By Gbenga Komolafe
Being text of the Press Conference Addressed by Comrade Gbenga Komolafe, Co Convener, Coalition for Revolution CORE, September 30, 2020, Lagos, Nigeria.
In a few hours, Nigeria will be 60 years old. Nigeria as a product of a ruthless British imperial enterprise, and a genocidal Trans – Atlantic and Trans – Saharan slave trade has been bleeding relentlessly for over 400 years now.
Apart from the millions of people that were carted away to create the wealth that makes Europe and America thick today from the shores of this country, Nigeria has remained a major source of transfer of humongous wealth to the West since flag independence in 1960. According to the Oxfam International in a report on Nigeria, a total of US$20 trillion between 1960 and 2005 has been stolen and illegally transferred to the West.
That is more than enough money to transform every lever of human development, provide twenty first century physical and social infrastructures and provide all the material basis for the upliftment of all of our people.
Since 1960, we have been subjected to an endless cycle of civilian and military rulers whose perception of public service is to kill, steal and destroy the aspiration of all Nigerians for good education, modern healthcare systems that confidently explore and utilize indigenous knowledge of physical and mental well being of the people and provide opportunities for the flowering of all the indices of a fair, ecologically balanced, technologically driven and sustainable nation.
Particularly in the past twenty years, a suffocating plutocracy has evolved that provide space for the most vicious, prebendal, clientelist, patronage driven political system that constantly destabilizes the basic fabric of society.
Every available resource is appropriated and channeled for occupying public office by a venal political class constantly throwing the country into turmoil through violent, heavily corrupted and monetized electoral process.
All we have to show today are a despoiled social space with low intensity wars in large swathes of the Northern parts of the country and relentless irredentist agitation movements feeding on millions of disoriented young people whose hope for inclusive citizenship in their fatherland have been persistently dashed.
It is in this vein that the Coalition for Revolution (CORE) has evolved to raise fundamental and foundational issues about the needless suffering of our people, the exponential increase in the number of extreme poor people to over 100 million people today, the shambolic, degraded and run – down condition of healthcare and education infrastructures without basic facilities.
Now schools are being reopened without provision of more class rooms, more teachers, potable water and even toilets, raising fears of possible escalation of the Covid-19 virus among children resuming school. While public schools, colleges and universities have been abandoned, it is on record that the few rich elites spend over US$2 billion yearly on foreign education for their children while just about 500 of them spend at least US$12 billion on medical tourism annually!
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, on behalf of million of members of he component organizations of the CORE, I hereby present the CORE programme for the total liberation of our people from the shackles of relentless oppression, misrule, violence and unacceptable economic inequality.
Gbenga Komolafe, Secretary General Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria, FIWON), is the Co Convener, Coalition for Revolution CORE.
Calition for Revolution (CORE)
Charter for Total Liberation
Whereas Nigeria is a rich country, we, the masses are poor. Living standards have become progressively worse over the last four decades due to anti-poor policies of the elites which have led to increasing poverty for workers in the formal and informal economy as well as poor farmers in the rural areas. Nigeria has become the country with the largest number of poor people in the world;
Whereas public education and healthcare services have been neglected and underfunded denying the poor and our children quality lives, we can see the few rich elites spending over US$2 billion yearly on foreign education for their children and just about 500 of them spend at least US$12 billion on medical tourism annually;
Whereas physical infrastructures such as roads, rail and air travel infrastructures and public utilities such as electricity, potable water, basic sanitation infrastructures have all been mismanaged and rendered largely useless and unfit for use;
Whereas most people work and live in terrible housing and working conditions, with millions living in shanties or ‘face-me-I-face-you’ rooms in informal settlements, as a direct result of lack of tangible investment in social housing which has resulted in an estimated housing deficit of more than 17 million;
Whereas the Coronavirus pandemic has further revealed social and economic inequalities in the country with a large number of deaths resulting from the terrible healthcare system, appalling housing and sanitation conditions as well as the draconian actions taken by the Nigerian state in the name of containing the pandemic, poor people’s need for universal social protection cannot be overemphasized;
Whereas the seemingly endless, fatal ethnic and religious conflicts which the elites always provoke to fight their intra-class wars and divide the poor people, and noting that the divisions they exploit were defined by centuries of history which included slave trades across the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the divide and rule politics of British colonialism;
