is quite immoral to say the least. Consequently, the trade unions have summoned a stakeholders’ meeting for October 9, to chart a new course for the party.But moving forward requires our understanding where we got it wrong.
At the heart of the problem are critical ideological, political and organizational issues. Some of these have been raised and resolutions passed on them in the past with no actions taken. This is a major reason why the party and the labour movement had drifted apart over the past dozen years of the former’s existence.
Before the formation of LP, NLC had resolved that a workers’ party had to be based on a socialist programme to really promote the struggle of the working class for self-emancipation. This resolution was reaffirmed by the 2003 NLC Delegates Conference.But curiously, the Labour Party that Congress formed chose an ideology of “social democracy” at a time that social democracy was being discredited worldwide. Labour Parties that professed this ideology have been at the forefront of pushing austerity measures in Europe for example.Politically, the trade union leaders seemed less concerned about building an independent party of the working class.
Most ex-unionists elected into legislative or executive arms of the state have contested on the platforms of PDP or APC. And even NLC campaigned the APC in Edo and Ekiti states.More importantly, politics has not been pursued as something beyond electoralism.The needed type of workers’ party must constantly mobilize working people in struggle against all forms of oppression, for us to liberate ourselves from the tyranny and exploitation of the bosses.
This requires close ties with the trade unions not just at national or federation levels.Membership mobilization must be rooted in the workplaces and communities. Socialmovements including radical “civil society organizations” and socialist groups like theSWL have critical roles to play in the dynamics of such organizing.It is in this sense that SWL very much welcomes the forthcoming stakeholders’meeting as a first (and long overdue) step at initiating a broader involvement of revolutionary and radical forces in labour’s partisan politics.
There is however a clear need for foresight over astonishment. It is very unlikely thatthe Labour Party can at this stage be reclaimed, as steps in that direction at this time amount to too little and too late. Lessons have been learnt from the trade union bureaucracy’s mistakes on the Labour Party. But the die is already cast between the LP leadership that will definitely go ahead with its convention at Akure and the NLC/TUC that appear to have gotten their political groove back.
The most important lesson at this juncture might simply be this: the way forward is to build a new mass workers’ party on a path of struggle for the working class’ self-emancipation. SWL has been active in the LP precisely because of its ties, tenuous as they were to the unions. We would welcome with vigour, this new opening of struggle for us all and call on Nigerian workers to dare to build a socialist workers party and dare to bring to birth anew world based on solidarity and cooperation.
NUMSA Special Conference in South Africa
by Baba Aye
At its Special National Congress in December 2013, the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) which is the biggest union in the history of South Africa announced plans to “explore” the establishment of a Movement for Socialism to prepare for a new socialist party.As the next step in this process, NUMSA held an International Symposium of Left Parties and Movements in August 2014 with the theme: “Building Our Movement for Socialism: Learning from the Lessons of Others”. Eventually 27 persons/groups from 17 countries participated including an SWL member from Nigeria.
The International Symposium was a milestone within the process NUMSA is unfolding towards establishing a working class alternative to the class collaborationist politics of the ANC government in South Africa. The next major step is a Conference on Socialism, scheduled for March next year. At the closure of the symposium, the union’s president opined that theorization on the way forward, resting on lessons learnt from the symposium and the lived and living experiences of NUMSA and its membership would inform discussions at this forthcoming conference.
In July 2014, NUMSA led a month long strike of 200,000 of its members who won increases of up to 10% over the next three years – significantly above inflation. This strike followed immediately after the victorious five-month strike by 70,000 platinum miners.These strikes could mark a major change in South Africa, the beginning of the end of Apartheid style wages and the end of mass support for the ANC.
The ANC brought the political end of Apartheid, but the economic conditions of the mass of the black workers had hardly begun to change in the 20 years since the ANC came to power.For other workers in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa recent events in South Africa are an inspiration. The victorious engineering and platinum miners strikes and the other strikes in South Africa show that even in difficult circumstances, if workers stand united and firm, they are able to win significant economic gains.
The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx
By Alex CallinicosHaymarket Books, 2012 ∙ 262 pages ∙ $16.00
(Nigerian Edition: Books Farm House & Publishers – N2000)
Review by Phil Gasper (http://tinyurl.com/SocWork54)
Marx’s ideas are finding a new audience among those fighting against the current system. In Egypt there is a growing audience for a Marxist analysis of why the revolution has stalled and how it can be pushed forward. In Germany his great work has become a bestseller – again!Callinicos’s book begins with a lively account of Marx’s life, showing how his ideas developed and emphasizing “the unity of Marx’s life and thought as critical theorist and revolutionary activist.”
