The poor masses across the country are fed up. Despite abundant wealth from our sweat and the abundance of resources on our lands, over 100m Nigerians are exceedingly poor and keep getting poorer. But a few people are getting richer. These are the politicians and big businessmen and women.
Despite Maj. Gen Buhari (retd) and the APC’s anti-corruption rhetoric, corruption has increased to its highest level since 2015. The Transparency International’s corruption index released in January confirms this. Billions of naira that should have been used to provide healthcare, education, housing, decent jobs, and security for the poor have been diverted into the pockets of vagabonds in power (VIPs).
Our lives have also become more insecure. Bandits have taken over the highways and our communities in every region, while insurgents continue to make life unbearable for poor people in the north-east. Kidnapping for ransom has become so common that people are losing count. Parents are now afraid to send their children to school, particularly in some northern states.
When we protest because of the pains and hardships we are saddled with, the police and other security forces are used to repress us. Many protesters were arrested in Kaduna in August, while demanding an end to the insecurity that has plagued their communities. Scores of unarmed young people were killed in October during the EndSARS protests.
Even when we speak as individuals on social media, they come after us. We all remember that several people were arrested last year simply for abusing incompetent government officials. These included a 70-year-old man!
Hundreds of RevolutionNow activists and other protesters were also arrested during peaceful demonstrations over the last six months. Dozens of them are standing trial in different states.
Emmanuel Akuma, a 29-year-old pharmacist who tweeted in anger against Buhari has been illegally detained for 10 months. His mother was among staff of the Nigeria Airways who were retired in 2002. Her terminal emoluments were never paid.
She died in 2017 after being sick for four years. The family “spent everything” they had, according to Emmanuel’s father. But this was not enough to cover her treatment costs.
Our poverty and the insecurity we face, as well as the elite’s corruption and repressive measures, are all linked together. The secret of our poverty lies in the enormous wealth of the handful of people who rule over us.
They exploit our labour which creates wealth, and with corruption they further rob us of the wealth generated from exploiting our lands natural resources. But exploitation and oppression breed resistance. And resistance lays the basis for revolts and revolution.
The bosses’ and their governments are afraid of revolution. They do not want us to seize power from them. That is why they do all they can to repress our protests and voices.
Rising criminality is a major driving force of insecurity across the country. It is largely due to poverty. On one hand, a lot of the gangs roaming around urban centres are unemployed youths who have lost hope.
On the other hand, poverty makes people predisposed to being used by different sections of the elites who arm and guide them to attack other defenceless poor people. The devil, as an old saying goes, finds work for idle hands.
Unfortunately, these criminal acts have been given ethnic colouration. The complex state of insecurity, which reflects the failure of the dog-eat-dog system of capitalism has been presented as a war by Fulani “killer herdsmen” against other peoples.
Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar observed that seven out of every ten kidnappers arrested are Fulani during a meeting with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in January. But he clearly misses the point when he reduces the problem to one of a few “bad” people. The problem is structural. But it is not so in the way those calling for “restructuring” see it.
For “restructurists”, the problem is along the lines of ethnic division. They want us to believe that if you take away people from other ethnic groups, and particularly the Fulani, we will all live happily ever after.
This is a false solution that will not solve anything. For revolutionary activists, the basic social and economic structures are those which make it possible for a few rich people to exploit the rest of us.
And the bosses do this together without “seeing” ethnic differences among themselves – in the boardrooms of corporations and national/state houses of assemblies, where they collectively take decisions and chop our money. In all regions of the country, the elites who oppress us are of the same ethnic stock as we are!
We must not let them divide us for their self-serving interests. Criminals of any ethnicity must be identified as such and dealt with. Working people must work together to do this, irrespective of ethnic differences, to do this successfully. Joint self-defence bodies need to be formed. We cannot rely on the police and military.
Our aim must be to smash the social and economic structures of exploitation as well as the political structure of power that they use to repress us. This means we must wage revolutionary struggle until the poor working masses win power from the elites and with that, we liberate ourselves.
With the popular power of the masses, we can stamp out poverty and insecurity, and together build a better society. Thus, as we fight to kick out the Buhari regime, we must never lose sight of the fact that we must go deeper. While regime change is our stand, system change must be our goal.
This means we must start building alternative structures to the structures of the current system. We must educate and mobilise the mass of working-class people and organise structures of struggle in our workplaces, on our campuses and in our communities.
We have had enough of this system which makes life hell on earth for us. We must take the fight back to the bosses. We are many and they are few. We have nothing to lose but our chains if we fight. We have a better society to win with revolutionary victory. We must now unite and fight!