Wednesday, 16 May 2018

GOVERNMENT RENEWED ONSLAUGHT ON DRUG ABUSE



  • SPN SUPPORTS MEASURES AGAINST ROGUE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES AND DRUG MERCHANTS BUT WARNS AGAINST TURNING THE WAR ON DRUG TO A WAR ON YOUNG PEOPLE
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) Youth Wing supports all measures against rogue pharmaceutical companies, chemist shops and crooked drug merchants and gangs responsible for the prevalent drug epidemic in the country but we warn against turning the war on drugs to a war on young people.

 We make this warning conscious of the fact that previous onslaught on marijuana use have always been turned into an opportunity by corrupt police, NAFDAC, NDLEA and security officials to stigmatize young people, arrest people at will and slam them into detention only to gain their freedom after paying bribes.

Already illegal police raids in poor communities are causing almost daily deaths of young people across the country. Many of these young people are arrested or shot by corrupt police and security officials just for walking at a particular hour, for dressing in a certain way or for refusing to give a bribe. This happens while the real criminals walk free. The Offa robbery and how police reportedly took a bribe of N400, 000 from the armed-robbers days before they unleashed mayhem is a clear testimony to how these so-called raids are not meant to catch criminals but instead to make income for corrupt police officials. Therefore, making the war on drugs to follow similar pattern of illegal police/NDLEA raids, stigmatization and arrest at will without regard for human rights will only worsen the already tense situation in poor communities and might even provoke riots and violent reprisals.

To be clear, the President Buhari capitalist government as well as previous anti-poor government are all responsible for the growing menace of drug usage and addiction by young people. Their anti-poor capitalist policies which have deepened inequality and made public education and good jobs inaccessible for the majority as well as the profit-motive of pharmaceutical companies and rogues are the driving forces behind the drug menace and other social crises like prostitution, gangs and crimes.

 Today, young people are more anxious, hopeless and uncertain about their future. A lot of working class and poor families are breaking apart following sudden loss of income by parents arising either from retrenchment, irregular payment of salary, demolition of markets and shops. Even when parents die from accidents or sickness, there are no provisions by the state to provide for children left behind. Such neglected children tend to find succor in drugs. The social crises will continue to get worse unless the working class, the youth and the poor rally round the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) to begin to struggle against these anti-poor policies that drives hopelessness and ultimately for the overthrow of the capitalist system.

 In the war on drugs, the government must be clear about who the enemies are. The enemies are the rogue pharmaceuticals, chemist shops, complicit officials of NAFDAC, NDLEA, Police, customs and other security agencies and criminal merchant networks who cooperate in vast concentric ring of cartels to ensure these dangerous drugs get to our streets. Young people are the victims and ought not to be criminalized.

 Therefore, instead of treating drug users and addicts as criminals, they ought to be treated as people who need assistance to drop a bad and potentially dangerous habit. This means adequately-funded and equipped rehabilitation centres and well trained personnel ought to be established in communities alongside a campaign involving government agencies, civil society, trade unions especially the unions in the education sector, youth groups and students unions to counter this growing scourge. It also means proper funding of public education and expansion of school facilities to get all young people of school-age back into school, good well-paying jobs for graduates and an end to inequality and grinding poverty. If 10.5 million school-age children continue to be out of school and tens of millions university graduates continue to go without jobs, the war against drugs cannot be won.

 In addition, the SPN supports sanction including heavy fines against pharmaceutical companies, chemist shops and any outlets found after thorough investigation to be connected to the illicit drug. We also support immediate arrest and prosecution of the criminal merchants of deaths responsible for selling these drugs in schools and communities.

 The alleged involvement of Emzor pharmaceutical Industry Ltd, Bioraj Pharmaceutical Ltd and Peace Standard Pharmaceutical Ltd in this illicit trade shows how profit trumps concern for people’s health. This is not just a local reality, actually it is an international phenomenon that big pharmaceutical companies are complicit in the drug trade.

 This is one of the main reasons we of the SPN hold that health related services like pharmaceuticals ought not to be left in the hands of private merchants who are primarily driven by profits and not any ethical and safety concerns. We demand a publicly-funded and run health sector including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies under the control and management of workers and the public in order to ensure that profit is not prioritized over safety and health.