Marx, in other words, was interested in understanding the world not as an abstract intellectual exercise, but in order to change it.Over the years, in collaboration with Engels, Marx developed a set of ideas to explain the course of human history, the necessity for a socialist revolution, and the key role that the working class would play in such a struggle. After examining Marx’s political and intellectual influences, Callinicos turns to an exposition of his mature views on history, economics, and revolution, paying close attention to Marx’s own words.
Marx was a materialist in the sense that he believed that material conditions, and in particular the way in which production was organized in a society, explain the way in which ideas, laws and customs develop. He also noted that for all of recorded history, human society has been divided into exploiting and exploited classes—a minority that controls society’s surplus wealth (that is, resources not needed for immediate consumption) and a much larger group that actually produces it.
This is why “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.”Different forms of society are based on different relations of exploitation. In slave societies, the direct producers are literally owned by members of the exploiting class. In feudal societies, peasants are not owned by lords, but they are controlled by political and military means. In modern capitalism, control over workers is mainly exercised through more subtle economic means. Workers are free to leave a job if they choose, but the vast majority of workers can only make a living if they submit to exploitation by someone.
But there have been different forms of class society due to the fact that as changes accumulate in an economy, contradictions begin to develop at the base of society, altering the balance of class forces, and producing major crises. These crises can result “in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”
Marx spent much of his adult life developing an account of how capitalism works and why it too cannot avoid periodic and devastating crises. One of the strongest sections in Callinicos’s book is the chapter on capitalism, which is the best short introduction to Marx’s economic ideas that I know. It is worth buying the book for this chapter alone.The subsequent chapter on workers’ power, explaining how the working class has the power to change society and the radically democratic alternative to capitalism that Marx envisaged, is also essential reading for anyone who wants to transform the world today.
Among other things, it makes clear that Marx’s vision of socialism had nothing in common with oneparty dictatorships like the former Soviet Union (or Ethiopia and Angloa, for example, in African) that declared themselves to be socialist or communist. For Marx, the key question was not whether the economy was controlled by the state, but which class controlled the state. A society can onlybe socialist if power is in the hands of workers themselves.Callinicos describes his book as “a contribution to the struggle against capitalism, and for socialism.” By presenting Marx’s ideas in a clear and accessible way, he has made it easier for a new generation of activists to see their relevance for the political battles facing us today.
STUDENTS’ POWER GATHERS STORM
by Kunle Wizman Ajayi
Students are on the march all over the country despite the setback of the right wing national leadership of the students’ Union, NANS. They are out resisting attempts toplunge them and their parents into further hardship. This series of articles gives a pictureof what is happening at some of our key institutions.“Aluta bells are ringing!” – announced a student-leader at the Olabisi Onabanjo University(OOU) in mid-August. He was only waking the mass of students that had berated the Ogun State government.
The students, after the first day of protest had left Government House unattended and moved to the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) House where only the women could be accommodated while the men kept vigil at a college opposite. Students hardly slept as they formed a defence line against the hired thugs of the statewho had threatened to attack the students in the night. Ogun state students’ movement had been under the siege of known cultists who are ex-student-leaders, but still hold a criminal sway on the campuses.
These persons are given public positions by the state government in order to cow the just risings of students against the obnoxious education policies being implemented.Like in Lagos and other states of the country, the Ogun state government has astronomically increased fees. After much agitations and in fear of that the inspiration from LASU’s historic fees reversal could restore the students’ uprising, the Ogun state government announced “fees reduction” in all the schools in the state. But the reduction is not completed – as at LASU.
The students’ congress at Ago-Iwoye promptly convened and rejected the reductions. The congress insisted on a total reversal to at most N50,000, and with immediate implementation. The government had announced that the reduction wouldonly be effective from next session. The mass of students are right, and should even demand for bursaries and scholarships tocomplement the N50,000 as most of the parents are starkly poor and for those who havejobs cannot afford the fee from the paltry N18,000 minimum wage.The second day of protest by OOU students was successful despite the teargas andharassments by the police. Even the attack allegedly sponsored by a former student-leader could not break the students’ will! At last, the Governor, Ibikunle Amosun was forced to address the students and promised to look into their demands within a week.
