SYSTEM CHANGE REMAINS OUR GOAL!
1. It has become imperative in the light of the ongoing nationwide consultation by the President Jonathan’s Advisory Committee on the National Conference to restate the position of the Joint Action Front (JAF), which had previously been made public in March 2012.
2. The position of JAF on the National Conference was a product of a Special Discussion Session of JAF’s Affiliates on the State of the Nigeria nation-state held on March 11th 2012 in Lagos.
3. We stand by the resolution of the aforementioned March 11th 2012 meeting, which became necessary then because of the desperate calls for National Dialogue (ND), National Conference (NC) or Sovereign National Conference (SNC) by politicians, military apologists, government fronts and agents, imperialist lackeys, and members of the exploiter’s class in-and-out of government (in the past four decades) alike.
4. JAF, therefore, wishes to re-state its position as clearly articulated then, that:
· JAF is not opposed to Dialogue or National Conference or Sovereign National Conference or by whatever name it is called; but such a Conference should not be at the instance of the same members of the ruling cabal and their recruits who suddenly become “champions of National Dialogue”;
· JAF acknowledged that in the call for ND, NC or SNC, there are few patriots who are genuinely committed to the resolution of the crises in the Nigerian polity through social dialogue. But the concern of JAF is that majority of those calling for the ND, NC or SNC are members and fronts of the ruling cabal and political parties who want to re-negotiate among themselves the conditions under which they will continue to enjoy their privileges while keeping the majority of the people poor and powerless;
· The Mass Protest of January 9th – 16th 2012 protest against the wicked imposition of a high price for petrol, in which Nigerians overwhelmingly supported the call by the Joint Action Front (JAF) and its labour allies – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) - was unprecedented as it cut across ethnic and religious boundaries, and put a lie to the use of religion and ethnicity by successive regimes and their cohorts to engender the perennial violence and insecurity in the country;
· The failure by the ruling cabal and office holders at the three levels of government and their collaborating political jobbers to deliver on electoral promises and ensure responsible governance, has been responsible for the political instability, ethnic and religious suspicion and violence, and the insecurity of life and property being daily aggravated by the perpetration of condemnable violence by such groups as the Boko Haram, MEND and Amnesty palliatives-excluded Niger Delta militants, ethnic militias and other yet-identified groups who have turned the country into a theatre of bombing, kidnapping, hostage taking, sophisticated armed robbery and gang warfare.
· The popular expression of the Nigerian working people and the poor is that the current neo-liberal order of privatisation and deregulation with its attendant failure to deliver on education, health, employment opportunities, social welfare, infrastructure, etc have made life unbearable to the people
· Nigerians should be wary of the forces in the mainstream of the National Dialogue or Sovereign National Conference (SNC) because they are not on the side of the working people and the poor. The Governors and their fronts that are now dissolving into ethnic platforms of North, South, East and West to demand a Conference and review of revenue allocation, are the same forces that conspired with the Federal Government to impose hike in fuel prices, increase in electricity tariffs and other untold hardships on Nigerians. It is not enough to talk about “Political restructuring and Revenue Derivation”, Nigerians should in particular, be concerned with: what use has the current office holders made of the allocation they receive monthly?
· Genuine unity of Nigerians despite the diverse ethnic and religious differences is possible, and can be attained by a Conference that is led by patriots and pro-working people and the poor organisations and its agenda should be based on: CONTROL OF THE ECONOMY AND GOVERNANCE FOR THE COLLECTIVE INTEREST OF THE PEOPLE as against the current running of the economy for SELFISH PRIVATE INTEREST OF THE POLITICIANS;
· If a Conference becomes inevitable to address the national question and resolve the decades of political and economic decadence; it should be a Conference of the Exploited and Oppressed Working people and the poor who have genuine reasons for their anger and frustration against the existing ruling cabal, whose callousness and inimical policies have been responsible for the decades of injustice, dehumanisation, poverty and wants, ethnic and minority marginalization and hatred, bad governance, looting and sharp corrupt practices, underdevelopment, subservient to foreign political and economic dictates, etc;
· The major task before Nigerians is the UNITY of the social forces across the country on a NATIONAL AGENDA to redeem the country from the present class of looters and profiteers who are located in every ethnic and religious groups; and
· Patriots and organisations of the working people and the poor that are truly committed to the socio-economic emancipation of Nigerians should join forces together as was done in the January 2012 protest to provide leadership in the quest for a new Nigeria that should ensure that the country’s wealth is judiciously used to benefit all Nigerians, irrespective of sex, age, ethnic or religious differences.
5. SYSTEM CHANGE IS WHAT NIGERIANS MUST FOCUS ON!
· The Political Alternative that Nigerians should embrace now is SYSTEM CHANGE in order to rescue power from the present wicked and corrupt ruling class of exploiters and oppressors.
· What in JAF we meant by SYSTEM CHANGE: “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”.
DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO WIN!
Comrade ABIODUN AREMU