The physical ill-health of the present President of Nigeria is compounding the crisis of the regime. But whoever the ruling class replace him with, the anti-worker policies will stay the same. What is required is for the Nigerian Labour Party to break with the bourgeois elements and pose as a completely independent party of the working class.
After the blow to the Nigerian economy by the sharp fall in the price of oil, due to falling demand on a global scale, now that there are signs of recovery in the advanced capitalist economies, the price of oil has been rising for some time, although not reaching anywhere near the peak of over US$140 per barrel. Thus, Nigeria is also set to grow, but all this hides the real underlying weaknesses of the Nigerian economy.
The 3rd National Convention of Labour Party took place in Abuja on Saturday 12th December, 2009. The convention was divided into two sessions. The first session was the presentation of paper on the electoral reform by formal senator, Jonathan Zwingina, Justice Mustapha Akanbi ICPC Chairman, and lastly, a solidarity message by the General Secretary of Nigerian Labour Congress, John Odah. The second session was dedicated to constitutional review, dissolution of National Executive Council and election of new National Executive Council of the Party.
As the financial crisis continues to bite harder, Nigerian ruling class through their executioner; Central Bank of Nigeria keeps transferring the burden on the mass of bank workers. The bank executives who in the first instance, immensely benefited from the cause of this crisis are only barked at and slapped, but the real hangman dagger of the ruling class has been consistently directed against the workers who have always been at the receiving ends both before and during the crisis.
The coup in Honduras and the stepping up of a US military presence in Colombia are serious warnings to the masses of Latin America. On top of this the present world economic crisis is having an impact on the Venezuelan economy. All this is posing very sharply the need for a turn to a genuine revolutionary programme on the part of the Bolivarian movement.
In the last couple of months events in Venezuela and other Latin American countries have enormously sharpened the contradictions between revolution and counter-revolution. First there was the coup in Honduras at the end of June, which acted as a warning for the masses in El Salvador, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela. Then there was the announcement of the plans to upgrade the US military presence in Colombia, which has provoked a severe diplomatic crisis between Venezuela and Colombia and a state of alert among the Bolivarian masses. Most importantly, however, the world economic recession has had profound effects on the situation in Venezuela, where workers are now facing ferocious attacks from the bosses.
The recent commemoration on October 19 2009 of the death of Dele Giwa , the late editor-in-chief/co-founder of Newswatch Magazine, who was killed by a parcel bomb 23 years ago while at the heart of investigating one of the deeds of the then military regime of Ibrahim Babaginda, again brought back to life one of the many uncommon roles played by Gani Fawehinmi in the life of a nation before he was carted away after a protracted struggle with lung cancer on the 4th of September, 2009. The ceremony held at the auditorium of the Lagos Television (LTV8) was organised by a collection of individuals tagged the Friends of Fawehinmi (FoF). Gani was the late journalist’s lawyer and he was in the fore-front of the crusade to unravel who killed Dele Giwa; he had raised accusing fingers toward the direction of Gen Babaginda and those of his military intelligence aides: Cols. Akilu and Togun.
Like a thief in the night, crisis in Nigerian financial sector entered when Nigerian bourgeois think-thanks least expected it. When the crisis first showed its naked faces, it was fiercely denied, being extremely superstitious set of people, the bourgeois economists refused to acknowledge and talked about it. They simply rejected it in Jesus name!
Unfortunately, truth is a stubborn thing; whether you acknowledge it or not, the truth will always catch up with you. Suddenly, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, (Lamido Sanusi) publicly lamented the imminent collapse of the entire Financial Sector, immediately 420 Billion Naira was coughed out within seconds to bail-out five of the threatened banks, not long after, another 220 Billion Naira dolled out for another three banks. Recently, another $2 Billion (Over 300 Billion Naira) was injected to re-inflate the economy. Close to a trillion Naira already dropped, but instead of the situation improving, it is rather deteriorating. All the Bank directors and executives of the affected banks have been severally harassed and legally challenged, all the debtors prosecuted, but is this crisis caused by the misdeed of some individuals as its been advertised or it is a crisis of Capitalism? Is this crisis avoidable under capitalism or it is inevitable outcome of this barbaric, blood sucking, all for profit systems called Capitalism? These are few of the issues look into by this article.
When president Umaru Yaradua assumed office in may 29th 2007, one of his promises to the nation was to improve the electricity generation in the country, he even went as far as saying that he is going to declare a state of emergency in the power sector. But after more than 2years the situation is even worse than before.