UNIABUJA FEES INCREMENT
The University of Abuja has been under lock and key for the past months due to student protests against astronomic fee hikes, on one hand, and the trade union, ASUU’s protest against the misappropriation of funds, on another hand. The students and workers in UNIABUJA must continue to build political synergy in pursuing their cause.
HOW LASU’S STUDENTS SHOW THE WAY
The student at Lagos State University (LASU) finally won a great victory when the Governor reversed the hike in fees. The fees have now been returned to the old level of N20,000.This victory was a product of resilience and principled fighting. Despite the length of the battle and the many accusation and attacks on the leadership, plus the many betrayals within, the students’ union leadership led the struggle to its logical conclusion.
Some unions have drawn inspirations from this while others that are presently in the habit of negotiations and diplomacy rather than earlier tradition of militancy hat students are noted for have to learn from this. Even when the management and the Lagos State Government made a small reduction, the students’ union stood her ground.
The help to excuse the Lagos State Government and draw more support from the working people.UNILAG needs such solidarity now as the fight for a new union after the long proscription is now in its concluding stage. UNILAG management must not be allowed to distort the political will of the students by imposing a constitution on the students.
STUDENTS AND WORKERS TO UNITE IN STRUGGLE
The various workers in the education sector have been going on strike from one period to another without season. Such was the strike of ASUU that lasted six months and earned it 200 billion naira to be ejected into the University system every year for the next five years.The Polytechnic and College of Education Academic Staff Union also had their own share that lasted for ten and eight years respectively in 2013.
The experience of LASU has shown that when workers and students unite to fight for a common cause, the result is always historic. This is why one urges all workers’ unions to take a conscious step uniting with students through their unions and radical groups in fighting against the current underdevelopment in the country’s education.
This should also be replicated in other sectors of our society. Students’ union leaders who have illusions in the current system and believe that negotiations and diplomacy can gain the necessary concessions should have a rethink, and understand these wise words of V.I Lenin, the Russian socialist:
“Only struggle educates the exploited class. Only struggle discloses to it the magnitude of its own power, widens its horizon, enhances its abilities, clarifies its mind, (and) forges its will”
BOKO HARAM INSURGENCE ON THE OFFENSIVE
Boko Haram moved to a new stage as they seized the key provincial town of Bama (along with several other towns) in the North East and South of Borno State. Despite their several defeats at the town of Konduga 20km from Maiduguri, they have now held significant parts of the state for several months.In early August they captured Gwoza, a town of perhaps 250,000 people.
Later in the month they attacked a near-by police academy for the second time. In late August Boko Haram declared an Islamic state covering Gwoza and other areas that they control. At about the same time, they chased nearly five hundred soldiers across the border in to Cameroon.The soldiers returned to Nigeria a few days later, contradicting the idea that they had deserted.
However, there have been reports of several mutinies within the army ranks and recently soldiers' wives protested at the deployment of their husbands, saying they were ill-equipped to fight the insurgents. A dozen soldiers have been condemned to death for mutiny and 92 other are being court martialed.
This further exposes how unpopular the government has been among the military. It is a clear indication that justice is central to the source and solution to the war. The fight back against the insurgency has taken a global dimension in form of campaigns since April this year, when over two hundred girls at the boarding school in Chibok were captured. Although little has been heard about the brave young women that managed to escape.
The illusion of the Nigerian Government on the developed countries resolving the crisis by way of a military solution has been dashed. Despite military support, for example, from US, Britain, Israel and China. Their impact is yet to be felt as the insurgents are gaining the upper hand They are also broadening the base of their attack in other parts of the north that include Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Zaria, Jos, Gombe, Bauchi, Suleija and Abuja where there have been sporadic bombings over time.
The situation has raised more questions than the state has been able to answer. This is in respect of the weakling of the military that has been allocated greater percentage of the annual budget for a very long time and trillions of naira in the recent period. It is therefore very surprising to hear that the institution lacks hardware and equipment.
This is a pointer to the state of corruption that has eaten deep in the military and the government as a whole. There have been successive events whereby $9.3 million and$5.7 million belonging to Nigeria Federal Government was seized in South Africa. Thishas generated heated debate. Although the Government claimed that it was to procure ammunitions and other military equipments. If this is true, why did they not pay the money through the banks as their own laws require? Why is the government using dubious ‘consultants’ from the racist state of Israel to buy military equipment?
