Moments of major crises are filled with uncertainty. The way forward for society in such periods is determined by struggle between the ruling classes and the oppressed masses. We are in the middle of the deepest worldwide crisis ever.
The IMF describes it as “a crisis like no other”. The rich bosses are in a state of confusion, but they are clear about defending the exploitative economic system which they benefit from. And they will do everything they can to restore order on the backs of the poor masses.
Working-class people in Nigeria and across the world need to clearly understand what is at stake. By mid-August there had been well over twenty million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide and over three quarters of a million of these have died. The number of confirmed cases in Nigeria stood at 49,895 with 981 deaths.
These are worrying figures. But the coronavirus public health emergency is essentially a torchlight on the inadequate social-economic system of capitalism. That we have COVID-19 today, and that it has such a devastating effect is all due to the nature of this system which pursues profit and wealth for a few, at the detriment of the lives and wellbeing of the vast majority of humankind and the earth.
SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 and several other disease-causing viruses including Ebola have been living within animals in the wilderness for ages. They crossed over into human beings through the expansion of profit-seeking activities that destroy forests and promote massive industrial production of meat for the market.
The market is the god of the capitalists. And they are its priests who enjoy the wealth our labour and nature produce for the altar of that false god. Even we, as workers, poor farmers and artisans are not fully humans in the eye of the capitalists. We are merely labour; a “factor of production” in the “labour market”.
That is why the wages we are paid, such as the pittance of N30,000 as minimum wage is not based on what we need. It is at best to keep us alive for work, like the way chickens are fed to keep them alive for slaughter. That is why the wealth of a few rich people is more important to them than our health.
The fact that virtually all countries in the world had shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers does not only expose the limitations of a global supply chain based on the market. It also shows how little the bosses care for working people’s lives.
The amount spent to purchase anti-riot gear for one police officer is enough to provide full PPE for 55 health workers. But there is hardly any country which does not keep its police fully equipped, or which would send its soldiers to war without weapons and ammunition. There can be monies for the luxuries of the bosses and to equip the body of armed men they keep for our repression. But not for stocking adequate supplies of PPE.
The pandemic has ignited a global economic crisis of explosive proportions, which was waiting to happen. Several countries had slide into repression at the end of 2019. Now a world recession is looming like never before. And the Nigerian economy is entering its worst recession in four decades.
Already, the bosses have started the attacks on working-class people. Workers are being laid off, wages are being cut for those who still have a job and credit for small-scale informal economy operators is drying up. China, whose economic machine helped to restart the global economy a bit after the 2007-2009 recession is not in a position to do so now. It has taken a hard hit with the pandemic, making it to severely curtail production.
Rising insecurity in Nigeria partly reflects the underlying sense of hopelessness and desperation which has seized millions of youths. Many of these have turned to some of the most reactionary ideologies or crime, leading them to guns and machetes which they use to rob, kidnap, and kill with abandon.
This is however not a time to cry. It is a time to build the power of the working-class from below. This is the time to organise, mobilise and agitate for revolutionary transformation of society. The trade unions, progressive youths, civil society organisations and revolutionaries must build our forces to unite and fight.
That is why SWL has played a pivotal role, with other organisations of the working people, in forging such united fronts as the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), the Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) and the Joint Action Front (JAF). The struggles ahead will be rough, but we will triumph and beat the bosses with our unity and determination.
Join us today, and together let us fight the good fight for revolution, for socialism. Join us to organise, mobilise and agitate in the ranks of working-class people. For in the hands of the workers is placed a power greater than the hoarded gold of the bosses. We are many and they are few. And we, workers – with our sweat and toil – keep society running. All we have to do is seize that which we have made, but which the bosses appropriate.
Let us unite and fight! As we dare to struggle, we dare to win!!