THE Joint Action Front (JAF) has called on Nigerian workers, including women and youth to gird their loins for serious mass struggle to resist attacks against the poor through anti-poor policies that will be unleashed after the general elections.
JAF, in a Statement by its Secretary, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, stated that it is clear from the pronouncements of the contending presidential candidates of the major political parties that neoliberal policies will be intensified, leaving Nigerians “with no credible choice among the leading capitalist candidates.”
In the statement entitled; “Nigeria on the Brink: For System Change Now!”, Comrade Aremu called on workers, women, youth and the poor masses in general not to “place their trust in any capitalist politician but instead…gird their loins to commence preparations for serious mass struggle to resist attacks and anti-poor policies that from all indications will be intensified after the election, and for System Change, as the only way to guarantee a future for Nigeria.”
Declaring that it has recommitted itself to the defence of the class interest of Nigerian workers and the entire working class in general, JAF stressed that unless the Nigerian working class is ready “to fight back to take Nigeria from the control of the looters, the condition of the working people, poor masses, the women, youth will go from bad to worse under whichever of the leading looters’ presidential candidates that [will] emerge from the coming elections.”
The statement reads in full:
NIGERIA ON THE BRINK: FOR SYSTEM CHANGE NOW!
- JAF RENEWS COMMITMENT TO DEFEND THE CLASS INTEREST OF NIGERIAN WORKERS, YOUTH AND POOR MASSES!
(1) As preparations are in top gear for the 2023 general elections, the Joint Action Front (JAF) considers it imperative to warn the Nigerian workers, youth and the poor masses of the impending danger the 2023 general elections constitute, regardless of who wins the presidential election from the main capitalist parties.
Given the subscription to the same successive neoliberal attacks and policies that manifested in slave wages, frustration of genuine strikes by workers, non-implementation of collective agreements with workers, unbridled looting of the national wealth, state violence against dissenting, voices, increasingly high cost of living, devaluation of the naira, manipulation of the electoral process to the exclusive preserve of looters who are the same bands that have ruined the country, Nigerians are [left] with no credible choice among the leading capitalist candidates.
Therefore, JAF Declares that the Nigerian workers, the women, the youth and the poor masses cannot and should not place their trust in any capitalist politician but instead should gird their loins to commence preparations for serious mass struggle to resist attacks and anti-poor policies that from all indications will be intensified after the election, and for System Change, as the only way to guarantee a future for Nigeria.
(2) We recalled that we stated it on the eve of the 2015 General Elections that irrespective of the political party that emerged in the 2015 elections, so long as the economy is sustained on the neoliberal capitalist policies of privatisation, looting of public wealth, etc, “Nigerians will continue to suffer, suffer for world.” as Fela ANIKULAPO sang it!
(3) JAF wishes to DECLARE without any equivocation that unless the working masses, the poor masses, women and the youth are ready to fight back to take Nigeria from the control of the looters, the condition of the working people, poor masses, the women, youth will go from bad to worse under whichever of the leading looters’ presidential candidates that emerge from the coming elections. This is because going by the pro-capitalist and anti-poor character of the leading political parties and candidates and their arrogant pronouncements to IMPOSE on us their neo-liberal policies and looting GREED, we need no soothsayer neither do we need to consult any crystal ball before realizing that the forthcoming election will not lead to any fundamental change or will it be beneficial to the already impoverished working masses and youth.
(4) THE APC-BUHARI GOVERNMENT FAILURE – A CARDINAL LESSON FOR THE WORKING PEOPLE
(4.1) So bad is the situation today that there is almost a consensus that the outgoing government is a complete and embarrassing failure. Economically, the government has forced majority of the working people into frightful levels of impoverishment due to its anti-poor and pro-capitalist economic policies that includes privatization, retrenchment, poor wage, non-payment of salaries and allowances, hike in fuel price, electricity tariff and the cost of public education and healthcare.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), at least 133 million people are officially poor in Nigeria. Inflation is at over 20 percent while unemployment is at 40 percent. Now the economy is on the brink of collapse with mounting public debt, huge budget deficit and a devalued currency.
(4.2) In terms of insecurity, the outgoing government has failed to defeat Boko Haram. Rather, under this administration, other forms of violent crisis have worsened. This includes the herders versus farmers’ conflict, banditry, ethno-religious conflict and separatist agitation all of which have led to enormous wastage of lives, destruction of properties and the internal displacement of over 3.2 million people. Now today, no part of the country is safe while kidnapping has become a thriving criminal enterprise. Never before has Nigeria been under this level of siege from armed groups and other malevolent forces threatening to tear the country apart.