Hassan Taiwo Soweto
National Youth Leader
07033697259

Saturday, 12 May 2018

OYO COUNCIL POLL: A Show of Shame and Stage-Managed Fraud!


SPN name and logo appeared on the ballot paper even when its candidate was denied a nomination form by OYSIEC

The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, Oyo State chapter, has described the May 12 council poll in Oyo State as a huge show of shame and stage-managed fraud. We demand that this charade and monumental fraud should be challenged by the mass of the people. As we earlier pointed out, the May 12, 2018 Local Government election is a nullity owing to the fact that it was conducted on the basis of OYSIEC created electoral areas in violation of section 148 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In addition, the crude manner the SPN candidate for Ibadan South West chairmanship position was denied nomination form in a deliberate effort to prevent genuine political alternative to be presented in the election only for SPN name and logo to appear in the ballot papers further confirms the monumental fraud the May 12 Local Government election is.

In this regard, we of the SPN hereby demand new and democratic Local Government elections conducted in accordance with the requirements of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and with fair opportunities for all parties and candidates including the SPN and its candidate. We call on all people of Oyo state who are equally disaffected with the illegality and fraud that took place on May 12 2018 in the name of elections to join us in the SPN to challenge this charade.

The turnout of the electorate in the election was reportedly so poor in most polling units especially in Ibadan and its environs.

In ward 4 polling unit 10 in Ibadan South West LGA for instance, only 10 people out of the 720 registered electorates were accredited and voted as at of 2:45pm when it was less than 25mins for the voting exercise itself to come to an end. This is just a glimpse of the poor turn-out that characterised the election. The apathy was said to be so high that, the APC agents were compelled according to a live radio report of the election on splash FM, 105.5, to be moving from house to house canvassing the electorate to come out to vote even while the election was on-going. This act is against the election  guideline which stipulates among other things that there must not be any form of campaign on the day of the election. At the same time, it shows that the level of mass disaffection among the working people with the capitalist political establishment in the state is very high.

The report also has it that only the APC agents were seen in most polling units. This is an indication that all other political parties the OYSIEC claimed  are participating in the election were actually mobilised by the APC through a pseudo platform tagged CNPP and IPAC to give an impression that the election itself is participatory. Except SPN which embarked on street to street campaign in Ibadan south west local government where its members were sponsored as candidates for the chairmanship and vice-chairmanship position before it had to pull out of the exercise, none of the other 11 political parties OYSIEC claimed are part of the election ever carried out any campaign during the pre-election period.
Obviously, both the OYSIEC and Oyo State APC-led government were threatened by the active involvement of SPN and its critical attitude towards all of the undemocratic conduct of OYSIEC. This explains why SPN candidate was denied nomination form by OYSIEC after being subjected to the rigour of a screening exercise during which he was certified eligible to stand as candidate in the election.

However, despite the fact that SPN candidate was denied  nomination form, the OYSIEC still went ahead to include both the name and logo of the SPN in the election ballot paper. This show that the denial was deliberate to prevent the SPN from being officially part of the election while the name and logo was decided to be included in the ballot paper with a view to use the name of the party to give a credibility to the election.

This is an electoral fraud committed by OYSIEC against our great party SPN. This is condemnable and further underscore the fact that the state electoral body will continue to be incapable to conduct a credible local government election as long as it continues to be an appendage of the state government and the ruling party.

To bring an end to this unfortunate situation explains why we of the SPN will continue to canvass for the democratisation of state and national electoral bodies  whose membership will be derived from the elected representatives of trade unions, youth and professional organisations, trade and artisan associations including the community associations like residents association.  Only elections conducted by electoral bodies with the above outlined membership and character that is are capable of conducting election that will reflect the true aspiration and expectation of the people either at the state or national level.


Friday, 11 May 2018

OYO MAY 12 COUNCIL POLL: OUR STORY AND STAND!