Whereas the elites fan the embers of conflicts based on constructed ethnic division, they have engaged in collective stealing of the country’s resources up to the tune of documented US$20 trillion between 1960 and 2005. Mass corruption has ensured that the elite continue to live in extreme wealth while the rest of Nigerians live in abject poverty. While ethnic and religious tensions are flamed, the greed of the elite knows no class, ethnic or religious boundaries but rather cuts across all religions and nationalities from the North, East, West and South of Nigeria;
Noting that public office holders award themselves the highest levels of salaries and allowances in the world with federal lawmakers collecting an annual salary of US$118,000, equivalent to 144 times the national minimum wage and painfully realizing that the high cost of institutionalized corruption and running of government reflected in excessive support staff for politicians, arbitrary increase in the number of government agencies and committees, hidden allowances and oversized retirement packages consume public funds that could be used to provide social services for the poor masses;
Realizing that conditions of work and quality of life of workers, artisans and poor people in the urban and rural areas have sharply deteriorated with implementation of privatization and deregulation which are simply means for the continuous looting of our collective resources, with closures of hundreds of companies, massive retrenchments of tens of thousands of workers, casualization of labour and unprecedented growth of precarious work in the informal economy;
Concerned about the systemic oppression of women which is reflected economically in feminization of the worst forms of poverty, politically in the low levels of women’s involvement of in decision-making(even in working-class organisations like trade unions and socialist parties) and culturally with practices, such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), harmful widowhood practices, forced marriages, early marriages, physical and emotional abuse by husbands and other males which are taken for granted. Bothered by increasing incidence of sexual harassment at home and workplace and femicide (killing of women),
Proudly conscious of the long and rich tradition of the masses in resistance to the slave trade, British colonialism, military dictatorship and unending exploitation of working people, by our forebears in the working class movements; the trade unions, the student and youth movement, the women, minority nationalities’ movement, the revolutionary intelligentsia and radical professionals;
We, Nigerians drawn from all ethnic nationalities, religious and cultural orientations, gender classifications and age differentiation, hereby give unto ourselves the following Charter as a guide to our actions geared towards establishing a progressive, socially just, economically equitable, and ecologically sustainable socialist society under the banner of the Coalition for Revolution (CORE), thus:
- Free and qualitative healthcare, education, and housing for all
- Budgetary prioritisation shall be for social services including healthcare, education, housing, water, and sanitation as fundamental human rights.
- Universal access to public healthcare (including consultation, diagnostic tests, surgery, therapies, medications); free at the point of service delivery, for all.
- A comprehensive, high quality primary health care system to promote preventive health and all-round wellness of all.
- The inclusion and development of African traditional medicine and the training and support of research to enhance and expand access and professionalization of traditional medicine as well as support of local development of pharmacological products.
- Ban all public elected and senior administrative officers and their families from embarking on foreign medical trips or use of local private health facilities; all elected and appointed officials must use the public health system.
- Free and qualitative education in all public institutions from basic to tertiary levels.
- Ban all elected, appointed, or senior administrative public officers from sending their children to school overseas or in private schools locally.
- Ensure the flourishing of democratic students’ unionism in all tertiary institutions and the immediate reinstatement of all student leaders unjustly rusticated or expelled.
- Effective participation of secondary and tertiary institutions’ students in the governance, disciplinary processes, and curriculum management of their schools and the education sector through their democratically elected representatives.
- Undertake a massive programme of public and social housing development to provide decent, secure, and affordable housing for poor people in the urban centres and rural areas.
- Provide land, building materials, and loan securitisation for non-profit building societies and cooperatives undertaking housing projects.
- Guarantee owner-occupier rights for tenants in housing projects provided by government, building societies, or cooperatives and put rent control mechanisms in place for privately provided housing to safeguard poor people’s right to decent and affordable housing.
- Upgrade informal settlements such as slums that are unfit for human habitation with methods and arrangements which include their inhabitants in developing alternative housing while minimising permanent or long-term human displacement and social dislocation; all demolitions and forced evictions will be stopped.
