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Pro-Nigeria Labour Congress civil society organization release statement on Sovereign National Conference

JAF’S POSITION ON THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE

PRESS STATEMENT

SYSTEM CHANGE IS THE WAY FORWARD!
1. The Joint Action Front (JAF) held a Special Discussion Session on Sunday, March 11th 2012 in Lagos, to appraise the State of the Nigeria nation-state with special focus on the current desperate call by ignoble politicians, military apologists, government fronts and agents, imperialist lackeys, and failures and looters in-and-out of government (of the past three decades) alike calling for either National Dialogue (ND), National Conference (NC) or Sovereign National Conference (SNC).
2. The Session resolved that JAF is not opposed to Dialogue or National Conference or Sovereign National Conference or by whatever name it is called; but such a Conference should not be at the instance of the same members of the ruling cabal and their new recruits who suddenly become “champions of National Dialogue”.
3. The Session however, acknowledged that in the current call for ND, NC or SNC, there are few patriots who are genuinely committed to the resolution of the crises in the Nigerian polity through social dialogue. But the concern of JAF is that majority of those calling for the ND, NC or SNC are members and fronts of the ruling cabal and political parties who want to re-negotiate among themselves the conditions under which they will continue to enjoy their privileges while keeping the majority of the people poor and powerless.
4. The Session noted that the Mass Protest of January 9th – 16th 2012 protest against the wicked imposition of a high price for petrol, in which Nigerians overwhelmingly supported the call by the Joint Action Front (JAF) and its labour allies – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) – was unprecedented as it cut across ethnic and religious boundaries, and put a lie to the use of religion and ethnicity by successive regimes and their cohorts to engender the perennial violence and insecurity in the country.
5. The Session observed that the failure by the ruling cabal and office holders at the three levels of government and their collaborating political jobbers to deliver on electoral promises and ensure responsible governance, has been responsible for the political instability, ethnic and religious suspicion and violence, and the insecurity of life and property being daily aggravated by the perpetration of condemnable violence by such groups as the Boko Haram, MEND and Amnesty palliatives-excluded Niger Delta militants, ethnic militias and other yet-identified groups who have turned the country into a theatre of bombing, kidnapping, hostage taking, sophisticated armed robbery and gang warfare.
6. The Session noted that the popular expression of the Nigerian working people and the poor is that the current neo-liberal order of privatisation and deregulation with its attendant failure to deliver on education, health, employment opportunities, social welfare, infrastructure, etc have made life unbearable to the people
7. The Session urged Nigerians to be wary of the current forces in the mainstream of the National Dialogue or Sovereign National Conference (SNC) because they are not on the side of the working people and the poor. The Governors and their fronts that are now dissolving into ethnic platforms of North, South, East and West to demand a Conference and review of revenue allocation, are the same forces that conspired with the Federal Government to imposed hike in fuel prices, increase in electricity tariffs and other untold hardships on Nigerians. It is not enough to talk about “Political restructuring and Revenue Derivation”, Nigerians should in particular, be concerned with: what use has the current office holders made of the allocation they receive monthly?
8. The Session resolved that genuine unity of Nigerians despite the diverse ethnic and religious differences is possible; and this can be attained by a Conference that is led by patriots and pro-working people and the poor organisations and its agenda is anchored on the ECONOMY AND GOVERNANCE.
9. The Session commends to Nigerians that if a Conference becomes inevitable to address the national question and resolve the decades of political and economic decadence; it should be a Conference of the Exploited and Oppressed Working people and the poor who have genuine reasons for their anger and frustration against the existing ruling cabal, whose callousness and inimical policies have been responsible for the decades of injustice, dehumanisation, poverty and wants, ethnic and minority marginalization and hatred, bad governance, looting and sharp corrupt practices, underdevelopment, subservient to foreign political and economic dictates, etc.
10. The Session agreed that the major task before JAF is the UNITY of the social forces across the country on a NATIONAL AGENDA to redeem the country from the present class of looters and profiteers who are located in every ethnic and religious group.
11. JAF therefore calls on all patriots and organisations of the working people and the poor that are truly committed to the socio-economic emancipation of Nigerians to SHAME the current advocates of National Conference; but instead, join forces together as was done in the January 2012 protest to provide leadership in the quest for a new Nigeria that should ensure that the country’s wealth is judiciously used to benefit all Nigerians, irrespective of sex, age, ethnic or religious differences. At the same time, Nigerians should be prepared to continue to struggle against all anti-poor capitalist neo-liberal policies of governments at all levels and for defence of democratic and economic rights of the working people.
12. SYSTEM CHANGE IS WHAT NIGERIANS MUST FOCUS ON!
· JAF has reiterated after the January protest, that what Nigerians want as clearly expressed on January 9th – 16th is a SYSTEM THAT IS JUST AND WORKS FOR THE BENEFITS OF ALL.
· Towards this end, JAF will in the next few weeks unfold a NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN to bring together all social forces genuinely committed to the socio-economic transformation of Nigeria towards building a mass-based political platform that can rescue power from the present wicked and corrupt ruling cabals.

Comrade ABIODUN AREMU
JAF Secretary

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