One of the most urgent tasks is the establishment of a united front against the state of emergency. There are several social forces that are against the state of emergency for diverse reasons. Socialists and other militants in Nigeria need to take up the argument against the state of emergency in trade union branches and other working class bodies. They need to argue that Boko Haram is basically a symptom of poverty and despair. It is unlikely that Boko Haram will be defeated militarily. We need negotiation, amnesty and resettling to ensure the students of Chibok come home safely.
The US army is retreating from Afghanistan where they failed to defeat the Taliban. Obama recently negotiated the release of five Taliban held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for one US soldier. The British government negotiated with the IRA to bring peace to Northern Ireland. The Spanish government negotiated with ETA to bring peace to the Basque region. The Nigerian government negotiated with militants of the Niger Delta. So what is so different about negotiating with Boko Haram?
STRIKE WAVE CONTINUES
There have been a series of strikes recently by workers in different sectors of the economy.In the case of the 104 Federal Government Unity Schools across the country the teachers embarked on indefinite strike over the unpaid promotion arrears that dates back to 2007. The strike was on for upward of two weeks after the expected resumption date of September 22. The teachers insisted not to resume until all the backlog of the unpaid allowances had been paid.
The government has waded into the case in addressing the grievances of the workers.Almost at the same time, NUPENG resumed its earlier strike that had been called off in July. This was due to the intervention of the labour ministry over the management ofChevron reneging on the agreement. The strike was in solidarity with Chevron workersthat were being arbitrarily sacked.In the same month, there was another strike in the sector that involved both NUPENG and PENGASSAN, it lasted for five days.
The strike was in respect of the withdrawal of the license of Pension Fund Administrator from the NNPC by the Pension Commission. This was to operate a defined benefit pension scheme for their members. This grievance was won. Another reason for the strike was the demand of the unions for Turn Around Maintenance for the four existing oil refineries. This is necessary to boost the capacity for local refining of petroleum products so that oil imports can be reduced.
The central government and NNPC have agreed to look at this issue.The Judiciary Staff Union of Union (JUSUN) with its national strike paralysed the justice system for three weeks. Their demand was over the financial independence of the judiciary across the three arms of government. The Union financial allocations to state judiciaries be paid directly to the state courts (in line wit a court order). The strike was called off in August. However, Federation Account Allocations Committee (FAAC) reneged on the agreement to include the state judiciaries as a first line charge.
Three weeks after, the justice system in Ondo State was once again disrupted over charges of maladministration by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Lasehinde Kumuyi. He was accused of adopting wrong policies in the administration of the state judiciary that include deploying magistrates for administrative positions.At the Balyesa Polytechnic State all the Unions of workers that comprised the academic and non-academic staff including the senior staff embarked on one-day warning strike to express their grievances against with-holding their promotions.
At the Murtala Muhammed International Airport an Air France/KLM flight was disrupted by aviation workers. They were led by their union, the National Union of Air Transport Workers that picketed the airline for refusing to increase their salary structure.In Edo State, the workers under the aegis of the coalition of Unions of the State Tertiary Institutions embarked on strike in the state to get the Edo State Government to pay their accumulated unpaid salaries, harmonisation and other entitlements. The Governor, Oshiomole, threatened to sack the striking workers if they did not go back towork. This caused the workers and their unions to vow to go to the street to express their grievances to the people of the state.
So the Governor has now backed down and asked for the costs of the workers’ demands.The strike of the polytechnics and colleges of education lasted for ten and eight months respectively late last year. These were to be resumed in July as the government had failed to address their grievances. But the new minister of education pleaded for time and so the strike was postponed.At the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), the workers decided on their own to stay at home. This was against the background of the scare of Ebola epidemic virus that hit the hospital and claimed the life of a medical doctor.
But the hospital was silent of the incident while the corpse of the victim was left in the morgue.The management was also accused of negligence in not making adequate protective provision for laboratory workers and others in the critical departments of the hospital.Teachers in Ekiti State went on strike on October 2 to plead with the outgoing governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi to pay their three mouths (July – September) salaries outstanding before he left office. The strike has been called off on the assumption of the new governor would promptly pay the outstanding salaries.