(4.3) In the same vein, the outgoing administration has been unable to end corruption, as we rightly predicted. Instead, the government has become a cesspit of corruption with many cases of mindboggling misappropriation and theft of public resources committed under it. This is notwithstanding the few cases of arrest and prosecution of public officials by the anti-corruption agencies. But these arrests and prosecutions were merely circus shows to create the impression that the government was seriously fighting corruption when in reality, it is not. Meanwhile in most cases, the accused looters were often left off the hook after arraignment in court or serving a brief sentence following plea bargaining.
(4.4) Likewise, the rights to freedom of association and expression were nearly completely annulled by the outgoing administration going by the series of measures taken to stifle public opinion. This includes the ban of twitter, arrest and detention of activists like Omoyele Sowore, bloggers and social media users and anyone who criticized the government. Under this outgoing administration, workers’ rights to strike have also suffered attacks with the “No Work, No Pay” rule deployed against members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), promotion of disunity and factionalization of the trade unions in order to weaken workers. Certainly, the highpoint of this government assault on democratic rights was the deployment of the army and the police to violently disperse the youth revolt of October 2020 in the infamous Lekki tollgate massacre.
(4.5) Never before have we had it so bad. Undoubtedly, the outgoing administration has brought Nigeria to the brink of collapse. Now, there is a mass exodus out of the country as professionals, academics, doctors, nurses, teachers and different categories of working people are fleeing the country. Never have we seen this level of mass migration since the end of the civil war.
(5.) SYSTEM CHANGE NOW – We will be Free until when we Decide to be Free, and not depended on Arrangee Elections that keep Producing Looters!
(5.1) The failure of the APC-Buhari Government does not come to us in JAF as a surprise. Quite the contrary, as we have argued several times, the fundamental cause of the crisis of inequality, poverty and underdevelopment in Nigeria is capitalism. By capitalism, we mean the social and economic system prevailing in Nigeria today under which the productive sectors of the economy are handed over to the private sector for profit-making and the government is run essentially in the interest of a few while the mass of the people wallow in poverty. There will be no real change in the condition of Nigeria so far as the socio-economic system is left unchanged in the control of the looters class. While deceitfully mouthing “change”, the outgoing APC-Buhari Government keeps on implementing the very same capitalist economic and political programmes that is responsible for Nigeria’s woes. This is the fundamental reason why the country is going from bad to worse.
(6. For REAL CHANGE and socio-economic transformation, of our society, we need what in JAF, we have since inauguration in 2015 defined as: “Nigeria is rich. The wealth belongs to the people. Most Nigerians are hungry, have no jobs, no education, no healthcare, no potable water, no electricity supply and no affordable transportation. Most cannot feed their families or educate their children. Those who are lucky to have jobs are not much different. They also cannot afford a decent living for their families. On the other hand, there is a very tiny group of Nigerians who have cornered the wealth that belong to the working people and the poor, who are in the majority. They loot the treasury and use their stolen wealth to sustain themselves in power through their political parties. They use their power to get richer and richer when the poor get poorer and poorer. This is the system of exploitation and oppression. It is the system that brings out the army and the police to kill poor people when they protest against oppression and exploitation. We want to change that system and replace it with a system where the working people and the millions of people who are sufferings under the system of exploitation will win power and ensure that the wealth of Nigeria is used to ensure a good life for the majority of the people who are now exploited and oppressed. System change is not replacing one exploiter’s government by another exploiter’s government. It is replacing an exploiter’s government by a people’s government to reorganise Nigeria and put an end to exploitation and oppression”.
(6.1) Unfortunately, the 2023 general elections will not deliver the kind of change posited by JAF. This is because the leading political parties and their candidates in the 2023 elections are looters and due to the absence of a mass workers party armed with propeople programme and policies. Suffice to stress that the Labour Party (LP) which has been endorsed by the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) does not stand for pro-worker programmes and policies. In our view, the endorsement by the NLC and TUC of the LP and the so-called worker-candidates of bourgeois political parties like the PDP and APC is a mistaken approach that will not deliver for the working masses a government that will genuinely rule in the class interest of the working people and the poor masses.
(6.) BUT WHAT TO DO IN THE ABSENCE OF THE DESIRED POLITICAL PARTY?
- PREPARE FOR A FIGHT BACK TO RESCUE THE COUNTRY!
- PREPARE THE PARTY NOW!
JAF stands for the formation and building of a mass workers party armed with socialist programmes and policies as the only way to ensure that the working masses have their own independent political party that stands unambiguously for their class interest. Regardless of what happens in the 2023 general elections, building such a party is the next most important step for the working masses of Nigeria. We hereby call on all genuine activists, radical groups, trade unions and pro-working people organizations to join forces with JAF in the quest to build such a mass workers party now as we prepare for mass resistance!
A POLITICAL ALTERNATIVE OF THE WORKING PEOPLE, THE WOMEN, THE YOUTH & THE OPPRESSED POOR SHOULD BE THE VEHICLE!
Comrade ABIODUN AREMU,