The first victims of the on going privatization of electricity in Nigeria are the ordinary consuming masses who have found their electricity bills go up multiple folds. Today, scores are incurring huge electricity bills as PHCN tariffs have continued to go up and leaving huge dent in the pockets of toiling masses.
Increment in tariffs and outright deregulation are part of the consequences of move towards the privatization of PHCN. The argument of the government is that price increment and total deregulation of electricity tariff would attract the “foreign investors”.
Sometimes decades pass and not much happens. At other times more events take place in days than those that occurred in decades. After the collapse of the Soviet Union twenty years ago we were relentlessly told the great political and economic questions had all been settled and that liberal democracy and free-market capitalism had triumphed. Socialism had been consigned to the dustbin of history. The strategists of capital were exultant. The “end of history” was proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama.
No doubt, Fashola government in Lagos state means different things to different people. To the elite, who wish to drive his car without hindrance through a well-flowered road, a road that is devoid of poor children hawking the streets, with beggars completely packed off the visible arena of passage; to him, Fashola is a hero. It is a different case to a poor woman who had lived all her life selling in one corner of the road, a condition forced down her throat by immense poverty, with her children hawking all over Lagos at the risk of being arrested by the police or even be crushed by moving vehicles. These children suppose to be in school, but public education has completely collapsed and becoming increasingly expensive. When she is ill she has to go to native doctor because public health is dead; a small apartment she stays will either soon be pulled down or is already demolished in the interest of Mega city project; to her, Lagos has never been so hellish as it is now. Of the estimated 18 million Lagosians, 11.55 million (64.2%) are living below poverty level; the question is, under genuine democracy who really own Lagos?
To say that the situation in Nigeria is getting more rotten by the day is an understatement. The country has become notorious as far as the world’s negatives are concerned. Many are barely managing to survive on a dollar a day, unemployment is massive, wages are very low, scores are rendered homeless daily, flood is ravaging everywhere, artificial fuel scarcity and arbitrary price increments are the order of the day. Healthcare has collapsed the same as power supply, which remains highly unstable.
The government seems to have ‘Midas touch’: anything they touch turns to shit! Daily, the airwaves are dominated by reports of insane IMF/World Bank inspired government policies, which only results in more pains for the masses.
The suffering of the people of Pakistan is largely unknown in the West. A veil of silence has been carefully drawn over the number of people killed every day by American drones and Taliban murders. But recently a small corner of the curtain was raised as the result of a particularly appalling event.
Yesterday Malala Yousafzai was brutally shot by gunmen as she was returning home from school. Masked assassins stepped onto a bus filled with terrified children, identified her, and shot her at point blank range in the head and neck.
Who are these men who wage war on defenceless schoolgirls? We know who they are because they have already admitted their guilt. The cowardly murderers who perpetrated this vile deed feel no need to hide away from public opinion. They feel no shame, for they are utterly shameless. The Pakistan Taliban has claimed responsibility for this act of bloodthirsty savagery.
A cheap, crude, anti-Islamic film entitled The Innocence of Muslims, produced and promoted by reactionary Christian fundamentalists in the United States and posted on the internet in July, has led to demonstrations in many countries around the world, including attacks on US embassies and in the case of Libya to the killing of four US diplomats at the US Consulate in Benghazi. We look into why all this is happening.
According to reports, the film originally had the title Desert Warriors and was not about Muhammad at all. Actors who had taken part in the film have claimed they were unaware of the fact that the film was about Muhammad, and that the storyline which transformed the film into the format in which it eventually appeared on the internet was the result of dubbing. The scripting was deliberately designed to be insulting to Muslims.
On Monday, September 3, most of the miners arrested during the Marikana massacre were released after an outcry of protest forced the state prosecutor to withdraw charges of murder against them. The strike at Lonmin continues as well as strikes and protests at other mines. The incident has clearly revealed the real content of the struggle between left and right in the run up to the ANC Manguang Conference.