Why US and UK should not bomb Iraq and Syria
1) The West’s last operation in Iraq ended just three years ago. For those with a short memory it didn’t go well. More than half a million people died, millions fled the country and Iraq’s infrastructure was devastated.The operation generated deep resentment against the West.
2) The current chaos in Iraq – including the rise of the reactionary ISIS – is largely the result of the eight years of US occupation. On top of the trauma of the assault, sectarian division was built into the operation. Elections were organised along communal lines and the authorities used sectarianism to undermine resistance. By 2006, Baghdad had been turned from an integrated, modern city into a patchwork of ruined communal ghettoes. The open discrimination of the Western-backed Maliki government detonated a Sunni insurgency last year that helped fuel the rise of Isis in Iraq.
3) Bombing always kills and terrorises civilians. Recent coalition bombing raids on Raqqa in Syria have brought death and panic to its residents. One civilian there told western reporters ‘I would not wish them on my worst enemy’.
4) All three of Britain’s major military interventions in the last thirteen years have been disasters. In 2001 wewere told an invasion of Afghanistan would rout the Taliban. Thirteen years and tens of thousands of deaths later the Taliban have grown in strength and the country is broken. The bombing of Libya in 2011 was justified as essential to stop a massacre by Gaddafi. After it began an estimated 30,000 were killed in a terrifying cycle of violence. The country is now a failed state with no real government.
5) The coalition that has been put together for the bombing of Syria – apparently in an effort to give the attacks legitimacy – comprises some of the most ruthless and benighted regimes in the region. Human RightsWatch reports that nineteen people were beheaded in Saudi Arabia in August. Qatar and UAE have notorioushuman rights’ records that include the use of forced labour. All three have funded violent Jihadi groups in the region.
6) Bombing raids will increase hatred of the west. One of the wider results of the ‘War on Terror’ has been to spread Al- Quaida and other terrorist groups across whole regions of the world. In 2001 there were relatively small numbers of such militants, centred mainly on Pakistan. Now there are groups across the middle east, central Asia and Africa.
7) Mission creep is almost inevitable. There are already more than a thousand US military active in Iraq and senior US military figures are arguing they should now be openly involved in fighting. In Britain a growing number of voices from Tony Blair to Lieutenant General Sir Graeme Lamb are recommending British boots on the ground.
8) The attack will cost an enormous an amount of money – that could be spent on stopping Ebola.One Tomahawk cruise missile costs £850,000, enough to pay the annual salary of 28 British nurses. The US has already fired about 50 of these missiles at ISIS targets in Syria.It is estimated Britain spent between £500 million and one billion pounds bombing Libya in 2011.
Stop the massacre in Gaza!
by Drew Povey
No one who has a conscience could watch the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and the human tragedy unfolding without speaking up. The state of Israel continually wages a war against ordinary Palestinians. It has killed over 2,000,injured 10,000 and displaced around a fifth of the population of the Gaza Strip.Since 1948, the Zionist state of Israel has gradually been taking more and more land from thePalestinians. Palestine is now divided into two parts – like the bantustans of Apartheid South Africa –the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
This continues with the growing Jewish settlements in the West Bank that are still taking more land from Palestinian villages.The Gaza strip is an open-air prison that’s been under siege since 2006. It is one of the most denselypopulated places on earth. Some 1.8 million people are crammed into just 140 square miles of land.Israel has nearly halved Gaza in its latest assault, reducing the area by 44 percent. The Israeli Defense Force has declared any area within three miles of the Israeli border a “no go zone”.
Yet even outside of this “no go zone” much of Gaza is now uninhabitable due to the bombing, which has destroyed homes and the little infrastructure that there is.
Israel is the aggressor
It is often suggested that ‘both sides’ are responsible for the bloodshed and that it was the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas that triggered the spiral of violence, where Israel had no choice but to act in ‘self-defense’. But there is no symmetry in this conflict. Israel is armed to its teeth with modern military equipment(including nuclear weapons – the only country in the middle east with such weapons). Israel is heavily backed by the US and has received more financial and military aid from the US than any other country in 1945.
