The first thing to ask amidst all the hue and cry about restructuring is – what does it really mean? Restructuring in simple terms means systemic political change or reshuffling. According to the peculiarities of Nigeria, restructuring means that Federal Government powers and parastatals should be decentralised so that the bulk of the state machinery and, more importantly, resources will be controlled or administered by the state or local governments. So, restructuring is a form of decentralisation.
This agenda holds no essential benefit for working-class peope, but holds great benefits for some sections of the corrupt elite. Hence it is not a mistake if we tag political restructuring as another opportunist elitist agenda. Restructuring is not necessarily in the interest of the working class, as the section of the bosses championing the reform want us to believe.
Restructuring is just about which section of the bosses and the political elite is to have greater access to loot the state’s resources. Whoever loots our resources, the masses will continue to suffer. Restructuring will favour a section of the bosses while the masses will see nothing and will continue to wallow in poverty.
It will not address any of the basic demands or interests of the working class, like increasing the minimum wage to at least N56,000 or ensuring that all workers and pensioners are paid on time and arrears of salaries and pensions are cleared. Restructuring could also create discord or disunity among the working class along ethnic nationality lines. This is why some bosses support restructuring to exploit and sabotage working peoples’ unity.
We, in the Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL), urge the working class to organize and put more pressure on the government, at all levels, to comply with each and every one of the workers’ demands. This requires the NLC and TUC to organise general strikes and demonstrations. This should include mass picketing, as was successfully done in Imo State and other places. It is high time we utilized our collective power. It is important to point out that our power goes beyond electoral politics, our power is in our unity.
The workers should take agitation for the upward review of the minimum wage to at least fifty six thousand Naira (N56,000) to the work places, union meetings, streets and to the barricades! This is the talk that should fill the air not the bosses’ melodrama. Workers and pensioners also need to fight for their salaries and pensions to be paid regularly each month and that arrangements are made to pay their arrears immediately.
Workers should call for restructuring of the petroleum industry, including the exploration, distribution and marketing. This should be placed solely under workers control democratic management, not with any private individuals.
Workers should call for restructuring of the remuneration of political office holders. Political office holders, including members of the National and State Assemblies, special advisors and so on, should be paid no more than the average pay of civil servants.
Finally, all workers from all sectors should organize and fight for major social change that will put the masses first. We in the Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL) urge workers to organize with us for the emancipation of the working class from below.
by Lai BROWNE