For Free Mandatory Mass Testing Coupled with Isolation of Suspected/Confirmed Cases! For Free Food and Medical Supplies! Constitute Workers and Peasant Committees to Execute Mass-based Initiative for the Pandemic! Resist State Aggression!
Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (Sympathising Section of the RCIT in Nigeria), 1 April 2020, https://revolutionarysocialistvanguard.wordpress.com/
The global effects of COVID-19 is not unconnected from the greed of a polarized system that has set the health sector up as luxury facility for the rich only. This is worse in African countries like Nigeria where this avarice of the ruling class has finally collapsed the health sector, and where the limited hospitals are average death centers in critical situations.
The Nigerian ruling class headed by president Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) is in crises and confusion because the question of lock downs and travel bans poses an existential crisis to it due to heavy dependence on foreign commodities and medical aid. This crises is further deepened by the global economic decline which started in 2019 a result of which has caused the naira to crash to its lowest value of 390-450 naira per dollar; the fall of global oil prices and the spread of the disease amongst prominent ranks of the administration such as the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; Bauchi state governor, to mention a few.
Hence the Buhari regime is reluctant to declare mass lock downs and total travel bans. That is why a momentary two week lock down was imposed in only Lagos state, Ogun state, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja effective from March 30th by 11pm. The criticism of some activists that PMB has not observed legal protocols in by-passing the legislature to impose a lock down in the 3 states is again an indication of the lukewarmness of the administration to execute total lock down and complete travel bans.
It is necessary to point out that the measures of the Nigerian government are not only worse when seen as mere state repression, it is worst in the sense that is also suicidal because Nigerians who have been compelled to sit at home are brutalized by biting hunger. Before now, the Nigerian economy is barely survived by the middle class not to talk more of the million commoners who barely have square meals. We then ask where the sincerity of government lies during lockdowns, especially for these most vulnerable commoners.
That is why only the Nigerian intellectuals and academics are basking in the delusion of a lock down as the best possible means to contain the spread of COVID-19, the lock down is hardly finding any sympathy amidst the millions of informal workers, peasants and toiling masses in the country. Hence there have been reports of widespread clashes with police the most prominent occurring in Katsina state where around 90 people were arrested and one killed for burning down Kusada Divisional Police station after police officers from the division disrupted Friday Juma'at service.
The only way to alleviate the inconveniences of the people at the moment is to ensure provision of social amenities such as power, portable water, food supplies, internet connection and medical supplies at most subsidized rate for civil servants whose salaries must not cease, while at no cost to the most vulnerable commoners whose means of livelihood can no longer be guaranteed.
We condemn the harassment and repressions of citizens in the guise of measures to curtail the virus, instead, government should begin free mass testing coupled with isolation of confirmed/suspected cases and expand the health sector. In the light of the foregoing some crucial points are required for understanding of future developments;
1. Despite vacillations of the Nigerian bourgeoisie, they see the pandemic as an avenue to halt the revolutionary surge of the previous year; attack democratic rights and shift the blame for the collapsed economy on the pandemic. Thus, the Lagos state government closed down major markets on the 26th of March. There are already viral videos on the internet of local market women being flogged and their wares destroyed by a joint force of police and military. There are widespread reports of couples and their families being arrested at wedding ceremonies.
2. Nigerians must understand that the onslaught of lock downs executed by governments around the world is not done as a precaution to stem the spread of the disease since several pandemics have occurred in the past without sparking such response from these governments. Rather what the lock downs and travel bans are meant to contain are the radical insurrections and uprisings against the capitalist order which entered a new level in 2019 and is bound to reach record levels this year since the effect of a global economic recession will definitely emerge this year. Global imperialism sees the outbreak as an opportunity for this!
3. Unfortunately broad sections of Nigerian activists are in support of the lock downs. In fact they have called for lock downs even before the government responded with certain measures. Many more blame the government for refusing to ban international travels and close the borders on time. Some have threatened to drag PMB to court for declaring a lock down in 3 states without passing through the necessary constitutional provisions. This however is not a stance against the lock down, it is rather a call for constitutional protocols for the lock down. What these leftists have failed to explain is how they expect the Buhari administration to resolve the COVID-19 crises or any other crises with them locked in.
There can be no solution to this or any other crises without the active participation of revolutionaries leading the popular masses. Hence we posit that all authentic revolutionaries must begin a campaign with following general demands:
* No to the mass lockdown of people! Oppose travel ban and immigration control!
* For systematic and complete health screening of all people who might have had contact with the virus. This screening must be free for all people but should be mandatory. The same is necessary for any potential treatment which should include quarantine if necessary.
* Build additional public health care facilities and hospitals! Nationalization of the private health sector (hospitals, laboratories, etc.)!
* Put the whole health sector under the democratic control of the workers and the people as a whole!
* Formation of workers and popular committees for the control and supply of basic necessities (food, cleaning, medicine)!
Provisional Liaison Officer.