Hamas has to rely on primitive rockets. As the democratically elected government of Palestine, it was ejected from the West Bank in a coup supported by Israel and the US. Where Israeli civilians can seek shelter, Palestinians have nowhere to go. The two border posts are closed, there are no shelters and the Israeli Defense Force has bombarded schools and hospitals, where desperate people thought they might be safe. This is why the toll on Palestinian civilians is so high. Every one of the countries neighboring Israel has been attacked by the Israeli military. Sudan was bombed in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Even in Nigeria we are not safe, the dreaded State Security is now being trained by Mossad, the Israeli secret service.
The Israeli bombardment is not an act of self-defense. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhoodin Egypt. The removal of Mohamed Mursi, the Brotherhood’s Egyptian president, and his replacementby Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seemed to complete the isolation of Hamas. But then Hamas signed a unity agreement in June this year with Fatah, nominally in control of the West Bank.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was furious. Previously, according to the Professor of History, Adan Sabra, ‘the separate Hamas government in Gaza permitted the Israeli state to effectively divide and rule by turning Hamas against Fatah in West-Jordan.
The possibility of unity between the two Palestinian forces seemed to be the main motive for Netanyahu’s decision to attack’. Netanyahu seems to have decided to exploit the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers in theWest Bank to drive Hamas into further isolation. His brutal cynicism is indicated by the fact that the Israeli authorities have now admitted that Hamas had nothing to do with the boys’ deaths.
An end to the conflict?
First of all, there is need for an immediate stop of the bombardment of Gaza and the end of its siege by Israel. Palestinians need to breathe, to eat, to bury their loved ones and to rebuild of what is left of their homes. There is an urgent need for massive international aid for rebuilding schools, hospital and basic infrastructure.
But lasting peace can only be achieved if the state of Israel is disarmed and abandons its Zionist ideology. This gives the ‘right to return’ to Jews anywhere in the world, but denies basic democratic rights to Arabs living in Palestine. Both, Jews and Palestinians would gain immensely from such a scenario, as it would allow both populations to live peacefully side by side
National Conscience Party at Twenty
by Biodun Olamosu
The organisation that was earlier named simply National Conscience and metamorphosed later into a fully fledge political party, was founded by the radical pro-democracy activist lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi. On October 1 1994, Gani sent out notice of invitation for a rally at Ojota, the gateway to Lagos. At the rally he proclaimedthe formation of National Conscience as a platform of struggle against the extant Abacha military dictatorship. Forms were issued to prospective members across the country. Hundreds of thousands joined the party despite witch-hunting by the state that caused them to be arrested, detained and harassed. Just like the leaders of the party, the rank and file members did not mind to die for the cause of emancipating themselves, the poor, from the hands of the rich and their executive committee constituted in the form of the government and the state.
The party came about as a child of necessity when the other human rights groups were exhausted. Gani and others did not venture to form their political platform until their idea had been rejected by the pro-democracy movement. The ideals of the party became encapsulated in its 10-Care Programme. These include the struggle against neoliberal policy of SAP, commercialisation and privatization. Other promises included – cheap and affordable housing; transportation and communication; free and adequate funding of education and health care systems; end to unemployment and payment of unemployment allowance to the concerned people; development of agriculture in meeting the food needs of the people.Unlike the parties of the rich, the NCP never had illusion in electoral politics as something that could be isolated from other forms of struggle especially the well known working class radical tradition.
The NCP led the people’s fight against the undemocratic registration of political parties which resulted in the present multiparty system.The Labour Party is now dominated by the capitalist politicians and bureaucratic labour leadership. This shows how important the leadership question is to a party, especially during its formation and management. Unfortunately, the management oriented trade union leaders do not know the value of Labour Party as a weapon of struggle in advancing the cause of the poor. A generation of radical labour leadership is required to show direction by striking example, as it was the case with Michael Imoudu, Wahab Goodluck, Nduka Eze, Gogo Nzeribe and others in the labour movement.
It is commendable that the Lagos based Joint Action Front (JAF) adopted the NCP as an electoral platform. But JAF must not lose touch with its responsibilities to organised labour and the informal sector.
EKITI AND OSUN ELECTIONS APC’S VICTORY AND LOSE: THE LIMIT OF WELFARISM
by Bayo Akanji
The governorship elections, in Ekiti and Osun states recently,were a test of wit among the topmost contending parties.They came on the heels of the merger of the three opposition political parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC).Others include the Peoples’ Democratic Party and the Labour Party.