- Living wages and decent work
- The national minimum wage shall be a living wage. Salaries and pensions will be based on a sliding scale with the cost of living index and thus automatically adjusted to ensure a worker’s take home pay is adequate to fulfil her/his needs for a decent and dignified life.
- All outstanding salaries and pensions are paid with immediate effect and henceforth, no worker or pensioner will be denied full payment of his/her wages or pensions every month.
- Eradicate casualisation of employment and labour relations, implement the Decent Work Agenda in all workplaces and ensure all international labour covenants which protect the worker are upheld, including the right of every worker to join the union.
- Make sure trade unions are fully involved in running the workplace and that they are accountable to the rank and file members they represent.
- An economy that works for the people
- End and reverse all privatisation of public utilities and enterprises; takeover of the commanding heights of the economy to be democratically managed under the control of working-class people.
- Stop corporations and governments dispossession of farmers’ lands; return all such lands to the peasant/small-scale farmers, encourage them to form farming cooperatives that will be supported with agricultural inputs and extension services, ensuring the protection of the land and sustainable practices that are climate aware and not harmful to the well-being of farmers.
- Put in place an industrialisation policy to expand productive capacities and our collective wealth, which is based on sustainable development models that promote balance between economic, social, and environmental concerns and bridge developmental gaps between the urban and rural areas.
- Ensure production is based on sustainability of the life and wellbeing of the people and the earth, and not for profit; create climate jobs, and integrate environmental justice in economic planning.
- Development of cooperatives and not-for-profit enterprises in all aspects of the economy, including the informal sector.
- Place all natural resources in the hands of the masses and their communities; abolition of all laws and practices which place land in the hands of traditional leaders and landlord families; cancellation of all joint venture agreements with international oil companies, which they have been using to exploit us in collaboration with local elites.
- Make sure that the financial books of all enterprises are open and accessible to everybody to ensure full transparency and accountability to the masses.
- Transforming the Informal Economy
- Provide state-guaranteed credit facilities for informal sector producers engaged in cooperative production and for others who are themselves directly engaged in the labour process, who engage not more than four paid workers in that process, and whose yearly income is not more than that of a skilled wage worker.
- State supported Technical and Vocational Education for training and retraining of informal workers, which equips them with modern 21st century skills and technologies.
- State regulated access to public space under democratic control and management of the workers, urban planners, and other relevant stakeholders.
- Extension of social protection services such as maternal care and support, disability care and support, care of the elderly and support to those working in the informal sector.
- The State will provide for a framework of informal sector elected representatives to engage regularly in collective negotiation and bargaining with Local Government Councils, and relevant states and federal governments’ agencies and departments to resolve issues around licensing, accessing public spaces, environmental sanitation, provision of child care for informal workers, maternity and paternity leave, relevant training including fire – fighting skills and other important services.
- An effective and democratic end to insecurity
- The physical, food and economic security of all shall be guaranteed with the concerted efforts of working people; no one can liberate us, we must be our own liberators and defend our self-emancipation.
- Everybody who has a right to vote shall be equipped with military training and thereafter serve on a rotational basis in the people’s defence bodies that will be established as organs of working-class power in all communities.
- The regular military as it is will be reconstituted in the short-term; the rank and file will have the right to unionise and their unions will be consulted in the appointment of officers.
- Military troops not in active deployment shall be engaged, under control of democratic organs of the people, in a diversity of civil operations, including community development, agriculture services, infrastructure development, disaster relief, etc.
- Transforming Gender Relations
- Enact laws, policies and programs that will eliminate oppressive cultural practices including genital mutilation, disinheritance of women, demeaning widowhood rites, child marriages and sexual exploitation.
- Affirmative Action programs to empower women and support their participation in the social, economic, and cultural life of the country.
- Ensure equal pay for irrespective of gender and abolish all tax practices that discriminate against women.
- Establish childcare in workplaces and support for working women with children to avoid situations of having to choose between being a mother or a worker.
- Establish paid maternity for 12 months for all women and 2 weeks of paid paternity leave for all men, regardless of whether they work in the formal or informal economy.