On May 10 the Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, Oyo State Chapter, held a press conference at the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) event centre, opposite Ibadan North-East LG secretariat, Dugbe, Ibadan to tell the whole world our story concerning the ongoing atmosphere of political confusion around the Council poll scheduled to hold on May 12, 2018 as well as our stand on whether the election should hold or not.

The background

On Friday, February 2, 2018 the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission, OYSIEC, through its Chairman, Mr John Ajeigbe, announced the decision of the Commission to conduct election into 33 local government areas (LGAs) and 35 local council development areas (LCDAs) on Saturday May 12, 2018. Following this announcement, the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), being a party known for consistent agitations for local government elections that will always allow people at the grassroots to democratically elect their representatives at local government council level, welcomed this development, in spite of our reservation about the undemocratic way and manner the commission arrived at the date of the election.
It is our opinion in the SPN that the Commission should have created an avenue for all the existing political parties in the state to participate in a prior discussion and democratic debate over various issues related to the election, particularly the question of what should be the attitude of the Commission towards the LCDA among others. Despite the fact that the OYSIEC refused to adopt this democratic approach, we of SPN still went ahead with the decision to participate in the election, even when most of the leading capitalist parties in the state boycotted the election out of the fear that the election would be manipulated in favour of candidates of the APC.
Yes, we are aware that election into the local government council is often manipulated in favour of the ruling party's candidates in all states in the country. This is usually so because the individuals that preside over the activities of the commission are often acolytes and political appointees of the ruling party itself. Nevertheless, we went ahead with the decision to participate in the election not because of any illusion that the election would be credible or free of manipulation but as we strongly believe that the election campaign will offer us an opportunity to reach out to as many as possible working people and youths with our socialist programme of an alternative way of running the society. This is with a view to win as many as possible persons who agree with this programme to the banner of our party.
Therefore, on April 5, 2018, we formally notified OYOSIEC the decision of our party to sponsor Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye, popularly known as Abbey Trotsky, to contest for the chairmanship position in Ibadan South-west local government area. Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye was subsequently invited by the Commission for screening on the April 9, 2018 after which he was certified to be eligible to stand as a candidate in the election.
Even though Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye is yet to be given a nomination form by the OYSIEC despite the certification of his eligibility to contest for the chairmanship position in Ibadan south-west local government area, SPN members have been campaigning from street to street in the local government area for comrade Abiodun Bamigboye (Abbey Trotsky) as Chairman and Ayodeji Adigun as Vice Chairman on a socialist programme - a cardinal aspect of which is to serve as a Chairman and Vice Chairman on a workers' wage. Over five thousand (5,000) copies of flier which articulates the programme of the SPN for the local government and how same will be implemented if elected have been circulated to members of the public while over 2,000 copies of posters have also been posted around the electoral wards that constitute the LGA.
It is very important to note that this is the first electoral outing of the SPN since its registration on January 15, 2018. Remarkably, our experience so far has once again confirmed the mass disaffection with the capitalist political establishment and a search for alternative party and program by the working people. Many who received our leaflet expressed support such that about 100 working people, largely in Ibadan South-west, have indicated interest to join our party.
It is in the midst of this tremendous progress while we are still expecting OYSIEC to give nomination form to our candidate that we received the news of the court order retraining OYSIEC from conducting the election scheduled for May 12, 2018.

Our Stand on the Court Order

Since Wednesday, May 2, 2018, there have been various exchanges of claims and counter-claims between the OYSIEC and an aggrieved faction of the APC over an interim order allegedly granted by Federal High Court 2 sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State to stop the May 12 council poll. According to media reports, the interim order implies that Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission, OYSIEC is restrained from going ahead with its plan to conduct the council poll on the basis of its newly created electoral areas outside the ones created by the INEC.
Going by this interim order it is obvious that it will be wrong for the OYSIEC to go on with the May 12, 2018 council election on the basis of the electoral wards created by OYSIEC itself. This is because the Constitution does not empower the OYSIEC to create electoral areas in which the LG election is meant to be held. Section 4 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) is so clear of the powers of the SIEC which is to organise, undertake and supervise all elections to local government councils within the state.
According to the Section 148, of the 1999 Constitution, only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is empowered with the responsibility of updating the voters register including the creation, delineation and adjustment of the electoral areas which must be made available to SEIC for the conduct of the election into local councils itself.
This shows that the electoral areas created by OYSIEC which were recently given to political parties, including our party, by OYSIEC are illegal and cannot be used to conduct the May 12 election especially that such electoral areas created are in conflict with the one created by INEC. In Ibadan South-West LGA for instance, the INEC recognised electoral areas in the LGA are divided into 12 electoral wards while the number of electoral wards given to our party by OYSIEC for the same LGA are 10.
However, whether the OYSIEC complies with the interim order or defies it, the fact remains that the capitalist politicians including the Oyo State Government are incapable of midwifing an electoral process that is just, equitable and democratic . Besides, the rancour among the major political gladiators in the ruling party in the state is never in the interest of the working masses who have always been short-changed by all bourgeois politicians irrespective of their parties