The result produced by the elections could hardly be described as a significant support for any of the political parties, but a protest votes if the poor turnout and votes for the incumbents were anything to go by. This was the reason that the PDP candidate, Ayo Fayose won in Ekiti by obtaining 203,000 (57 percent of the votes) while the incumbent governor, the flag bearer of APC recorded 123,433 votes and the third contender, Bamidele Opeyemi under the platform of Labour Party had only 18,135 votes. In the case of Osun State, the incumbent governor on the platform of APC won with 394,684 votes (representing 55 percent of the votes)while the closest contender, PDP candidate, Iyiola Omisore had 292,747 votes (40 percent).
The debate of ‘stomach infrastructures’ followed the elections by both parties. This tells much about the level of poverty and ignorance that is gradually being taken for granted as a permanent feature. The politicians believe this is the best way they can continue to keep themselves permanently in power. To worsen the situation, the two dominant political parties – Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress are pursuing the same economic agenda of neo-liberalism. Though the PDP makes no pretension of being a conservative party in the interests of the rich; the APC believes it possesses a progressive agenda even when facts on ground speak otherwise. Whoever wins the masses are the victims.
This should not be a surprise. A people that have been subjected to a long period of impoverishment, oppression and hardship by the ruling class would sooner or later fall victim to deceit, money inducement, appeal to base instincts and inconsequential primordial sentiments. More often than not, the direction of peoples’ votes today follows a non-ideological trend.Both Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola belong to the APC,but the outcome of their elections went different ways. With Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti State), not a few people believe that he was rejected because of his poor performance in office.
In the case of Rauf Aregbesola (Osun State), however, it was quite obvious that the zeal and commitment by which he was implementing his welfare programmes and the impact these were having on the masses were largely responsible for his victory despite the unprecedented militarisation of the election. The achievement of Aregbesola confirmed his radical political background, at a point in time, and at the same time exposed the contradictions within the APC as a party. It lends credence to the emerging feelings that the party could not even meet up with Awolowo’s legacy of the social democratic programmes that they claimed to represent.
This truism of ideological confusion was even confirmed byChief Olu Akinyelure, the Vice Chairman of APC South West inhis post-election congress at Ibadan when he stated that:“APC must become a political party that can act as a socialmovement. We need to start doing and playing politics ofideology and values . . . so that our politics can once againgenerate genuine movement for progressive change.” What is to be looked into by the party is the issue of where itstands with capitalism as there cannot be welfarism with neo-liberalism (privatisation, end of fuel subsidy etc). This iswhy no matter the degree of success achieved by Aregbesolaon his welfare programme; there is a limit, beyond where hecan go, under the present neo-liberal orientation of his party.Welfarism is a variant of capitalism, a concessionary measureput in place by imperialist countries to stem and prevent therising wave of revolution in the 1950s and 1960s. It is only with the emergence of a mass party of the workingclass that is democratic with socialist programmes that theneeds and interest of the working people could be guaranteed. Unfortunately, the Labour Party has failed to successfully develop in this direction as a clear alternative tothe PDP and the APC.
AMICAR CABRALAND HIS LEGACY TO SOCIAL MOVEMENT
Amicar Cabral was born in Cape Verde Island, Guinea in 1924 and until his assassination in 1973, he was the founding leader of the anti-colonial movement and party namely African Party for Independence for Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). He had his elementary and earlier high school education inCape Verde and later left for Lisbon in the 1940’s and returned in 1950 with a degree in agricultural engineering. He worked briefly for the Portuguese colonial administration of his home country as an agronomist in 1951 to 1956 charged to conduct survey of the land and other natural resources of the country. It was at this period he knew the entire country and had many contacts among the people that cut across ethnic groups. This relationship he maintained to the end. It was at this time that he observed the state of povertyand wretchedness that exist among the people at close range. This further boosted his commitment to liberation struggle later in his life.
On being transferred to Angola in 1956 he co-founded Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) with Augusto Neto (his student’s associate in Lisbon where they both studied and worked together as leading members of the African Students’ Association). On returning to Guinea from Angola in 1956 he decided to leave colonial work and pioneered the formation of African Partyfor Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). The work of the organisation was initially among the urban and commercial workers in the cities but the party changed its strategy with the colonial’s security opening fireon the workers’ demonstration in 1959, the action that led to some workers’ death while some others were wounded. It was for this reason that the party repositioned itself in revising its tactics and strategy. The new direction was towards the rural and peasantry that Cabral believes was the dominant class at the level of productive force, capable of fighting the colonial-capitalist regime as he saw the working class path as weakling. In elaborating on this, he argued that the motive force of history cannot be class struggle but the factor of productive force as this was the situation in Africa. For him to accept anything in the contrary is to justify the assertion that Africa has no past of its own or history.
