05 July 2006
The privatisation of the Nigeria Telecommunication Limited (NITEL) by the Federal Government is criminal to say the least. The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) sees this as an act of insensitivity by the Federal Government to the interests of the poor masses. The sale of NITEL, especially at a time when millions of people are needlessly poor and in need of gainful employment, is nothing but an anti-poor, pro-rich policy. Tragically this policy is taking place especially when millions of dollars are made daily with no corresponding benefit in terms of social welfare for Nigerians.
The N105 billion (750 million US dollars) the NITEL was sold is ridiculously low and thus, abysmally under-valued. The fact remains that NITEL has valuable assets worth much more than what was offered. The company is also being owed a lot of money by the government and other private Telecommunication Operators (PTO’s). NITEL is a corporation which, if well run, is capable of employing additional thousands of workers and is capable of providing a decent service for all Nigerians.
Privatisation serves the rich: No to redundancies
At a time when the relative few available institutions of higher learning turn out hundreds of thousands of graduates on a yearly basis, most of whom remain perpetually unemployed and only ceaselessly roaming the streets in search of unavailable jobs, the Federal Government is preoccupied with the business of privatisation and commercialisation of publicly owned properties which were built over the years with our collectively owned wealth – a venture which in all aspect is perpetually anti-people. Privatisation is pro-rich because it puts public wealth into private hands and further increases poverty because it puts more people out of employment as the new management is out to make profit at the expense of human life. As such, an estimated 7,000 NITEL workers out of its work force of about 10,000 are to be sacked.
The privatisation of NITEL and any other public corporation, property, under any guise should be totally condemned by the general public as it does the toiling masses no good. Hence, the CDWR calls on NLC, TUC, CFTU, pro-labour and pro-masses organisations etc to unequivocally condemn and reject the government’s neo liberal policies of privatisation and commercialisation inspired by the World Bank and IMF.
It is a fundamental flaw on the part of labour leaders to merely confine their demands to issues of immediate payment of gratuities to those doomed to lose their means of livelihood in the name of privatisation.
The CDWR strongly aver that the labour and pro-masses organisations should demand through strikes and other forms of protest:(1) a halt to the right-sizing (sacking) of 7,000 workers of NITEL and other affected corporations; (2) an end to privatisation of public companies and properties such as NITEL, PHCN, NRC, NPA, Schools, etc; (3) the re-nationalisation of all the already sold public properties; (4) the provision of basic necessities such as food, water, electricity, decent jobs, education at all levels, housing, recreational facilities etc, for workers and poor masses.
Victor Osakwe, Secretary CDWR
Rufus Olusesan, Chairman, CDWR