WE SALUTE NIGERIANS FOR THEIR PATRIOTIC EFFORTS FOR A JUST SOCIETY
SYSTEM CHANGE REMAINS OUR GOAL
Text of the Press Conference by Joint Action Front (JAF) in collaboration with the Religious Groups, Nigeria Medical Association Lagos State and the Nigeria Bar Association Ikeja & Lagos Branches held at CCG, Lagos, Tuesday, February 14th 2012
Dear media compatriots, we called this media briefing to address three main issues:
1. Feedback to Nigerians on the last protest against hike in fuel price;
2. Make a public declaration of the POLITICAL MEMORIAL scheduled for February 18th 2012; and
3. Reiterate the commitment of JAF to the struggle for SYSTEM CHANGE
1. THE STRIKE/MASS ACTION AGAINST HIKE IN FUEL PRICE
1.1 We must salute Nigerians for the unprecedented massive turnout and patriotic show of commitment to redeem our country from looters and profiteers from January 9th – 16th 2012 against the wicked imposition of the pump price of petrol at N141 on January 1st 2012, in which the Federal Government, in the face of mass resistance, resorted to the use of force to unleash violence and repress the people, and thereby unilaterally imposed another pump price of N97 since January 16th. We equally salute the media and other collaborating organisations whose effective mobilisation and solidarity ensured the little gains the protest achieved. We urge all Nigerians to understand that their resistance demonstrated that the fate of Nigeria depends not on the exploiters but on the suffering masses.
1.2 Nigerians must recall that despite the militarisation of protest venues and centres across the country from the midnight of January 16th, you demonstrated your confidence in JAF by joining forces with us on the January 16th MASS ACTION to continue the struggle for the reversal of petrol price to N65 until the JAF led peaceful street protest from NLC Yaba through Ikorodu road was violently repressed by the combined team of military and police at Onipanu-Palmgrove axis on Ikorodu road, Lagos.
1.3 We must acknowledge that though our goal of price reversal to N65 was not attained, it was the resolve by Nigerians that compelled an intransigent Federal Government that said there was no going back from its N141 unpopular stance to retreat into the unacceptable N97. This confirms the correctness of the JAF slogan during the MASS ACTION that: “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win”. It is clear that without the struggle of January 9th – 16th, the pump price of petrol would have remained N141; and the National Assembly wouldn’t have come up with the recently concluded Fuel Subsidy Public Hearing, which further exposed the deep rot in the unjust system, and attested to the JAF declaration that “fuel subsidy is fraud”.
1.4 JAF remains firm to continue the struggle for reversal not only to N65 but to mobilise Nigerians to defeat the policies of privatisation and deregulation which will not end the comatose state of refineries and which will allow Government’s to abdicate its responsibility for providing public goods. The result is that our country will continue to be dependent on fuel importation to the advantage of a few super rich looters, profiteers and marketers. As long as the policy of deregulation remains in force, prices of fuel, electricity and other services are bound to be out of reach of the majority of Nigerians and untold hardships will continue; hence the resolve by JAF to urge Nigerians to struggle to REJECT and DEFEAT all bad and anti-poor policies at all times.
2. THE POLITICAL MEMORIAL
2.1 JAF has concluded plans to organise a POLITICAL MEMORIAL in honour of those killed and injured by the armed personnel in the course of the popular struggle of January 9th – 16th 2012 for the reversal of the fuel price hike.
2.2 JAF is doing this in collaboration with religious groups and professional groups, in particular, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Lagos State, and Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja and Lagos Branches that joined forces with us throughout the struggle and have remained worthy partners of JAF.
2.3 We must emphasise that an important element of the POLITICAL MEMORIAL is the need for a PRAYER SESSSION to be conducted as full service by Muslims, Christians and other faith-based groups. JAF notes that one of the gains of the last struggle was the active participation of religious groups across the country, in particular, the novelty which Christian and Muslim groups introduced in some major centres such as Kano, Lagos and Ibadan, with use of the prayer sessions to demonstrate the role of religion as a unifying element towards national cohesion, social justice and human centred development.
2.4 Thus, the planned POLITICAL MEMORIAL which holds on February 18th being the 40th Day is aimed at:
· Encouraging religious groups and leaders to offer special prayer session for the martyrs and victims of the Struggle of January 9th – 16th 2012 and the living; and the need for Nigerians to see religion not as a divisive factor, but one that should unite all (irrespective of religious belief, ethnicity and sex) as a community of human beings desiring maximum welfare and happiness in our society.
· Reiterate the martyr status of our heroes Comrades Chima Ubani and Tunji Oyeleru (both died on September 21st 2005 in a motor accident on their return from the Maiduguri rally against hike in fuel prices, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Alao Aka Bashorun, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and others.
· Express the appreciation and solidarity of JAF to Nigerians through peaceful procession on the streets with leaflets and the need for Nigerians to continue the struggle for a society in which the wealth of the country is judiciously applied to benefit the majority working population (formal and informal sectors) and the poor, as opposed to the present looting of the people’s wealth and private takeover of national wealth in the midst of joblessness, illiteracy, disease, millions of unemployed, uneducated and idle youth, insecurity of life and property, collapse of infrastructures, unaffordable cost of education, health and shelter, poverty and untold hardships, etc.
The POLITICAL MEMORIAL is scheduled to hold as follows:
Date: Saturday, February 18th 2012
Time: 8am – 2pm (8am: start of street procession) & (12 noon: start of the prayer session/rallies)
Venues: Nigeria Labour Congress, Yaba (starting point through Ikorodu Road) to Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Square, Ojota (Prayer/Mass Rally point)
3. WHAT IS SYSTEM CHANGE AND WHY STRUGGLE MUST CONTINUE?
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. This is what we mean by system change.
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 oppression and exploitation. This is what JAF stands for. The people’s government can only be brought about by a political party of the working people and the poor that will be committed to ending the policies of privatisation and deregulation and looting and exploitation by the class of exploiters and looters and ensure that the wealth of our country is judiciously used to benefit ALL.
FORWARD EVER, BACKWARD NEVER!
Dr. Oladipo Fashina Comrade Abiodun Aremu
JAF Chairperson JAF Secretary
Imam Sherideen Ibrahim, President, The Muslim Congress (TMC)
Revd Father Emmanuel Fadele, Director, Justice, Peace and Development Commission (JDPC)
Dr. E.O. Temiye, Chairperson, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Lagos State
Barrister Adegbamigbe Omole, Chairperson, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja & Lagos Branches