The installed generating capacity in Nigeria is about 6000MW, presently the electric energy output for the whole country is less than 1000MW, a quantity that is insufficient for even a state like Lagos. Most generating plants are old; there was no new infrastructure for over a decade now despite rapid population growth and rising demand for power. One wonder how the government wants to actualize its vision 20:20:20 without power.
With a population of over 140million people, how much energy do we really need in Nigeria? To answer this questions, one will need to compare our per capital production of electrical energy with other nation like USA and South Africa. USA is producing almost 570billion KWH and South Africa is producing 200billion as at 2001, if Nigeria were to produce electricity at the USA rate of 12.7bilion KWH per million people, then with a population of 140million people , we should be generating 174,000MW of electricity. Whao! We still have a very long way to go.This situation has caused many factories to close down because of high cost of running generating plant leading to mass lay-off of workers and subsequently increasing the rate of unemployment and insecurity.Many people have equally lost their lives as a result of inhaling the fumes from the generating plant as each household, market etc has now turned to power generating unit to cope with the bad situation.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with a population of 140million people, despite her enormous resources and potential, poverty is widespread throughout the nation. Nigeria is one of the 20 poorest countries of the world, about one million Nigerian children under the age of five died. The infant mortality rate at ten percent of live birth is one of the highest in Africa. Life expectancy at birth is estimated at 43.4years. Nigeria has been in stagnation and relative decline since 1981, from a per capita GDP of US$1,200 in 1981 to about US$300 in 2000. About 70% of the population is leaving below poverty line.
For many Nigerians the quality of life has declined rather than improved since independence almost 50 years ago while the standard of living for a few privileged Nigerians—military officers and their civilian associates, corrupt politicians, and big contractors—has improved substantially. An average worker cannot earn enough to support a family because of inflation and rises in food prices The national minimum wage of N7,500 (about US$53.57) per month, adopted by the federal government falls far short of what is needed to cover housing, food, education, and health care. The material condition of women, who comprise 50 percent of the population and who are doubly oppressed under this present system, is even worst because the welfare of women in general, including education, and workforce, had been neglected over the years. The incidence of prostitution of Nigerian women within and outside the country has therefore increased.
On Thursday, August 13, 2009 was the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) rally in Ibadan. The protest was against the government policy of deregulation of the oil sector, workers demand for 52,200 minimum wage and against various anti-people policies of the government. The rally in Ibadan was the 7th of such rallies which had also held in Kano, Lagos, Makurdi, Enugu, Asaba and Maiduguri.
“Up to the early eighties (of the 20th century), the Nigerian universities were repositories of everything that could be considered excellent in the academia: they had good, qualified and, to a certain extent, have adequate academic staff. The working conditions were also good and motivating enough. In addition, funding was very reasonable. Consequently, many budding academic, whether trained in Nigerian or in the overseas universities, were motivated to look for and take up academic career in Nigeria, regardless of what could have been on offer to them upon the conclusion of their studies. The totality of the Nigerian university system was recognized for this feat and was equally well respected...”(THE BRAIN DRAIN PHENOMENON IN NIGERIA AND THE STRUGGLES BY THE ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES (ASUU) TO REDRESS IT BY NUHU YAQUB)
On May 13 after a Joint Task Force patrol was reportedly attacked by armed groups in Delta State, the JTF began a major offensive The JTF have been conducting land and air strikes on communities across the Warri-south and South-west Local Government Areas where the Nigerian government believes the camps of the armed groups are located. Hundreds of people are feared dead.
On May 15, using helicopters equipped with machine guns, the JTF attacked several communities of the Gbaramatu Kingdom, including Okerenkoko and Oporoza. In Oporoza, around 500 people had gathered for a yearly festival that was being celebrated in several communities of the Gbaramatu Kingdom. Exact casualty figures following the attacks are as yet unknown. According to reports, hundreds of bystanders, including women and children, are believed to have been killed and injured by the JTF, and by the armed groups, while shooting at each other.
Since May 13, 2009, thousands of villagers have been displaced and thousands more are trapped in the cross fire between the Joint Task Force (JTF), which is composed of troops of the Army, Navy, Air force and the mobile police set up in 2004 to restore order in the Niger Delta and armed groups in Delta State, South West Nigeria. The JTF attacks on the communities in the area, including the Okerenkoko and Oporoza communities, are continuing on a daily basis, reportedly because they believe the armed groups are hiding in the communities.
The following statement is the text of public statement to OAU student by Marxist students’ activists in that campus.
