ON THE RISING COST OF LIVING & INFLATION
WHAT WAY FORWARD FOR THE WORKING CLASS?
By Bestman Michael
The Nigerian socio-economic landscape, in recent months, has been a compendium of gross drama. Somewhere, someone is beheaded, burnt, or left in their blood— a murdered congregation; a bichrome of grief & misbeliefs, pain, and repressed laughter: Nigeria is collapsing. And amidst these sad theatrics of a country, the cost of living and inflationary rate remain high under this backdrop of capitalist madness, everywhere.
According to the World Bank Report, entitled “The Continuing Urgency of Business Unusual”, it was estimated that over 15 million Nigerians are living in poverty between 2020 & 2022. From the report, the World Bank had projected an increase in inflation at 15.5% in 2022. But, surprisingly, in May, the rate had risen to 17.71%, if not more when evaluated at a state level.
However, the import of these statistics is simple: it means that with the constant rise in the price of commodities, cost of living, and other necessities, the workers will have to pay through their noses to survive the economic catastrophe that they have been plunged into by the failure of the ruling elites to fundamentally act any different from their forebears, to wield power as a means of meeting the needs and aspiration of the working people as oppose the primitive pursuit of accumulation of the wealth of the country for their luxurious living.
Sadly, comfortability under this system of profit is classed. It means the vast majority of working people will continue to live below the poverty line. Now, the price of sachet water is ₦20 and according to Business Day, 16 June 2022, food inflation had increased to 19.50% in the last eight months. In fact, with the rising insecurity and killings in the country, it is clear that the food crisis will further worsen. Most working-class homes can hardly afford a standard three-square meal. Hunger is bound to escalate.
As time goes by, the unproductive ruling elites will begin plans to retrench workers, resulting in to increase in unemployment. And a bunch of working-class youth will be left to fend for these disasters. The minimum wage is barely paid or increased, despite these economic conditions. Nor are the trade unions, the NLC and the TUC coming forward anytime soon with a demand for a new minimum wage. Not when they have failed to consistently take on the state governments who have failed to implement the last agreed minimum wage.
There is too much striving to survive. In the end, everything falls into a pit of depression, suicide, and social and domestic violence. People kill people to live. Death becomes mutual and the once known humaneness has been replaced by a wine of chaos caused by a demented ruling capitalist class who are never ready to develop society to meet the needs and demands of the vast majority.
From here, it is clear to say that the high cost of living and the inflationary rate is not far-fetched: there is a government soaked under neoliberal policies geared at making an excess profit as against needs. Almost every national sector of the economy has been privatised or commercialised.
Gradually, the Nigerian industries are collapsing, if not collapsed, as we tend towards importation and debt servicing. The fuel pump price is likely to increase which will also hurt transport, cost of production, and so on. Yet, here is a government not ready to fund education or the health sector to make it accessible to the vast majority. Sadly, the adverse effect of this surge in inflation may affect access to quality healthcare. Even the prices of drugs have increased. And where there are so many private hospitals, with little or no infrastructure, the poor should not expect to live longer. Not to mention the fact all sectors of the economy are in the same worst ever dismal state.
However, inflation is a necessity for the capitalist system to keep itself in existence at the very expense of the working people, to keep it afloat and ensure that the capitalist class of bourgeoisie do not have to pay or lose anything for the failure of their system. Capitalism: as a system, survives entombing itself in a cobweb of interconnecting crises. Hence, the working class should not be deceived. The crisis is a consequence of the philosophical dominance of private capital and the mad quest for profit by all means.
While members of the ruling class pay themselves jumbo pay and allowances, even despite the clear fact of their failure at governance and mismanagement of the country’s resources. The masses are told there is no money in the country and that they should tighten their belt further and make more sacrifices in the face of bare face hunger in the land. The reverse is the truth; the country is stupendously rich, if not how do you explain the fact that members of the ruling class were willing to pay for the presidential’ forms of the ruling APC party at 100 Million Naira, PDP at N40 Million? Sadly, these people are not industrialists.
That’s an indication that power is the only existing means by which the ruling class enrich themselves. Hence, the only solution to the incessant increase in prices is for the working people to organise themselves politically and bring to being an independent political platform of their own that would enshrine socialism in its banner, and seek to dislodge the ruling class from power. With power in the hands of the working people, they can begin to reorganize society, develop the means of production, and use the wealth of the country to meet the needs and aspirations of the working people, having ended the capitalist system and its greed for profit.
This is the only way by which two things would be resolved: needs and collective growth. Socialism remains the only alternative available to the working class as though it their rights are fully accessed.