- Establish a childcare support allocation for all children under the age of 5, to be paid to their mothers regardless of status.
- Strictly implement laws against gender-based violence and put in place policies and protocols for addressing sexual harassment in all forms, the implementation of which shall be carried out by committees in workplaces and communities which have a majority of women as members.
- Ensure that all states pass federally signed laws such as the Child Rights Act and the application of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); ratify and implement all international conventions that promote women’s rights and gender equity.
- Promote reproductive rights, including unrestricted right to safe abortion. Provision of contraceptives, including femidoms and birth control pills will be promoted as public health measure to empower women.
- Guarantee every citizen’s rights to the control of their bodies and expression of their sexuality.
- Environmental justice and the protection
- The neoliberalist conception of development as industrialization via privatization and opening up of the markets for external exploitation will be replaced with a people’s centered and environmentally sustainable path to development which protects people and the environment above profit.
- Gas flaring will be banned, and multinational corporations compelled to clean up all existing oil spills with stiff penalties set for any further oil spill.
- Measures will be taken to ensure clean air; activities generating air pollution will be stiffly regulated, including with the introduction of pollution fees, towards their eradication.
- Environmentally friendly mass public transportation schemes will be put in place, including metrolines in major cities to minimize the use of private means of transportation like cars.
- Steps to protect biodiversity will be taken; bans on the hunting of endangered species will be placed and strictly enforced; restrictions will be placed on economic activities which lead to deforestation.
- A comprehensive plan to reverse climate change and reach zero carbon emission will be put in place with specific measures to restore the rainforest and other protected lands that have been decimated by companies bent on environmental degradation for profit.
- Massive environmental awareness campaigns will be organized and strong research-to-policy and policy-to-action linkages for promoting environmental protection established.
- Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) will be conducted and made publicly accessible before the implementation of any major developmental policies, plans, programmes or projects of individuals, companies and governments with summaries of these EIAs in clear and simple language that will be understood by the average citizen.
- Empowering Youth
- careful investment in public works, industrialization, agriculture and its value chains, massive infrastructural development to tackle youth unemployment with appropriate programs of training and retraining as the economy modernizes.
- Restructure the Ministry of Youth Affairs to ensure that the resources of the ministry are meeting the critical needs of the majority of young people.
- Restructuring of the National Youth Service Corps to include secondary school graduates in an appropriate similar scheme.
- Massive investment in sports and physical culture to provide full expression and recreational outlets for our youth.
- Promote political education and involvement of youth in decision-making in their communities, schools, workplaces, and government.
- Restructure learning for out of school youths to enable all youth who have missed schooling opportunities to further their education; appropriate certificates for out of school learning and young adult education shall be designed.
- Social justice, equity, and liberty
- Stamp out corruption to ensure equality of opportunity; all those who have stolen public funds will be prosecuted and made to pay back what has been stolen. Nepotism, partiality, and favouritism in accessing public services or wealth will be eradicated.
- Abolition of all politicians’ huge emoluments; no elected or appointed official will earn more than the average salary of a skilled official in the civil service; the current pensions for governors, lawmakers and all other politicians after serving for just four or eight years will be cancelled.
- All elected and appointed officials must publicly declare their assets on taking office and publicly disclose their financial situation annually to ensure due probity.
- A steep progressive tax system will be instituted and the rich persons and corporations made to pay their fair share to ensure a fair society is established; all tax breaks and holidays will be cancelled and double taxation treaties which enable profit shifting abolished.
- All political prisoners will be immediately released and all forms of persecution of people based on their political, religious beliefs or their ethnicity will be halted.
- No citizen will be discriminated against on the basis of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, age or “state of origin”; every law which derogates from this right will be abrogated and all practices which fosters such discrimination will be combated with mass political education.
- All legal and policy restrictions on the affiliation of labour unions with political parties and on the use of labour union funds to finance the activities of political parties will be lifted.
- the Senate and House of Representatives will be abolished and a single chamber national assembly of the people’s delegates will be established, which genuinely represent the masses and whose members fully answerable to the people’s grassroots assemblies and committees.
