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.
On January 29 and again on March 19, mass demonstrations involving more than 2.5 million people took place in France. Against a background of economic recession and sharply rising unemployment, the organisations of the working class are once again on the move on a massive scale. The capitalist parties have been in power since 2002. In 2007, Sarkozy and the right wing won the elections as a result of the absence of a serious policy on the part of the left. In a blatantly demagogic campaign, with the full backing of the media, Sarkozy promised to ensure economic growth and a return to full employment. He promised to defend the poor and the unemployed, to act against “rogue employers”, to reduce social inequality and injustice.
The capitalist system may well be suffering the worst crisis in its history. According to George Soros, billionaire investor and frank analyst of the system he defends, the world financial system has in effect disintegrated and there is no possibility of a near-term resolution to the crisis. He believes that the turbulence is in fact worse than during the Great Depression and that the current crisis is equivalent to the collapse of the Soviet Union. As he recently told an audience at Columbia University: “[Capitalism] was placed on life support, and it’s still on life support. There’s no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom.”
The Nigerian teachers under the aegis of the NUT have been on strike to back up their demands for a Teachers' Salary Scale (TSS), a demand that has been raised for about 20 years. This same demand was agreed to by the government in 2003, but up till now has never been signed. One significant aspect of this strike is the overwhelming support it is presently enjoying from the public. Almost all bourgeois newspapers put the public support at a huge 88% of the population. This is a magnificent response and a major source of inspiration for the teachers.
Suffice it to say, this present strike has thrown up a lot of troubling questions. If the demand has been raised for 20 years ago, why is the NUT saying enough is enough now? What is responsible for this marvellous public support and can it be sustained? What must the NUT do to win this battle once and for all? These are the questions to be tackled by this write-up and most importantly to solidarise with the father of all professions.
The General Meeting of the Medical Guild, the umbrella body of all doctors employed by the Lagos state government, was held on Wednesday, December 31, 2009 with a resolve by the overwhelming majority - more than 90% present and voting - to embark on an indefinite strike action as of January 5, 2009. This is with the aim to press home the demands for an improved salary package 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.
It is not a new thing in Nigeria, that when a new administration is sworn into office, they always come up with some "new" policy or other. The experience of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) introduced by the Babangida regime is still fresh in our memory. The Obasanjo regime came up with the "Fight Against Corruption" crusade, and to achieve this they set up the EFCC and ICPC. How far have they gone with this crusade is left to the Nigerian people to decide. On August 1st 2007, the present (Yar'Adua) regime came up with its own policy, named the "Seven Point Agenda", which we look into below.
According to the government the following are the seven goals it has given itself:
Power and energy - To develop an adequate power supply so as to ensure Nigeria's ability to develop as a modern economy by the year 2015.
Food security - The emphasis is on the development of modern technology, research, financial injection into research, production and development of agricultural inputs leading to a 5 to 10-fold increase in yields and production. This is supposed to result in massive domestic and commercial output and technological knowledge transfer to farmers.
Yar' Adua, President of Nigeria (Photo by Andy Mettler on swiss-image.ch)
agricultural and solid mineral sector. This requires Nigerians to "choose" to work, as hard work by all is required to achieve this reform.
Organized labour in Nigeria has presented a demand for a N52,000 minimum wage to the government. This has obviously generated a lot of heat from all quarters. The bourgeois intellectuals have come in their multitude to explain to and confuse the public that this demand is not only unrealistic, but that it is also highly detrimental to the proper functioning of the fragile Nigerian economy. It would lead to inflation and worsen the unemployment figures, so they claim. It is imperative that we highlight their claims and puncture their unintelligent analysis. This article is aimed at doing justice to this.
Is the demand justified?
December 12th, 2008 is a day the residents of Sagamu in Ogun State will not forget in a hurry. This was a day in which one of their own, a woman, was shot dead by the police and then branded as leader of a gang of robbers.
The woman, Funmilayo Abudu, a mother of four, was until her death an innocent worker, going about her daily chores in the pursuit of ‘daily bread’ and a better life for herself and her family
The woman did not deserve to die, and definitely not under the circumstances in which she was killed. The fact that the policemen concerned did not show any remorse for a life “mistakenly” cut short by them, and instead went on to dress her corpse up as a leader of a gang of robbers blows the mind.
