Joint Action Front, (JAF), the tireless organiser of popular agitation in Nigeria is saying the goal is a new social order in Nigeria by changing the system rather than one-issue protests. It is, therefore, insisting on continuing mobilization of the Nigerian poor on the ground that there is battle ahead since the Federal Government merely talked about suspension, not cancellation of fuel subsidy removal.
In what can be assessed as the most systematic articulation of popular angst against the subsidy consortium of FG-IMF/World Bank, JAF puts on the table its own preferences in terms of the way forward in a language that has to be published almost in full.
Joint Action Front (JAF)
- The Joint Action Front (JAF) salutes the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for its recourse to its highest organ – the National Executive Council (NEC) and its briefing of the leadership of JAF before its suspension of the planned protests that were to hold on January 27th and February 1st! As noted in the Congress’ statement made available to us: “The leadership of the Congress has communicated this organ decision to our civil society allies who have stood stoically behind Nigerian workers in our quest for social and economic justice for workers and the downtrodden people of our country. Going forward, we will continue to engage with the government on the very critical issues of ensuring local refining of petroleum, creation of sustainable jobs and provision of petrol at an affordable price for Nigerian workers and people“. We acknowledge that the NLC while suspending the protests recognizes that there is still battle ahead since the Federal Government, in its statement, is still bent on imposing the fuel hike and further hardship on Nigerians any moment in future, but only retreating in the face of mass anger and resistance!
- The lesson to learn is that organised labour can fight and should, at all times, fight to defend the interest of the working people and the oppressed masses of Nigeria. However, we urge the Congress to remain proactive and move beyond a one-time issue (hike in petrol prices) to a sustained agenda of working class consciousness, mass organisation and mass mobilisation against all anti-poor, neo-liberal policies and for a mass working people political alternative!
- As for JAF, the nationwide mobilisation on all issues should continue and in view of this, JAF reiterates its stands as follows:
(a) In the run down to the 2015 general election, when the Buhari-APC was deceiving the Nigerian people, with its so-called change-mantra, JAF publicly declared at a press conference that: “Irrespective of the party that wins the presidential election, the crisis in the economy is bound to continue because the economic agenda of the two major parties (PDP and APC) remains dependent on oil and capitalist policies of privatisation and deregulation. These policies are operated and championed by servants of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose main business is to steal our national wealth for their own self corrupt enrichment and for the use of the exploiters in Europe, United States of America, Japan, Asia, etc. These agents cannot defend the working people, the poor and the oppressed anywhere”.
(b) Why Nigerians Must Resist and Defeat Every Hike in Fuel Prices
Barely a year of the President Buhari Government, on May 11th 2016, the deceptive President Buhari regime, unleashed the wicked increase in fuel price, from N86.50 to N145. The regime’s first punishment and hardship on Nigerians had started with hike in Electricity tariffs on 1st February 2016.
- Before and from 1999, the successive paddi-paddi politician regimes of Obasanjo, Yar’Adua Jonathan and Buhari, in collaboration with their foreign masters, have been looting Nigeria’s oil wealth!
- A point that the oppressed Nigerians of all ethnic groups should NOTE is that is all the four regimes have always rehearsed the same arguments of so-called “oil subsidy gratifying corruption”, but the President Buhari Government who rose to power on the account of the January 2012 Uprising and deception to fight corruption, is now deeply enmeshed in corruption and inefficiency! No thief has been prosecuted in the oil and power sectors in spite of the findings of government committees. No person has been tried for corruption in handling of subsidy up till now.
(c) Scorecards of All Regimes on Oil Subsidy Since 1999
- For the past 22 years of subsidy removal, no new refineries have been built!
- Billions of US dollars were appropriated for maintenance of the now moribund four refineries, but nothing meaningful has been reported done, yet no one has been arraigned nor convicted for looting the money meant for the refineries!
- Scores of licenses were issued for the past two decades to private operators for private refineries, yet none built till date but promises and a waiting game of a Dangote building one!
- As at today, in January 2022, ordinary Nigerians across the country, irrespective of religion and ethnic divides, face serious economic hardship, while those who rule Nigeria with our collective wealth are richer and richer with the looted wealth of Nigeria.
- Hunger is everywhere, insecurity is everywhere, workers are thrown out of jobs, families suffer daily agonies, old-aged and children are starving, even the minimum wage is starvation wage because the costs of transport and food prices are unbearable and have been increasing daily. What of electricity shortage and hike in tariffs? President Obasanjo regime looted $16bn, President Jonathan regime did its own and President Buhari’s government like its predecessor and their class allies, are using ‘credit financing’ to loot public wealth! Despite the claim that the power sector is privatised, yet the government has continued to pump money public fund into the sector for their looters’ class.