Political interest behind the court order and election

A glimpse of this tension was seen on Saturday, May 5, 2018 when the ruling party attempted to conduct its congress at ward level across the state. This congress which ended inconclusively reflects how leading members of the party were desperate in ensuring that their acolytes in the party emerge as party delegates at ward levels.
It is this same struggle between two different factions within the party over who has more control on the party delegates that will participate in the party primary election to elect the various party flag bearers for the 2019 general elections that formed the background for the exchange of claims and counter-claim that have trailed the issues of court order over whether or not May 12 election should hold.
This is because every political office holder who is elected on the platform of the party will be an automatic delegate for the party primary. What this implies is that if the election held today, all the elected chairmen and their Vice chairmen from the 33LGA and 35LCDA including the elected councillors from 610 electoral wards across the state will be automatic delegates for the party primary. Since all of these candidates are nominees of the Governor who is a leader of the SENACO, it will therefore mean that the governor will be having a huge delegate of 774 party members under his influence for the APC primary.
This implies that with this substantial figure of delegates, it will be difficult for any party member aspiring to contest under the banner of the party who is not in the Governor's faction to get the party ticket. It is obviously in the consideration of this huge threat to the prospect of members of the faction of the party called unity forum who may be interested to stand as candidate under the banner of the party to secure the party ticket that explains why some members of the unity forum in the Ibarapa local government areas went to court to secure an interim order to stop the OYSIEC from conducting the election. Even though this is under the pretense that the electoral areas the OYSIEC planned to use in conducting the election is different from the ones created and recognized by INEC.
It is also on the basis of similar self-serving interest that the Governor is equally insisting that the election will hold with or without the existence of any court order. Therefore, going by this background, it is obvious that the reason, the unity forum went to court to get the court order is not because they believe in any rule of law. Neither is the governor interested in conducting local government election that will reflect the wishes of the people.
As a matter of fact, the governor wouldn't mind the court to nullify the election after he might have used those who emerge through the said election to have achieved his self–serving political calculation.
However, while the entire motive behind the court order might be questionable, the fact remains that the veracity of the court order itself cannot be waved aside. It is in the consideration of this fact that, we of the SPN call on the OYSIEC to comply with the court order and refrain from going ahead with the May 12, 2018 local council election on the basis of the newly created electoral areas. Even if OYSIEC goes to court to set the order aside, we still hold that the commission is not capable of guaranteeing that the May 12 poll will not end up in an illegality given the fact that its decision to create new electoral areas is illegal and in violation of the constitution and, more importantly, because the commission has flagrantly refused to give our party's candidate a nomination form despite that he has been certified qualified to participate in the elections.
Even as we speak our party and its candidate are yet to given a copy of electoral areas recognised by INEC upon which the election is expected to be conducted. Neither has our candidate given a nomination form less than 48 hours to the election. Even if we get the nomination form, we do not have knowledge of polling units where the election is meant to hold.
It is in the light of this consideration that we of SPN publicly dissociate ourselves and the party from the May 12 poll because we believe it is going to be nothing other than a charade and its outcome a nullity. We however remain committed to promoting and defending the interest and aspiration of the working people of Oyo state nay Nigeria for a better society and decent quality of life.
Comrade Kolapo Oladapo
For SPN Oyo State