A recent Africa Polling Institute survey shows that most Nigerians are “unhappy with the state of affairs” in the country under the reign of Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari and his APC government. Only 10% of the poll’s respondents expressed satisfaction with the regime. This would undoubtedly include those who benefit from our suffering, like General Buhari and his hangers-on.
The result of this survey is not surprising at all. Life has become very hard for working-class people. It has become almost impossible for poor families to survive. The prices of basic foodstuffs, transportation, and house rents have risen through the roof.
Meanwhile, real wages (i.e., what you can actually buy with the wages you receive) have fallen. If things are this bad for those with jobs, you can imagine the state of affairs for the jobless. And the number of people without jobs remains mind-boggling.
According to a report of the National Bureau of Statistics in January, inflation rate in the country had risen to 15.63 by the end of the year. And the unemployment rate stood at 33.3%. But this is just part of the story.
The underemployment rate, which reflects people being grossly underpaid for jobs below their capacities or qualifications, was 22.8%. Added together, this means that 56.1% of the labor force are either jobless or just “managing” with any work which hardly puts food on their tables.
The situation with the youth is even worse. Outright youth unemployment stands at 42.5%, while youth underemployment is 21.0%. This means that two thirds of youths of working age are dying of lying fallow in the labor market, dying of hunger and disillusionment.
This explains the sharp rise in the rates of crime and violence, including “ritual killings” and other vile activities that have now become the order of the day. Almost daily, we read of such horrifying acts, across the country, in the newspapers.
According to the survey, youth unemployment and hopelessness further reinforce the heightened state of insecurity in the country, which is the leading cause of the people’s disenchantment with the regime.
Idle hands, as the saying goes the devil’s workshop. Kidnapping for ransom has now become a major “industry.” Armed robbery has become so commonplace that people don’t feel safe even in their homes. In the northeast, some of the fiercest bandits are teenagers. At the beginning of the year, more than 200 people were killed by bandits in just four days in Zamfara.
But it is not only the “official bandits” that have come to kill, steal and destroy. Four young men in their early twenties broke into working-class people’s homes in Kano to steal phones and other personal effects in January as well.
However, it must be stressed that this cancer of violent crimes is not limited to the northern region. About ten young men made a bold attempt to rob a bullion van at Ibadan in the second week of February. They killed four passers-by and three policemen.
Probably the most worrying dimension of these crimes is the rise in “ritual killings”. Young men (and in a few cases women too) under the illusion that they can make money with the blood of unsuspecting victims are literally painting red cities and towns across the country.
Sofiat Kehinde, a 20-year-old woman, was killed on 29 January by four men aged 18 and 20 years at the Oke Aregba area of Abeokuta in Ogun state for money ritual. Timothy Odeniyi, a 35-year-old man, was apprehended on 1 February in Ondo state as a supplier of human parts to ritualists in Lagos. He claimed to harvest these body parts from buried corpses.
Jennifer, who was a student at Unijos was also allegedly killed by 20-year-old Moses Oko for a similar purpose. Afeez Olalere, a “yahoo boy,” as well confessed to killing his own younger brother, also for money rituals.
In their usual tomfoolery, the House of Representatives has reacted to this bloody situation by passing a resolution to declare a national emergency on ritual killings in Nigeria on 8 February. Instead of accepting responsibility as part of the thieving ruling class in government whose failure opened this pandora’s box, they are laying the fault at the doorstep of the Nollywood movie industry.
They did not stop at that. Toby Okechukwu, the PDP member of parliament who moved the motion, added that:
While youths in other climes are embracing science and technology as a way of maintaining pace with our dynamic world, some of our youths seem stuck in the mistaken belief that sacrificing human blood is the surest route to wealth, safety, and protection.
He fails to note that two-thirds of the able-bodied youths, including many who studied science and technology, cannot find good jobs or even any job at all. He is less concerned that many more youths are dropping out of school because their parents cannot afford every increasing school fee, while children of the rich like him are enjoying the best of life and study in other climes or posh private schools.
The Buhari regime and indeed the ruling class as a whole have failed us. Their dog-eat-dog system is where a handful of people in power and big business rake billions of naira, which they cannot finish spending. In contrast, scores of millions of poor working-class people rot in penury have to be overthrown for us to bring an end to this blood-soaked moment in our history.
It is not enough for us to be fed up with current affairs. We must understand that we are in this state of calamity because the system which the Buhari regime represents is structured to benefit only those in power and with money. We must take a further step; we must fight to smash the system. It cannot be salvaged.
The revolutionary struggle to defeat the 1% of exploiters would include our making demands for steps that will help stem the tide of chaos that the society is descending into. We thus call for:
- The payment of unemployment benefits that can ensure a decent life for every unemployed person.
- A new national minimum wage that is a living wage, as even the current minimum wage cannot meet the needs of any worker.
- Resignation of all governors in states that have not yet started paying the miserly N30,000 minimum wage almost three years after it was enacted as law.
- Immediate payment of the minimum wages and consequential adjustments, with full arrears to workers in the ten states (Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Imo, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara) that are yet to pay the N30,000.
- Abolition of tuition fees in all public primary, secondary and tertiary schools, and the provision of quality public education as a right.
- Free and quality healthcare for all as a fundamental human right. An embargo on foreign medical trips and private healthcare for all elected and appointed public officials.
- Placing all elected officials in the states and federal legislative and elective bodies on the average salary of a worker.
- Establishment of working-people and youth committees in our workplaces, communities, and campuses to enforce implementation of these demands, and serve as popular bodes of the people’s revolutionary self-defense.
by Baba AYE