LABOUR SHOULD HAVE NO BUSINESS IN ANOTHER WASTEFUL JAMBOREE!!
A CONFERENCE OF THE WORKING AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE TO FIGHT AND DEFEAT THE RULING CLIQUES OF LOOTERS IS THE WAY FORWARD!!!
Text of Press Conference by Joint Action Front (JAF) held at CCG, Lagos, March 13th 2014
We in the Joint Action Front (JAF) welcome our dear media compatriots to this press conference, which has been specifically scheduled to:
· Expose the deception and futility of the Jonathan National Conference (JNC);
· Appeal to our partners – NLC and TUC to back out of the JNC; and
· Articulate our position on the ongoing realities and the challenge before the Nigerian working people and the oppressed classes.
All seemed set for the commencement of another looting jamboree in the guise of the Jonathan National Conference (JNC) in the next few days. The stage for this wasteful exercise was set with the release of a LIST of 492 delegates selected by the FG in the evening of March 6th 2014.
WHY JAF INSISTS THE JNC IS AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY?
1. We in JAF wish to recall that about two years ago when the demand for the convocation of a National Conference (NC) by various civil society groups (Not JAF), political parties and ethnic platforms raged like wildfire across the country; we made our position clear to Nigerians that “a National Conference convoked at the instance of the ruling cliques of exploiters and looters cannot resolve the problems of Nigeria”.
2. We consistently re-affirmed our position when the Jonathan presidency in 2014 made official pronouncement of the timetable and modalities of the JNC. The consistency of our position as captured on March 11th 2012 can be recalled and summed up as follows:
· That such a Conference should not be at the instance of the same members of the ruling cabal and their new recruits who suddenly become “champions of National Dialogue”.
· We acknowledged then that there were few patriots genuinely committed to the resolution of the crises in the Nigerian polity through a NC. But we equally expressed the concern that majority of those calling for NC were 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 composition of the JNC with the so-called list of elder Statesmen, retired security and armed operatives, traditional rulers, ex-convicts such as Bode George and DSP Alamieyeseigha, apologists, etc has actually confirmed that fear.
· We stated that 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) - cut across ethnic and religious lines and put a lie to the use of religion and ethnicity by successive regimes and their cohorts to engender perennial violence and insecurity in the country.
· We observed that the failure by the ruling cabals and political office holders at the three levels of government, has been responsible for the recurring political instability, ethnic and religious suspicion and violence, and the insecurity of life and property being daily aggravated by the menace of Boko Haram, MEND and Amnesty palliatives-excluded Niger Delta militants, ethnic militias, etc.
· That the neo-liberal economic policies 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.
· JAF had also warned Nigerians that it was not enough to talk about “Political restructuring and Revenue Derivation”, but that Nigerians should in particular, be concerned with: what use the current office holders make of the allocations they receive monthly?
· We had recommended to Nigerians that if a Conference becomes inevitable to address the national questions in order to 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.
3. It should be clear from the foregoing that our opposition to such a wasteful project as the JNC is not new. Our understanding of what Nigerians need is informed by our analysis that the extant capitalist exploitative division of our society into exploiters (looters) and the exploited, and oppressors against the oppressed is the critical challenge. This is contrary to the false notion that nationalities’ crises are the fundamental problems of Nigeria.
4. If we may ask: where are the democratic credentials of the delegates to the JNC? Who elected them? Where are the people’s assemblies that determined most of the delegates? Even ethnic associations and religious groups that have been used to facilitate the JNC are complaining about representatives being imposed on them? We are aware that all the JNC delegates at all levels, were either appointees or apologists of the ruling class of exploiters?
5. The JNC being a product of a doctored-list of delegates by the Presidency lacks any power to enforce the outcome of the talk-shop. The best the JNC can come up with would be feeble constitutional proposals, with which to further unite the ruling class of exploiters to continue the looting spree at the expense of underdevelopment of the working people.
A SPECIAL APPEAL TO THE NLC and TUC
6. The Joint Action Front (JAF) has been in partnership with the two labour centres – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) since 2003 under the broad platform of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO). We struggled together to defend the interest of the working people and oppressed classes as manifested in several struggles against the perennial hike in fuel prices; against the policies of privatization and deregulation, against violation of collective agreements by Government, against obnoxious laws and policies aimed at undermining the working people, against electoral frauds and sharp corrupt atrocities, etc.
