IMPUNITY REIGNS IN NIGERIA
“RULE OF LAW” IS FOR THE ELITES’ DOMINATION OF THE POOR, AND WORKING PEOPLE
Action, as an old saying goes, speaks much louder than words. Despite the verbal commitment of the federal and states governments in Nigeria to the rule of law, impunity remains the order of the day.
This utter disregard for the laws they formulate and are expected to enforce impartially is not limited to any singular party. Nor is it limited to only the bosses in government. It is characteristic of the very system of degenerate elite rule that we are made to suffer.
The November 20 lock out of Mr. Tambuwal, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and other members of the House, is a classical example of the reign of impunity in Nigeria. The representatives had been summoned to deliberate on President Jonathan’s ignominious request for an extension of the state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
The closure of the gate and use of teargas on the lawmakers is obviously not unconnected with the recent decamping of Mr Tambuwal from the PDP to the APC. While this is condemnable, the celebration of lawmakers as patriots for scaling the gate is as well questionable.
There were no noble intentions behind this action. What the, mainly APC legislators were after was to frustrate the reported move to have the Speaker impeached by the PDP lawmakers who were already inside the so-caled “hallowed chambers”.
Several Nigerians, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka have recently condemned this crass demonstration of impunity. Chief Obasanjo obviously believes we have forgotten the brazen manner in which he leveled down communities like Odi and Zaki Biam, during his own presidency.
We should also not forget that impunity is demonstrated everyday by the bosses against the working class. Collective Bargaining Agreements are disregarded with utter contempt, leading to strikes in like the long drawn ones of ASUU, COEASU and ASUP in the education sector, and like the ongoing strike of JOHESU in the health sector. Rather than confront the state, the unions are often pleaded with to call off their strikes.
In the states, governments also take unilateral actions against working people. The cut in wages of Benue state public sector workers and the destruction of the houses of 1,500 persons in Badagry by the Lagos state government are just a few examples. In the Local Government Areas, petty traders face numerous arbitrary taxes and have their goods impounded for no just cause.
It is however not enough for us to identify the various expressions of impunity. We need to understand why this is a constant feature in our polity and how to stop it. A major reason is the level of decadence of the bosses and their governance, no doubt. But this only partly explains things.
The fact of the matter is that oppressive social systems, like capitalism, cannot but wield the club of impunity. While the expansion of democratic rights might open spaces for the enforcement of human rights, impunity, particularly against workers, minorities and those who have historically borne the brunt of domination are actually defended by the very structures and processes of “rule of law”.
The recent spate of acquittals of white police officers that have killed defenseless young black men in the United States like Michael Brow and Eric Garner, confirms this. The poor, workers, and all oppressed people thus have to fight for the overthrow of capitalism in Nigeria and globally, to bring an end to the bosses’ reign of impunity.
We are more than them, and united and determined, we cannot be defeated. End impunity now: OVERTHROW CAPITALISM!
Africa Industrialisation Day
Workers all over Nigeria joined their counterparts across Africa to mark the 2014 Africa Industrialization Day on November 19. In Abuja, a Roundtable meeting with the Theme: Inclusive and sustainable Industrial Development: Africa Agro Industry for food security was organized by affiliates of the Industriall Global Union Federation, NLC, TUC and FIWON. The following day a rally was held with workers from both the formal sector and informal economy turning out in their hundreds.
The Roundtable discussants and participants all noted the strategic relevance of efficient electricity supply for sustainable development. The privatization of PHCN was condemned, as being counterproductive to the goal of reliable and affordable electricity supply to both industries and households.
Nigeria currently generates just 4000 Megawatts, one year after the privatization of electricity generation and distribution that the state claimed would lead to a boost in electricity supply. But, an estimated 25,000 megawatts is needed to sustain an industrial economy in the country. This figure (4000 megawatts) is less than 30 watts per capita compared to 2000 watts per capita in developed economies.
This leaves a huge gap between demand for electricity and its supply. Over 60 % of the population is completely excluded from electricity supply. This huge gap will continue to widen with increasing demand for electricity that is estimated to double by 2025 if tangible measures are not taken now to correct the malaise.
The Roundtable noted that there are multiple and intertwined issues around transparency of the privatization process, declining power supply and failure to invest massively in the area of generation, transmission and distribution by the new electricity companies and the government. It further observed that the dismal performance profile of previously privatized public enterprises in Nigeria confirms the fact that there is no solution in privatization.
The privatization of NITEL and Ajaokuta Steel Mills for example have only led to assets stripping and even outright plant closures, while the bosses smile to the bank. The profit motive that drives capitalism in general is meant to further the exploitation of the working masses. In backward economies like Nigeria’s the bosses care less for efficiency in doing this, pursuing “primitive accumulation” rooted in corruption, in perpetuity. The Roundtable, therefore, resolved that electricity generation is strategically important for development that and should not be surrendered to the profit-making logic of the market.
Participants called for enabling laws to provide for community ownership and state ownership in critical areas of rural and urban needs. This is to help address the problem of prohibitive cost of electricity supply in rural, peri-urban and poor urban neighborhoods. Government should also strengthen the existing weak capacity of the electricity power generation by transparent and meticulous investment in power generation, transmission and distribution instead of divestments and privatizations.
As Nigerian workers mark the 2014 ‘Africa Industrialization Day’ in Abuja, SWL calls on the working people to continue demanding for responsibility and accountability from the federal government toward promoting industrialization by developing the power sector which is the engine room for any meaningful industrialization. The neglect of the power sector has caused collapse in the industrial sector and has resulted in loss of livelihoods of many Nigerians as many companies have folded up or relocated out of Nigeria.
The manufacturing sector which is supposed to be the growth driver of the economy barely contributes 6.7 percent to the GDP despite the new nominal rebasing.Unemployment rates soar; poverty took its seat among the working people whose toil and sweat create the wealth on which the bosses feed fat, while corruption supervises the governance process to the detriment of the Nigerian working people.
No method could better stop this madness than the unity of workers within and across borders. It is with solidarity that we will ensure the development of society is run by and for the poor working people who create the wealth.
Copies of Abuja Workers Bulletin and Socialist Worker were sold by SWL members during the roundtable and rally.
OAU students stone Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan was booed and stoned by students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, at the end of November. The university was venue of a meeting between Mr. Jonathan and come to meet with some chiefs and politicians who endorsed his re-election bid on the aegis of one shadowy “Committee on Yoruba Progress”.
All arrangements made by the school authorities to shield the president and his cohorts, failed. The students broke through the cordon and disgraced him well enough before he took off on a helicopter. The students’ demonstration is an expression of the mass discontent with Jonathan and his anti-poor people policies.
But, while the majority of students and radical organizations on campus like the Socialist Youth League confronted “GEJ”, a few (because of what they will “chop”) took to snapping pictures with him. Worse still, they launched an attack during the Education Rights Campaign meeting a few days later, leaving some students wounded.
This is an example of how the state projects impunity within campuses and shows that even during civilian regimes, the ruling class does not shy away from using fascist tactics to try containing students’ activism. In 1991, attacks on student activists by a management-supported rightwing student resulted in his being lynched and the student leaders then charged for murder. In several other campuses like UNN, Unilag, Uniport & Unilorin, attacks on student activists have been tacitly condoned by management and government.
Socialist Workers League Abuja branch calls for the misguided attackers to be brought to book, immediately. And quite importantly, Great Ife students must never relent in the struggle against the bosses.
In the long run, we must do more than booing and stoning Jonathan. We must throw the capitalist system he represents into the dustbin of history.