It is revealing that the 270 miners and others arrested during the Marikana massacre were charged with murder of their 34 comrades who had been killed by the police. It says a lot about how little has really changed despite the 1994 transition from apartheid to formal capitalist democracy. The “common purpose” doctrine which was used to charge them was widely used by the apartheid regime to send MK and ANC fighters to the gaols, without having to go into the trouble to actually find any proof of their guilt. The doctrine states that people involved in a common activity are equally responsible for any damage that results from it, even if they have not physically committed it.
The idea that an independent Scotland on a capitalist basis would solve the problems of the Scottish people is false to the core. On the contrary, it would result in falling living standards as wages were driven down to boost competitiveness.
Scottish National Party
Despite the SNP’s traditional claim of “rich Scots versus Poor Brits” and an economic future based on “Scotland’s oil”, North Sea oil is due to fall from 0.7% of UK national income in 2011-12 to only 0.2% by 2022-23. The banking sector, which plays a big role in the economy, is in difficulties and propped up by the British state.
The recent quarrel over the timing and constitutional validity of the proposed independence referendum in Scotland has again pushed the national question to the forefront of British politics. Such developments give us a fresh opportunity to revisit this important issue.
Lenin in his book State and Revolution warned that the national question in Britain, which appeared resolved long ago, could raise its head under certain circumstances. This amazing prediction came true with the world crisis of 1974 and the deepening crisis of British capitalism. The re-emergence of nationalism in Scotland and Wales that Lenin had anticipated, was reflected in the growth of support for Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party throughout the 1970s and 1980s and up to the present.
It is a dialectical contradiction that the national question could arise when the historical justification for nation states has come to an end with the decline of capitalism itself. The creation of nation states was one of the historical achievements of capitalism in the period of its ascent, especially between 1789 and 1848. That the crisis of capitalism has led to a revival of latent nationalism is a reflection of the fact that this is the epoch of decline.
Hundred years ago, on 19 August 1912 to be precise, the first trade union organization was born in Nigeria. Though, it was initially called Southern Civil Service Union, it had about 500 memberships, which spread from South to North. It was later renamed Nigerian Civil Service Union after the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates. It was organized and headed by Henry Liebert who was a Sierra Leonean immigrant living then in Nigeria.
While attention is still on the draconian traffic laws recently imposed by the ACN government in Lagos, another major attack on the working masses of Lagos is already in progress. The Lagos state government had perfected plans to increase the taxes of the overtaxed workers of Lagos. The current payslip for July already reflects this crude reality. The State had increased the taxes payable by Lagos state workers without any form of prior discussion with the state NLC and the various public sector workers unions including the Nigerian Medical Association.
As usual, there is a news blackout by the mainstream media about this attack. The information got out when the governor summoned the State NLC and the public sector union leaderships to a meeting last week Thursday, 9/08/12, to inform them of the coup on workers' wages. Fasola claimed that due to the heavy debt profile of Lagos state, the government had increased the taxes of workers, in essence cut down wages, in order to pay the fictitious debt the ACN regime has incurred over the years.
The situation in Pakistan is almost identical to that of Nigeria. The scientific explanation of the Pakistani society as put forward by Lai Khan also applies to Nigeria and the underdeveloped economies of the world.
For quite some time now several so called secular parties, especially the MQM, have been campaigning around the idea that feudalism is the real cause of the country’s plight and its abolishment is the only solution to Pakistan’s tribulations. Their endeavour is in fact mainly to defend the petty bourgeois businesses and the Mafia capitalism on which they rely for their social and economic basis.
This cliché has been in vogue for decades. The ex-lefts and the liberal intelligentsia have been analysing Pakistan as a feudal society and defining the solution in the accomplishment of the national democratic or the bourgeois revolution for the development of the country.
From the Presidency, to Finance Minister Okonjo Iweala, up to the least in hierarchy of this regime, there has been ongoing murmuring about the economic tsunami that is fast approaching. Nigerians seem not to be too bothered about this inaudible cry of the regime; it has been a case of Government just crying to itself. This apathy of the people might prove catastrophic when this economic disaster eventually hits, because it is not a mere rumour mongering of the regime, incoming economic disaster is real and it demands that we adequately prepare.
