BLEAK 2007: URGENT NEED FOR A WORKING PEOPLES’ PARTY
BLEAK 2007: URGENT NEED FOR A WORKING PEOPLES’ PARTY
By Dagga Tolar
The feud between President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku which resulted into an exposition with documentary evidences of high scale corruption in the presidency affirms the long held position of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) that both men are not, in anyway, fit to continue to rule Nigeria for an additional one day, not to talk of staying in power till 2007 or Atiku succeeding Obasanjo.
Corruption remains a permanent feature of capitalism, which the Obasanjo regime has, since 1999, foisted on Nigeria poor working people in a rabid version of neo-liberal reforms. It is anti-poor reform programme of privatisation that enables Obasanjo, Atiku and their likes to divert public fund and use same to buy up public assets and corporations at rock bottom prices.
This simply explains why the working masses cannot afford to put their trust on Obasanjo, Atiku or any other member of this thieving capitalist class. To do so means that the working masses should prepare themselves for a more harrowing version of the hell that Obasanjo and Atiku has presently condemned them. Interestingly, all those teeming to succeed Obasanjo from Atiku, Marwa, Babangida, Donald Duke, Victor Attah, Orji Kalu, Odili, Yerima, Akhigbe, etc have demonstrated their commitment to neo-liberal reforms not just in words but also in practice.
The only safe conclusion to draw from the above is that the working masses cannot expect any form of salvation from any of these characters or any member of the ruling class, either in power or otherwise. This therefore raises the question of a need of an independent alternative political platform of the working masses that would not merely seek or put forward a candidate to replace Obasanjo, but ultimately organize the poor working masses to confront and overthrow capitalism.
Some would rightly argue however that there is an existing Labour Party (LP). But we in the DSM make bold to say that this does not in anyway erase the continued need for a working people’s party that would be alive and be intervening in the day-to-day struggle and interest of the working masses. Moreover, such party must not merely be an electoral platform that exists only in the registration book of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as is the case of the present Labour Party. The leadership of the Labour Party practically lacks any alternative to neo-liberal reforms and anti-poor policies of the Obasanjo PDP led government.
This explains why LP was no where to be found in words and action during the 7 national general strikes and protests led by labour and civil society coalition against some of the neo-liberal policies of Obasanjo/Atiku led PDP government between 2000 and 2005. These general strikes and mass protests did not only raise critical question marks on neo-liberalism, it did raise the question of political power and the need to overthrowing and replacing Obasanjo/Atiku regime with workers and poor farmers’ government as the only enduring means of halting the neo-liberalism which was the heart and basis of the fuel price increases.
In the absence of working people party, smaller left organisations and forces like the DSM and other individual activists organized around LASCO were left to raise the question of power and system change.
The collapse of Stalinism in the former USSR in the early 1990s virtually meant that majority of the labour leaders, who were trained and schooled in the USSR and Eastern Europe, lacking the correct Marxist tools of dialectics were unable to scientifically understand why the USSR collapsed and as such, had to cross over to capitalism and shamelessly denouncing socialism. The present outlook of the labour leaders is therefore a product of their abandoning the ideology of Marxism, the only existing ideology of the working masses, with which the working masses can confront the ruling elite.
This dismal picture however cannot in any way be used to dismiss the fact that working masses are capable of developing the need and consciousness to struggle for political power from the ruling elite. With focused leadership, especially with respect to political power, the working masses have demonstrated their willingness to terminate Obasanjo/Atiku rule and their neo-liberal policies seven times through the general strikes and mass protests. What was lacking was a leadership prepared to tailor the mass anger and protest to pick the power lying on the street.
It is in the light of this that we in the DSM have largely been calling on Adams Oshiomhole who led the NLC and LASCO to prosecute the general strikes to contest as President in the forthcoming 2007 general elections as a basis of commencing the process of building an alternative political platform of the working peoples party. We are of the view that with our experiences in the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the farce dubbed 2003 general elections particularly in Lagos state, a well coordinated campaign canvassing for votes on the basis of anti-neo-liberal, pro-peoples programmes, workers, youth, unemployed, poor peasant, artisans and other strata of the working class who are the majority in every society, will rally round Oshiomhole and make him victorious. Adam, standing as a presidential candidate on the above enunciated programmes couple with his records of fighting with workers and masses, could greatly inspire the resolve of workers and poor masses to end the rule of the thieving elite that has continued to make life miserable for the mass majority of the people in the midst of super abundance.
Adams Oshiomhole, to the disappointment of a lot of us, has however chosen to reduce his influence and interest to just Edo State on an excuse that Nigeria politics is monetised, that Adams could not muster the financial muscle to run for President. The argument therefore posits that Adams should start with Edo state and if he wins and performs well, it could be used as a launching pad to the presidency in future. Yes, as much as plausible this argument, it does not take into cognizance the role of the working masses in the process of bringing needed change in the whole course of history. However, socialists have a duty to put aside the disappointment and see how this limited opening of Adams Oshiomhole contesting can be used to enhance the campaign for a genuine and independent working people’s party.
There is therefore a need to build LP in Edo state in particular and nationally in general. This requires socialists becoming active in the campaign and membership recruitment for the party with the view to build the consciousness for revolutionary change, creating necessary support base to raise candidates for state House of Assembly, Local government chairmen and councillors.
What this means is that even if the Labour Party is successfully built in Edo State, it would still require a base of support in other parts of the country. This explains why we have continued to call on the labour organizations and pro-masses organisations as well as left leaning political parties to immediately convene a conference to discuss programme and agenda for common platform with which any pro-masses organisation/individual can contest in 2007 elections.
It is our hope that with such a joint work, it is only a question of time before more and more people will arrive at the conclusion that only a mass-based working peoples party built on socialist programme that could commence the historical task of dumping into the dustbins, the Obasanjo/Atiku and all their clones with their anti-poor neo-liberal policies, and transforming Nigeria. More importantly, such party shall usher in a workers and poor farmers’ government that will nationalize the commanding heights of the economy and resources of natures with the democratic control and management of the working people themselves. This is to guarantee provision of basic needs of life such as food, education, housing, roads, health care, electricity, water etc. for workers and poor masses.