THE ECONOMIC SCORECARD
OF THE REGIME
NIGERIA: A COUNTRY AT THE PRECIPICE
The ruling-class or the working-class
to the rescue?
By Dagga Tolar
If anything is an indicator of the failure of the Buhari regime, it is in the area of food and agriculture, which demonstrate the utter ineptitude of the Buhari regime. Agriculture is in a worse state, both in the area of crop and herds production. A 50kg bag of rice is N27, 000, a bag of beans which was once N30, 000 in 2019 was N50, 000 is now N100, 000. All of the staple food items are now priced out of the reach of the working masses.
A lot of Mama Put outlets (Corner side restaurants) are closing shops unable to meet up with the high cost of food items, those still engaged in it, practically have no other choice than to keep at it to keep themselves busy, raking in loss after losses and inevitably closing down. From every street corner, we can count how many of these eating outlet patronized by the working masses have had to close down unable to meet with the high cost of keeping themselves afloat.
At no other time in the history of the country has inflation impacted heavily on food items, with workers alarmed by it on account that the food items are locally produced, oblivious of the fact that the economy in the end is a unit both of itself and in its many parts, interacting both dialectically and otherwise to be able to function for itself and for each of its single units.
Yet the economy is also factored by the polity, which in the end is what defines its micro and macro policy framework. It is this political dictation of neoliberal capitalist philosophy that puts profit making first over and above meeting the food needs of the working masses that has brought the current food crisis to the fore.
The Buhari regime has a means of promoting local production banned some food items from importation, without taking the necessary step to employ the wealth of the country and lead the initiative to not only demonstrate the possibility of self-sufficiency in all of these food items, this inevitably opened the flood gates for smugglers and custom officials who have employed the scarcity as a means of making millions from the smuggling of these items into the country to meet the huge demand of them, even with local sourced food items in some cases proving more expensive than the imported items, making the ban completely counterproductive.
A workers government anchored on a socialist programme free from the encumbrance of making profit and driven by the need to meet the welfare needs of the working masses would take the step of investing adequately in agriculture, both crop and herds, and ensure that large scale modern farms with all of the necessary equipment are put in place in all parts of the country in relation to the crop produced in the area.
This possibility can so be gleaned in the initiative of the then Ambode regime in Lagos, with the Kebbi state government (2015-2019), to produce what was tagged LAKE Rice. The initial success of the LAKE Rice initiative sold at half the price of other imported brands of rice, partly confirms the correctness of Marxist prognosis, that the state can employ the public funds of society as tools of investment to improve agriculture and indeed all sector of the economy, to meet the needs of the people.
And that the very logic of profit making as the driving force of neo liberal capitalist system is what is responsible for the crisis in agriculture and all other sectors of the economy.
The vastness of Nigeria, and all of the different possibilities in the area of agricultural produce demonstrates in a dialectic manner how the whole of the country is linked together and needs one another for their mutual survival, but yet this point is not stressed by the different wings of the ruling class who themselves do everything possible for the working masses to be divided against themselves.
At the very core of the dispute of the farmers and the clash with herders is the question of meat production and providing for the protein need, both for people in the north and south of the country. The growing desertification in the north with herders forced to move their cattle down south for grass grazing, resulting into clash with farmers, limited in the beginning to the Benue-Plateau axis, and Taraba, has now spread into the south.
The response of the Buhari regime has been to provide backhand support to the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, as oppose to insisting on the need for both farmers and herders to unite and confront their common problems of provision of funds, good road network and transport system that would allow for items to be easily moved from one part of the country to the other, and provision of the necessary storage facilities both stationary and mobile.
The Buhari regime guided by its endorsement of capitalism; a primitive one at that, that leaves it with no other choice than to subscribe and support open grazing as a right of herders, dictated by the logic of spend as little as possible to allow for as much profit to be made from rearing cattle. The question of ranching automatically increases the cost of production.
And for a regime that is in no way committed to developing the means of production to the highest level possible in any modern society in the 2st century, places directly on the agenda the necessity of the working class to independently organise, provide the leadership and programme for the oppressed masses to overthrow capitalism and commence the socialist transformation of the country.
Yet the Buhari regime at the centre is not alone in this, the state governments either in the north or in the south are not any different, they are all as guilty. Even in states where legislation has now been passed in Ondo, Lagos, etc banning open grazing, they all completely fall short of addressing the question of how meat will be supplied on the meal table for the working masses.
No alternative arrangement is put in place, governance places no major responsibility on the ruling elites outside of the chance it provides to lord themselves over the wealth of the society, appropriating it to provide for their luxurious lifestyle the best of anything and everything the world can ever offer from where ever.
Yet the permanent state of insecurity in the North has impacted as well on food production and agriculture, over 3 million people displaced, Boko Haram insurgency have seen the killing of more than 30, 000 persons. Making agriculture a complete unsafe work, we need nothing else than this to unveil the falsehood in the statement from the regime that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated” not when the Wall Street Journal recently revealed that the military went visiting bandits paying as much as N20 million to allow for a safe trip of the president to his home states. Even though the Military has come out to deny it.
The fact remains that only a socialist plan of action on agriculture as well as on all the key sectors of the economy can we begin to change the current situation for the betterment of the working masses. With all of the necessary public funds investment to provide all of the needs for farmers, large scale mechanization of farming, with pools of cooperative supports from locality to locality, with seeds, machines, fertilizers, storage facility, transportation and all of the necessary subsidy from the state to ensure that these food crops are accessible and affordable to the working masses. The same thing will apply to cattle, goat and fish, free from the inhibition of producing to making profit, the question of ranching will easily be embraced.
What is clear from all of the above analysis of the state of the economy under the Buhari regime is that the working masses, cannot hope to expect any change whatsoever in their fortunes, seven years on, is demonstrative enough of the direction the regime is heading. It is incapable of breaking from capitalism, how more apt is Marx when he says that History first occurs as a tragedy but repeats itself as a farce. Buhari has proven to us that is second coming is indeed a disaster to the working masses and it is incapable of seeking a reelection. This is with the constitutional prevention from seeking another term in office after a second term.
Although, the Buhari regime will use the remaining part of its tenure to enshrine it regime into the hearts of Big Businesses. For socialists, what this will mean is that the working masses should be preparing themselves for inevitable attack on their living standards, as the regime gives the green light to Big Business, to make mouse of the working masses in all sectors of the economy.
There is no better time than now to pose the question of a SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE, for the working masses to get organise, in and outside of the trade unions, commence campaigns for internal democracy in the unions, struggle to ensure that the unions are organs to defend the interest of the working class, and through such struggles draw all of the revolutionary conclusion to build a political organization of the working people with which to take on the ruling elites and overthrow capitalism. This is the socialist programme with which the working masses can in reality win its emancipation.