7. However, much as we recognize the right of our partners – NLC and TUC to their independence of decisions on critical national issues, such as the issue of the JNC, which they have endorsed to participate, we in JAF have a responsibility to APPEAL to them to reconsider their position. JAF is concerned that the Labour movement should not be rubbished by the ruling class of exploiters to achieve their selfish political agenda.
8. We cannot be indifferent to Labour’s participation in a JNC we know would end up as a futile exercise because both Congresses represent the aspirations of millions of the working people and oppressed Nigerians, given its antecedent of leadership of critical struggles in the life of our country since the anti-colonial and post-independence struggles. Our partners should know that in alliance with them, we have a historical duty to the exploited and oppressed working people to avoid the deceptive and desperate politics of the ruling class of exploiters, which are clearly anti-poor, anti-working people and responsible for the current state of underdevelopment and general state of insecurity in the country.
9. We want our partners to know that our thorough social class analysis of the JNC revealed it as another wasteful and looting project, whose carcasses would become clearer to the generality of Nigerians in the next six months. The JNC, to say the least, is just in the stead of the recently held wasteful jamboree called the Centenary Celebration of Colonial Nigeria. The necessary questions we asked were:
- Where in the JNC are the representatives of the more than 10 million Okada or Achaba or motorcyclists who are daily harassed, humiliated, brutalised and some of who are graduates and have been ridiculed and reduced to pauperization as the direct result of an economy polity that does to create environment of productive jobs?
- Where are the representatives of the more than 40 million unemployed youth and graduates in the JNC who are the daily victims of the growing rate of unemployment?
- Why should we take serious a JNC that allotted 18 delegates to youth and students represented by agents of the Presidency? Can such handpicked puppets of the Presidency be said to represent the interest of millions of Nigerian students and the future of the Nigerian Child on the right to adequately funded and democratically managed educational institutions. It may be useful to ask when and where did the students meet on the JNC?
- Why should anyone whose is genuinely concerned about the continued sharp corrupt practices, which is the major contributory factor to Government’s irresponsibility to the needs of the working people, participate in a JNC, who sources of funding are not transparent and yet billions of Naira would be used as settlements to the conferees?
- Why should we waste our efforts in a doomed JNC instead of working out programmes that can meaningfully ensure that the youth of our country are no longer appendage or mercenaries to the politicians and the ruling cliques of looters?
- Why should we entrust a Government that failed to implement collective agreements with millions of workers, that continue to deny entitlements to pensioners, that keep polytechnic and colleges of education students across the country out of schools for several months, etc; and expect such a Government to implement decisions of a Conference of favoured delegates and sympathizers?
- In what way will the JNC compel the government to implement to the fullest the 2011 National Minimum Wage law, and Agreements reached with ASUP, SSANIP and COEASU?
- The JNC as far as we in JAF are concerned is just another patronizing platform for most of the delegates seeking material benefits. We therefore call on the leadership of the NLC and TUC to have a rethink on its participation in the JNC in order to avoid eroding its credibility.
- Instead of dissipating our efforts on the JNC, we demand that Labour should rally Nigerians to compel the FG to implement to the fullest the demands by the pensioners, ASUP, COEASU and other unions presently suffering non-implementation of collective agreements. These are germane issues that affect the generality of the working people, which the JNC doesn’t have as its agenda.
THE WAY FORWARD
10. We commend to Labour to provide leadership for a nationwide campaign against the policies of privatization and deregulation and for full industrialization drive that could ensure massive employment and expansion of infrastructure, which the JNC would never address.
11. What Nigerians need today is a conference of the working and oppressed people to resolve on putting an end to the regime of the class of looters (PDP, APC, APGA, etc,).
12. Thus, in the of face the continuing monumental corruption and global failure of capitalism to deliver on the needs and aspirations of the working people, we would prefer to join forces with Labour to appreciate that the major task required to redeem Nigeria is to ensure a national agenda that can lead to the socialist transformation of the country.
13. To achieve this, we demand that Labour and its JAF partner under LASCO should work towards the emergence of a genuine mass party of the working class and the poor as the political alternative to the political parties of the ruling class of exploiters.
FORWARD EVER, BACKWARD NEVER!
Dr. Oladipo Fashina Comrade Abiodun Aremu
JAF Chairperson JAF Secretary