Editorial Statement, Workers’ Alternative, Nigeria
The landslide victory of Comrade Adams Oshiomole [the former leader of the Nigerian Labour Congress] in the Edo State Governorship election on Saturday, 14th July 2012 marks a major watershed in the history of politics in Nigeria.
This was not only because it was contested by Adams, winner for two consecutive years of the man-of-the-year award during the long drawn out battle of the Nigerian workers against the Obasanjo administration’s series of attacks on the Nigerian masses; not only because it was a landslide victory in which Oshiomhole received over 75%(477,478 of 630,067) of the votes to beat the ruling conservative party PDP that got only 22.8%(144,235), despite a massive deployment of all their strength and wealth; but also because it exposed the uselessness and ineffectiveness of political “Godfatherism” [meaning that political God fathers is all you need to win elections] once the masses are involved in the equation.
The Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohammed Mursi has won Egypt's presidential election with 51.73% of the vote. Ahmed Shafiq, the candidate of the military, got 48.27%, according to the election commission. However these figures should be treated with caution.
The turnout was officially claimed to be 51.8%. However, many eyewitnesses say that the real level of participation was far lower than this. Even if we accept the official estimate, it would mean that the Muslim Brotherhood only won the support of about 25% of the electorate. Moreover, an unknown number of these votes may have come from left-wing people who voted for the Muslim Brotherhood as “the lesser evil”.
Huge cheers went up from thousands gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square after the result was known. But the cheering will not last for long, for these elections revealed deep fault lines in Egyptian society.
The Egyptian revolution has taken a new turn in the last few days. The ruling Military Council (SCAF) has launched a number of very serious attacks on the revolution. The military police can now arrest civilians at will and parliament has been dissolved. The generals have also announced additions to the Constitutional Declaration of March 2011 which give them virtually unlimited powers. What was supposed to have been the first democratic presidential elections in the history of the country has ended in a farce and a power struggle between two rival factions of the Egyptian bourgeoisie: The Muslim Brotherhood and the Armed Forces.
British doctors have gone on strike today for the first time since 1975 over the government cuts to pensions. Unsurprisingly, this has been met with a chorus of indignation by the Tories who have accused the doctors of “penalising patients” by taking industrial action.
8 in 10 doctors voting in the ballot of BMA (British Medical Association – the doctors’ trade union) members chose industrial action. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of the strike has been partial, despite the overwhelming yes vote to strike action.
It appears that the nation has not yet seen the end of victimizations and maltreatment of workers by the Dangote Group. A May 1 2012 online edition of the Workers Alternative gave an account of the gross injustice going on at the Pasta subsidiary at Ikorodu. In this current report, the workers bearing the brunt of the now familiar Dangote’s sword of Damocles are the Apapa cement workers.
The situation is moving at lightning speed on a world scale. After the Arab Revolution, events followed in quick succession: the movement of the indignados in Spain; the wave of strikes and demonstrations in Greece; the riots in Britain; the movement in Wisconsin and the Occupy movement in the U.S.; the overthrow of Gaddafi; the fall of Papandreou and Berlusconi; all these are symptoms of the present epoch. (See Perspectives for world capitalism 2012 (Draft discussion document) – Part One); and, if we may add, there was the magnificent movement of millions of Nigerian masses in January of this year.
These sudden sharp turns indicate that something fundamental have changed in the entire situation. Events are beginning to impinge upon the consciousness of ever-broader layers of the population. The ruling class is increasingly divided and disoriented by the depth of a crisis they never expected and have no idea how to solve. Suddenly, they find themselves unable to maintain control of society by the old methods. This description succinctly captures the current Nigerian situation.
Since the Gov Fasola-ACN administration in Lagos dismissed 788 doctors fighting for their rights on Monday 7/5/12, there has been a massive condemnation of the regime. The doctors were merely demanding that the State obey the agreement is signed with them last year.
This premeditated and insane action further exposed the true face Fasola and the ACN to many more people. Many are still in shock and pain because of the reckless actions of the Lagos State government.
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