"The Lagos State university students' union in conjunction with the NANS zone D and NANS JCC Lagos Axis berate the satanic increment in LASU school fees and the killing of some students of LASU during the peaceful protest against the increment in school fees. And call for the immediate reversal of these exploitative fees as a prerequisite to let the less privilege have access to Education".
These was the first paragraph in the leaflet issued by the students' union alongside with NANS zone D and JCC Lagos in February after the students' protest against the fees, which led to the killing of two students by the police on the command of the Lagos State Government.
Monday, 10 July 2006
Since we issued the June 26, 2006 editorial statement, the strike of the workers continues and the management of Nigerchin is desperately ruthless. They are working day and night using the dirtiest tricks in the book towards undermining the workers and getting rid of all them.
On June 27, they issued a memo saying that they had closed down the factory; that workers should come and collect the pay-offs. In addition, they say that workers interested in working for Nigerchin should reapply!
This is in spite of the fact that they were to meet with the representative of the NLC that week. However, they arrogantly declined to meet with the NLC or the NUSDE representatives. They then fixed the meeting with the NLC for Wednesday July 5.
Thursday, 15 March 2007
Undoubtedly, one of the interesting developments in the ongoing transition programme towards the April 2007 general election in Nigeria is the entrance of the Labour Party into the Nigerian electoral scene, after its previous aloofness in the last general election in 2003. This should be particularly interesting to the numerous supporters of the Workers' Alternative, since the paper has been a forerunner in the campaign for a mass-based Labour Party, with a socialist programme, resting on the Trade Unions, since the first issue of the paper in 1998.
Much as this entrance into the electoral plane by the Labour Party might sound interesting, it is however far from being the desired genuine mass-based political platform of the working class and the poor masses in Nigeria. The Party as presently constituted has a deformed characterization in its membership and leadership-cum-class appeal.
To make things worse, the initial euphoria generated among the working masses when Adam Oshiomhole, former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, declared for the governorship seat in Edo State on the platform of the Labour Party soon died down when he decamped from the Party to the Abubakar Atiku-led Action Congress (AC) as its Governorship candidate in Edo State. Although, it need be noted that the response would have been more thunderous across the country if it has been a declaration for the presidency on the platform of the Labour Party.
The Labour Party in history
Thursday, 15 March 2007
Rosemary Olagoke was the Unit Secretary of the in-house workers' union - National Union of Chemical, Foot, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Product Employees (NUFLANMPE) at Ranbaxy Nigeria Limited, whose job as a production assistant was terminated on June 16th, 2006 for no just cause. The management gave no reason for its action.
Notwithstanding this silence from the management of Ranbaxy as to the reason behind the termination of her appointment, it is a well known fact Rosemary is being victimised for her uncompromising attitude in the cause of using her position as union secretary to defend the basic rights of her fellow workers. Right from four years ago, specifically September 2002, when she was elected along with other members of the unit executive, she has served as a rallying point and a very vocal/focused mouthpiece for the workers at Ranbaxy.
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Nigeria has never had it so good, at least that is what the economic strategists of this regime say. Nigeria economy has been growing at an impressive rate of 6.5% since 2003 as against 2.8% in the 1990s, (how reliable this figure is, is another question) the inflation rate has dropped from 26% to 9% (December 2006), and the Naira has now appreciated against international currencies. Foreign reserves have grown from $4 billion in 1999 to $43.5 billion as at December 2006, even after paying $14 billion to the Paris and London club. This regime has also celebrated a huge debt relief of $33 billion from Paris and London club.
According to their figures - and only their figures using their own formulae - the unemployment rate has declined from 18% in the 1990s to 5.3% in 2006. Even more laughable is the figure on the percentage of the population living below the poverty line, which according to them moved down from 70% in the 1990s to 54% in 2004, while the figure for 2005-2006 has to be kept from the public for "strategic reasons".
Capital inflow has been doubling every two years and stood at about $4 billion in 2006. Suffice it to say, that the budget has always been based on the price of oil at $40 since 2003, whereas the price in the market has been between $67-$71 for the larger part of the period in consideration, and this fact the Nigerian ruling class always leaves out of its analysis.
The reality of the Nigerian situation
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