- Every citizen will be guaranteed the right to internet access, to fully enjoy their freedom of expression and opinion. The data security and privacy rights of all will be protected from undue state surveillance and unsolicited for-profit interests.
- With broadband made available to everybody in both urban centres and rural areas, massive literacy and education programmes will be carried out for children, youth and adults to ensure 100% literacy rate and a population with the needed critical thinking for winning and consolidating democracy from below.
- Instituting working people’s Rule of Law
- A people-led process involving open discussion, debate, and determination of proposals and suggestions by the working people in urban and rural areas, in factories, on farms, in the Diaspora, on school campuses, in neighbourhoods, market places, workplaces, mass media, social media, etc will be put forward for adoption as the Constitution through a referendum.
- The working-class people’s state that will be established will be based on a rule of law which does away with arbitrariness, personality cults and which promotes the democratic settlement of disputes, mediation of differences, and metes out sanctions for conduct harmful to the wellbeing of the working masses. It will provide the necessary mechanism and legal frameworks needed for fulfilling the collective, aspirations and decisions of the people.
- Promotion of the new form of state, based on the self-liberated masses’ rule of law will include the framing of laws as the genuine will of the 99% through inclusive consultations, deliberations and processes which reflect both working-class unity and diversities, and in simple, accessible language while the judicial process itself will be de-bureaucratized, democratized and stripped of ambiguities.
- The prison system will be reformed as part of a wider judicial reform aimed at decongesting prisons and making them humane. The human rights of incarcerated persons will be respected, and prisons enabled to equip people with the social wherewithal to be better citizens, towards abolition of the system. Restorative justice will be pursued, juvenile detention centres closed, solitary confinement ended, and the death penalty abolished.
- The rampant incidence of unjust incarceration shall be addressed by releasing all such illegitimately imprisoned persons will be a priority. Arbitrary arrests and torture will be halted and agencies notorious for such acts such as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the State Security Service (SSS) will be disbanded. Compensation shall be paid to all citizens and families of citizens who have been wrongfully imprisoned or murdered.
- The National Question
- All the cultures and languages in Nigeria will be encouraged to blossom, through well-articulated political education, which pay close attention to disappearing languages of minority ethnic groups towards their proper study and development.
- A working people’s federalist state structure will be promoted, which decentralizes political authority without compromising merit, competence, and capacity.
- The right to full cultural and political expression of ethnic nationalities including the right to secession shall be recognized under well laid down procedures devoid of manipulations and subject to referendum among the people concerned.
- Separation along the lines of “indigene” versus “settler” by whatsoever means in law shall be repealed. And practices which entrench this will be discontinued through persuasion. Every citizen shall have equal rights as a citizen in any state of the federation.
- International Relations
- Promote international relations based on fostering the global struggle and solidarity of working-class people to win the total liberation of the exploited and oppressed people across the length and breadth of the world.
- Foster Pan-Africanist unity of the poor masses on the African continent, towards ensuring genuine, equitable social transformation of Africa and to create a safe haven and a source of hope and encouragement for Africans in the Diaspora.
- Create a plan to address the legacy of slavery and the reparation of our African descendent sisters and brothers globally through creation of a path to citizenship and a reparations scheme for them to return and live on the land.
- Promote African culture in all its rich diversity which enhances the rights and development of the long marginalized poor masses on the continent.
- Advocate for declaration of a global emergency on the climate and ecological crisis, to inform adequate and urgent action by all governments.
promote solidarity and mutual assistance with progressive social and political movements all over Africa, Asia, the Americas and rest of the world in the true tradition of working people mutual support and solidarity.
The Coalition for Revolution (CORE) will campaign for #RevolutionNow for the implementation of this Charter by the working people and youth in Nigeria. We will work with all working people’s and civil society organisations who share similar commitment of struggle and the goal of total liberation of the masses. The revolution in Nigeria is part and parcel of the struggle of masses and youth across the world against the 1% of super-rich and will triumph as part of the waves of the working masses marching from resistance to global revolution. We shall thus stand by all working-class people and youth anywhere and everywhere in the world fighting against the evil exploitative system of capitalism and call on working people of all lands to stand in solidarity with us in our struggle.