#August5thProtest: “FREEDOM COMETH BY STRUGGLE”

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Working people and youth desiring a better Nigeria will be at the barricades today for the #August5thProtest to denounce the current social, economic and political system which works for a few looters, brigands and vagabonds in power.

Across several cities and towns, they will fan the embers of revolution, marking a year of the launch of the #RevolutionNow movement by the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), and taking our unrepentant struggle for system change forward.

Our demands are straightforward and quite simple. We want an economy which works for the masses and not the 1% in and out of government. We want a living wage as the minimum wage and unemployment benefits for the unemployed. We want quality universal public healthcare and education. We want to stop corruption and the senseless killings that have become the order of the day.

In short, we want a better society. And we will fight to emancipate ourselves from the clutches of the exploiters and oppressors who benefit from the present system. We will fight to build society anew, based on solidarity and the all-round development of everybody.

Why are we fighting?

It is obvious to the masses that it is not due to lack of resources that we are poor. Our lands are filled with abundant natural resources. And our labour creates vast wealth. But a few people make us work for pittance, pocketing the wealth our labour creates. They also exploit the natural resources of the land with reckless abandon, polluting the environment for profit. Those of them in government enrich themselves without the slightest sense of shame, piling billions of naira into their pockets.

Every other week, one set of massive corruption becomes news only to be displaced by news of even more terrible looting the following week. ExecutTHIEVES, legisLOOTERS, judiSHARING – members of all three roguish arms of government are complicit in these: from the presidency to the local government council.

We were all witnesses on television to members of the house of representatives telling the Chair of the Niger Delta Development Commission that “it is okay, that is enough” when he wanted to expose more cans of worms, during a public hearing on the NDDC’s spending of N81bn in just a few months. Just a handful of persons benefited from this “spending” while millions of poor people in the Niger delta go hungry – their rivers and lands despoiled from oil exploitation, their communities lacking basic social amenities.

The Alpha Beta group of companies of Mr Bola Tinubu the “leader” of APC which rakes in billions of naira monthly as tax consultant for the Lagos state government was fingered in an N100bn scam, involving tax evasion and money laundering, since 2018. SimonsCooper Partners the law firm of Prof (Pastor) Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president is implicit in this thievery. And Mr Magu, the disgraced boss of the anti-fraud agency EFCC, has been indicted for what pocketing billions of naira from the loot recovered by the agency.

Will anything come out of all these? Absolutely not, if they can have their way, as we have learnt from experience. It has become commonplace for us to hear such news and then silence or at best a slap on the wrist while the thieves continue living large.

Meanwhile, as economic crisis deepens in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of workers are being sacked,. Bristow And Peace Air have recently sacked hundreds of workers in the aviation sector, with the salaries of those left on the job cut by up to 40%.

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation laid off 850 workers last month, and the international oil companies as well. Banks are sacking staff, despite the Central Bank’s hypocritical directive against this. And all these is despite General Buhari’s promise to the trade unions that jobs would be protected. Beyond promises worth less than a pinch of salt, as the Chemical and Non-metallic workers’ union pointed out, the federal government appears to support some industries sacking workers!

The situation is no better for workers in the informal economy. To make ends meet has been tough enough. Governments only make this terrible situation worse. Their means of livelihood and their homes are demolished with impunity. Lagos state in particular is very much culpable of this brazen demonstration of inhumanity. Not less than two mechanic villages were torn down last month alone. More than forty have been demolished over the last twenty years. Hundreds of shops, kiosks and motor parks have also been demolished over the last few months. Hundreds of homes in informal settlements have also been demolished, leaving tens of thousands of poor people homeless.

Our heartless rulers care less for our children as well. They have re-opened schools without putting adequate safety and health measures in place for pupils and teachers. The exclusive private schools their own children attend have everything in place. But our public schools are in shambles. No running water, no space for adequate physical distancing or recreation, and no motivation in terms of remuneration or working conditions for overworked teachers.

Knowing how poor the masses whose children attend public schools are, some governments even cruelly ask parents to pay N25,000 for COVID-19 and malaria testing. And this in a country where the minimum wage (which one third of the states are yet to pay and others pay kwashiorkor versions of) is just N30,000. They also expect us to buy facemasks for our wards and children. Meanwhile, teachers in private schools, including those who teach the well-fed children of the rich in the elite schools have not been paid salaries for upwards of four months.

It is not enough to complain – it is time to FIGHT!

Nigerians, except for the few that comprise this class of thieves, are tired of all this state of original sufferhead. In newspapers, on street corners, at newspaper vendors’ stands, and in our different homes and offices, people complain and verbally express their anger.

We all want genuine and fundamental change. Not the “is coming” kind of 419 “change” of the APC which it used to obtain power by trick in 2015. What we actually want is emancipatory change which will lift the burden of suffering off our shoulders.

But this kind of change is revolutionary change, and it will not come on its own. It will not be simply given to us on a platter of gold. We can challenge the powers that be in court, through statements petitions and so on and so forth. These are all good, but they are not enough.

We must defeat the bosses, the rich 1%ers and their system who benefit from this system, and destroy their exploitative and oppressive system, for us to be free – free of hunger, free of insecurity, free of oppression, free of exploitation, free of humiliation, free of sufferation. Only we ourselves, can free ourselves.

In our hands is placed a greater power than the hoarded gold of the bosses, as the Solidarity Forever song teaches us. Our power lies in the organisation of our labour and on the streets. Revolution is the only way the working masses can break the chains of this vampirish system.

Revolution now, is the way forward to liberate ourselves. We know the journey will be rough, for the exploiters will not easily surrender from sucking the blood of the sufferers. But the people united and determined cannot be defeated.

Join the #RevolutionNow movement, in our collective struggle to win a new Nigeria, and indeed a new world, for freedom comes only by struggle. Join the #August5thProtest and the series of demonstrations and mass disobedience Coalition for Revolution will be organising over the coming months. Dare to struggle and dare to win. This is the time to FIGHT!

by Baba AYE

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