“If a man sleeps too much, he would definitely forget his dreams.”
It is delightful to have a break of few weeks after a stressful Harmattan semester. Thus, you are welcome back, the ever-militant Army of courage. Having defied all subtle efforts to subdue our ‘consciousness’ by University administration under Prof. Michael Faborode cum lukewarm attitude of Union executives, there is need to commend the resilience and militancy of entire Great Ife students. Without much ado, there is need to reflect on some major events that happened last semester, because those who forget their past have consciously mortgaged their future.
“The modern laborer,” Marx wrote, “... instead of rising with the process of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper...” This pauperisation have taken place against the backdrop of a colossal looting of public funds, accompanied by a more ruthless expropriation of the fruits of the worker’s labour by government officials and employers – in one word the capitalists.
Once again, we are called to the barricades to take up the fight for a living wage. Once again we must take up our position among the ranks – ready for this fight. Workers have the right to earn a living wage. This time the demand is for a ‘whopping’ #52,200.00 minimum wage. The response of the ruling class is – traditional; the bogey of inflation.
This bogey is reserved solely for the working class – each time a living wage is demanded. “It will cause inflation, stupid!” One could almost hear them say. We will deal with this presently. But first we must point out, as an aside, that they never frighten themselves with this in their enjoyment of various perks of office. Even they go on grabbing for more, never mind the fiction of the recent so-called wage ‘cut’ of public servants. This is just an attempt to throw sand in our eyes. It won’t work; we continue to see clearly and we say that in the face of the current economic crisis, bringing in a decent wage is a necessity. It spells the difference between having food and going hungry.
A sizeable proportion of Nigerian workers receive pay that is nothing but starvation wage. Today, over 75% of them live in conditions of crushing poverty, in conditions not far removed from barbarism. They live in rotten tenements in decaying communities. Hundreds of thousands of working class families lack access to medical services and find it increasingly difficult to send their children to school and workers poverty have reached new heights.
Government officials continue to line their pockets and swell their bank accounts with money that could be used to offer workers a living wage. In the past period, fuelled by rising oil prices, government and big business had made more money than ever before. But not a single dime found its way into the pockets of the poor toiling masses.
RICH GETTING RICHER
Late last year, during the fund-raising drive for the construction of a new secretariat complex in Abuja of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) the ruling class achieved further heights of insensitivity: over #6bn donated – for a building! The list of donors include:
• Femi Otedola - #1 billion
• Aliko Dangote - Cement worth #3 billion
• Princess Bola Shagaya - #25m
• Chief Michael Otedola - #25m
• Strabag Construction - #100m
• President Umaru Yar’Adua - #527,205 (Representing 15% of basic salary)
• VP Goodluck Jonathan - #454,735 (Representing 15% of basic salary)
(THISDAY Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008)
“Don’t you wonder,” asks Marx in Howard Zinn’s play, Marx In Soho, “why is it necessary to declare me dead again and again?” Twenty years ago, at the fall of the Berlin Wall, the capitalists and their spokespersons felt triumphant. Not content with proclaiming the end of Communism, the end of Socialism, they also proclaimed the end of history. “in the argument, between capitalism and Marxism,” wrote Reuben Abati, “ it is the free market intellectuals that have won the battle.”
And now in their search for a way out of the economic wreckage of their system, the capitalists and their ‘intellectual’ hangers-on are ‘resurrecting’ Marx. “… Hovering out there in the fog, unavoidably, is the towering specter of Karl Marx, the grandfather of political economists, whose damning critique of capitalism’s inadequacies played an outsized role in world history for a century after his death in 1883,” writes TIME’s Peter Gumbel. It is this article, Rethinking Marx that furnishes the platform for an ongoing debate.
As a rule, people do not like change, particularly sharp and sudden change that upsets their preconceived notions and beliefs. This persistence of belief is quite evident in the article A Crisis Marx Could Not Have Foretold by Ijeoma Nwogwugwu. After a long period of relative prosperity in which “unbridled capitalism and market forces, deregulation, liberalization and privatization” gave the writer “access to relatively fast and reliable internet service” where she was able to search for previous TIME magazine cover stories on Karl Marx, it is no wonder that the natural reaction to the current economic crisis is one of shock and disbelief.
For Better welfare package
The Medical Guild, the umbrella body for all medical doctors employed by the Lagos State Government, met at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) on Monday, 20th of April 2009 and signified its intention to resume another round of strike action to pursue its demand at the expiration of a ten-day ultimatum to the Lagos State Government.