The aftermath of this development was the institutionalisation of guerrilla typeof organisation and struggle that involved arming the militant cadres sourced from the peasantry. Amicar Cabral is noted for theorising on national liberation. He posited that the purpose of national liberation is in regaining the historical personality of the people through the destruction of the imperialist domination to which it was subjugated. He associated armed struggle with liberating violence in response to the criminal violence of the agents of imperialism. He did not but recognises the importance of deficiency of ideology or lack of it as debilitating factor of the liberation movement in achieving its goal of the rights of nations to self-determination. For reason of embryonic stage of economic development, Amicar Cabral ruled out the impact of the working class in playing the leading The aftermath of this development was the institutionalisation of guerrilla type of organisation and struggle that involved arming the militant cadres sourced from the peasantry. Amicar Cabral is noted for theorising on national liberation. He posited that the purpose of national liberation is in regaining the historical personality of the people through the destruction of the imperialist domination to which it was subjugated. He associated armed struggle with liberating violence in response to the criminal violence of the agents of imperialism. He did not but recognises the importance of deficiency of ideology or lack of it as debilitating factor of the liberation movement in achieving its goal of the rights of nations to self-determination. For reason of embryonic stage of economic development, Amicar Cabral ruled out the impact of the working class in playing the leading role in the struggle, he therefore argued for the vanguard role of the national liberation movement that is composed of the petty bourgeoisie of the educated elite, peasantry that have been at the receiving end of the system of colonialism having had direct contact and thereby assaulted and oppressed. He believes the problem associated with petty bourgeois class could be ameliorated by what Fidel Castro called revolutionary consciousness and Cabral added that the petty-bourgeoisie have to commit class suicide for it play the role of a vanguard of the struggle successfully.
Cabral knowledge of cultural study was readily put into use in discussing his theory of national liberation. His central argument is to enact the “re-Africanisation” of the African elite that have been long beholden to the colonizers ways of life by virtue of their relationship through education and employment. He argued for how such social group could be re-embraced and reintegrated into indigenous African culture into mass popular culture. The essence of this position is how to rally together a nationalist spirit.
Amica Cabral unfortunately met his untimely death in 1973 in the hands of Inncenta Carida, a reportedly agent of the Portuguese colonial Government. The independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde were ultimately attained in 1974 by the invaluable role of the party but the immediate cause could be traced to the left wing military coup in Portugal that declared independence in these two countries as an important pending issue in the colony.
As selfless and patriotic as Amica Cabral is widely discussed, his theoretical formulation which largely influences his politics is petty bourgeois which himself recognised was able to overcome but the same could not be said of his other comrades. His was a case of making revolution from above rather than from below. As weak as the working class was it could not be discounted that the capitalist exploitation still much depend on it and the peasantry. Therefore a revolutionary organisation aimed to put an end to colonialism and capitalism would have been one that comprise the poor, working class and other allies including intellectuals, professionals and other petty-bourgeoisie that have committed class suicide and not otherwise.
The emphasis put on armed struggle composed of the petty-bourgeois individuals in preference to a mass armed working people could only produced a deflated revolution as it has been the case across the world. The experience of the 1959 massacre of workers by the colonial government in the course of demonstration against the government was instructive that the situation called for arms but not to abandon and estrange the movement in preference for a peasantry orientation and mode of struggle. The limitation in Cabral’s cultural study is not to have recognised that culture itself is the ways of life of the dominant group in society that have been made to become the property of the society (or community). Also the contract that he colonialists had with the colonial world must be appreciated to have influenced the society in one way or the other especially in the area of education, commerce and communication.And this is the very reason that culture could not be viewed only in the old way. If this factor was taken into consideration, the argument forgoing back to the source would have rather been how to look forward to the next decades and millennium. Such cultural perspective goes a long way to enhancing the old tribal or ethnic parochial outlook and caused more harm than good in resolving the problem in society. This position as a sharp deviation from Kwame Nkrumah.