- With Nigeria’s debt running into tens of trillions and millions of unemployed youth have no hope of jobs nor social security protection, yet the President Buhari regime keeps political sycophants and treasury looters busy with the nation’s oil wealth building hotels, private schools and universities, private hospitals, sending their children and families abroad with looted wealth, etc, that should have been available to provide public education system for all, public healthcare system for all, decent living for all, etc.
(d) We Can and Should Rescue the Working People, All the Oppressed Classes and the Youth
- When JAF advocates the necessity to struggle for the reversal of the neo-liberal policies and struggle for SYSTEM CHANGE, what we mean is that our country is run on the basis of the unjust capitalist system dictated by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who direct economic policies that the follow-follow looters’ class and their cronies of political jobbers impose on Nigerians!
- Such ‘suffer suffer’ policies as the sale to the few rich and corruptly enriched through the nation’s looted wealth, the public property (that belongs to the people of Nigeria) that shouldn’t be sold (privatization); pricing education, health, and other social services out of the reach of workers and the poor masses (commercialization), driving workers out of jobs (retrenchment), importing and selling goods that are not needed in Nigeria (liberalization of trade) etc. The looters’ class in Nigeria as represented by all the regimes since 1999, including President Buhari’s Government, its policies, failures, etc, derived from capitalism and its instruments of the IMF and the World Bank. Therefore, Nigerians must never believe them. Instead, Nigerians should unite to end all the policies that have caused and are causing so much suffering to the working people and poor masses.
- With another hike in fuel prices and electricity tariffs looming in addition to introduction of various obnoxious taxes, the working people and poor masses of Nigeria MUST decide what they want! The deceptions by these regimes of the looters’ class and imperialist agents must stop! The people must choose between freedom or continuous sufferings!
- As Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang it in “sufferin & shimilin” – suffer, suffer for world, enjoy for heaven…! Nigerians must open their eyes, ears, senses and mouths and be prepared to struggle to defeat all looters’ regimes and reject their lies!
- Nigerians should no longer be at the mercy of corrupt politicians and their cronies of petroleum marketers and local and foreign vampires. The successive regimes of OBJ-Yar’Adua-Jonathan-Buhari have run down the public health care system, the public education system, etc. In fact, the public spirit generally in the responsibility of Government to the citizens have been undermined with the capitalist neo-liberal agenda of privatization, devaluation and deregulation; and this explains why doctors and health workers, unions in the public services, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and other unions in tertiary institutions, etc, are always on strikes. The looters’ class does not trust the nation’s health system and education system, hence the underfunding policy of public education and health care and their junketing abroad regularly with stolen wealth for medical attention and convocation/ graduation ceremonies of their children! BUT ALL THESE MUST STOP! We must struggle to end this unjust system!
(e) Why We Must Struggle for System Change Now
- The government magic of OBJ-YAR’ADUA-JONATHAN-BUHARI that Nigerians have experienced since 1999 and still seeing today is what awaits Nigeria in 2023 and beyond, and as long as this kind of system of exploitation and looting continues, there is no good future for Nigerian workers and the oppressed masses.
- JAF has always told Nigerians that there must be a national struggle for the abolition of neo-liberal policies, which has virtually ruined Nigeria’s economy and threatened the survival of our country. Neo-liberalism is an instrument of robbery for which the Nigeria’s rulers must be held responsible!
- Beyond the suspension of the protests of January 27th and February 1st 2022, the challenge to Nigerians is to struggle towards ending suffering and bringing about a just system, in which government will use the country’s resources to provide decent living condition to all the people – jobs, education, healthcare, shelter, living wage, electricity, social welfare and security, an end to retrenchment of workers out of jobs, end to IMF and World Bank policies, etc.
- Nigerians must RESIST and DEFEAT the looters’ regimes now! If we don’t and allow them to get away with the planned hike in fuel prices and electricity tariifs, worse things will follow!
- Fight for a System Change which means an END to the unjust system of capitalism and its failed policies of Privatization, Deregulation, Devaluation, and the reign of looting, debt burden and exploitation, etc, in order to bring forth a new POLITICAL and ECONOMIC ORDER under a JUST SYSTEM (SOCIALISM). It is only a JUST SYSTEM that can ensure that the wealth of the country is judiciously used to benefit the working people and the oppressed poor.
- JAF urges Nigeria to intensify the mobilisation by holding work places & neighbourhood meetings and join all protests aimed at stopping hunger, hike in fuel prices and electricity tariffs, joblessness, rising cost of living, local and foreign debts enslavement, IMF and World dictated inhuman capitalist policies!
SYSTEM CHANGE IS OUR GOAL!
Signed: Dr. Oladipo Fashina, JAF Chairperson , Comrade ABIODUN AREMU, JAF Secretary