Better welfare package; Against victimisation
These demands are: better welfare package with the immediate implementation of an improved salary structure based on the CONTISS Salary Scale, which has already been implemented by the Federal Government and a number of states in the federation since January 2007. CONTISS is expected to enhance the salaries by almost 50% across the board for all health workers. The demands of the Medical Guild also include better working environment in the hospitals, particularly with regard to having conducive consulting rooms, clinics, operating theaters etc as against the present unpalatable situation of doctors “taking call-duties in filthy, unhygienic, ramshackle rooms and hospitals still largely being run in darkness, clinics run in hot rooms with equipment in various states of dilapidation”.
Other major demands are the immediate reinstatement of the Medical Guild Chairman, Dr Ibrahim Olaifa, who was recently dismissed from service because of his union activities, especially for addressing press conferences on the doctors’ agitation and immediate stoppage of all forms of harassment and victimization of the Guild officials/activists.
The Guild is to meet immediately at the same venue after the expiration of the ultimatum to determine the mode of operation of the next round of agitations.
It will be recalled that the leadership of the Medical Guild prompted the congress to suspend the last round of strike action on the 7th of January 2009 even when the Lagos State Government was yet to meet any of the outlined demands of the strike on the understanding that the demands will be met within three months of suspending the strike action.
This article is a Marxist intervention in the ongoing debate on whether Naira can really be saved. There have been two main trends arguing out this debate and both are clearly wrong. While one trend advocates the conversion of earned Dollars first by Central Bank to Naira before distributing it to Beneficiary, the other trend wants Central Bank not to convert the Dollar, but to issue a Dollar Certificate to the beneficiaries and the beneficiaries can now go later in the future to convert their certificate to Naira. None of these participants is right because their point of view is restricted within the confinement of Capitalism and therefore instead of seeing a real Naira, they keep analyzing a fetish Naira. We hold it a duty to Nigerian Working class, the explanation from firm Marxist point of view, at least to clear off the confusion that these Bourgeois intellectuals have been selling all these while.
In the previous edition of Worker’s Alternative, we raised it that it is not possible for Comrade Governor Oshiomhole to make any meaningful development that can fundamentally touch the live of ordinary people of Edo state while limiting himself to Edo State This was what we wrote in Workers Alternative December 2008.
“As soon as Adams Oshiomhole was declared the rightful occupant of the State Governor's seat in Edo State he started making a series of announcements on job creation, the payment of back-wages to workers who have not seen payments for months, public spending, etc., which have raised even further the hopes of the Nigerian masses, not just in the State but right across Nigeria. How he is going to find the finance to back these proposals is another matter. He is after all only a local governor and depends on central government for funding. (The abyss facing Nigeria in the face of the growing world crisis of capitalism December 2008)”
Happenings in Edo state after the Last 5months of his swearing-in has really confirmed the correctness of our positions. The question to be asked is: what has the comrade Governor achieved so far?, What are the outstanding to be achieved?, Why the present method he is using cannot solve the problem and finally what is the way forward for ordinary people of Edo State. To answer all the questions, one need to look critically on the questions raised one after the other.
Fuel Price Table
Iran & Iraq N4.50
South Africa N23.20
It has been said that it is a form of mental degenerate disorder to keep on doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time. This is the case with the Nigerian Capitalist class who have over the past 23 years have followed loyally the anti-people dictates of their imperialist masters.
The results of the impositions of all these anti-people (mis)policies have been devastating on the masses. It is been misery without end – poverty, disease, unemployment, homelessness, etc. There has been no time in history where thing have been these terrible for the masses. Yet the Nigerian ruling elites, bourgeois, through its Government keep on talking about continuing with more attacks on the masses.
What is most mentally irritating is the fact that they use the same old arguments. This shows the extent of degeneration of the Nigerian ruling elites and a further confirmation that this class of people must be overthrown by the working masses. If the Nigerian ruling class is not overthrown they would destroy this society.
Again we are back at the ‘good old days’ where fuel scarcity reins and we are gradually losing count of the number of times fuel prices have been increased. Prices of kerosene diesel, aviation fuel, etc have been deregulated.
In February, the Yar’Adua regime reduced the price of petrol to N65.00 and declared that the downstream of the oil sector is deregulated in March. We said then that it was a trick to prepare the ground for a major assault on the masses. The leadership of the oil workers NUPENG and PENGASSAN also declared that it was deregulation via the back door.
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