Socialist Workers and Youth League condemns the renewed quest of the federal government for a $29.96bn loan. About 50% of the federal budget is being spent on debt servicing, with no benefit to show for it, to the working masses. And a whopping sum of N2.21tn was spent to service debts in the first 9 months of 2018. The loan being sought from international creditors will increase the government’s indebtedness to N40tn. Thus, budgetary allocations for debt servicing in coming years is likely to increase, crowding out funding for social services such as health and education.
External debt increased by 114% under President Buhari’s watch, rising from $10.32bn before he took over power to $22.06bn by the end of his first tenure in May. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Total debt, including those owed to finance capital within the country, now adds up to over $81bn!
Yet, unemployment is on the rise and the country remains the poverty capital of the world, with millions of students out of school, as the gap between the haves and have-nots keeps increasing. This clearly shows that the loans are not meant to improve the lives of the popular masses. Rather, they are used to finance the greed and luxurious living of the rich.
The president’s argument that revenue from crude oil will not be enough to fund the 2020 budget is deceptive. Allocation for the salaries and remuneration of political office holders in the budget is twice the total allocations to health and education sectors combined. What this means is that 467 legislators making up 0.0002335% of the population, get N125bn, while per capita expenditure on health for the year is just N230. This is an indefensible misplacement of priorities and points shows that budgetary appropriation and debts incurred in our name, are essentially used to enrich the ruling elites not to meet the needs of poor working-class people.
It is also important at this juncture to ask how the recovered funds particularly the Abacha’s looted funds were managed or as is self-evident now; ‘mis-managed’.
In September VAT was increased from 5% to 7.5%, with effect from January 2nd. In defending the ridiculous hike, the government argued that such increment is necessary to fund the new national minimum wage, in attempt to turn different layers of working-class people against each other. But it is obvious that the APC regime is more committed to advancing the interests of local bosses and those of the reactionary global capital establishments such as the IMF.
With the recent attacks on civic space, and series of economic attacks on the people and thus eroding social protections, it is obvious the government and every other section of the ruling class is on an all-out war against the poor masses.
We must defend ourselves against these excruciating attacks and hardships. We call on the NLC, TUC, ULC, FIWON and all workers’ organizations to resist and ensure that more debts are not forced on us through mass mobilization. We thus urge the trade unions to lead a national mobilization in defense of our economic and political democratic rights as working-class people and youth. Together we must say no to uncalled for debts, no to humungous allowances for elected and appointed public officers. They must be made to earn no more than the average salaries of a worker
Healthcare and education for all are fundamental rights. We demand adequate funding for achieving these rights, and the full involvement of the trade unions, communities and mass democratic organizations of the people to ensure this.
by Lai BROWN