2007 ELECTIONS: Only Socialist Solution Can Avert Looming Disaster
2007 ELECTIONS: Only Socialist Solution Can Avert Looming Disaster
Victory of Capitalist Class Will Only Create Unprecedented Economic and Political Crisis.
Only Working Class, Socialist Solution Can Avert the Looming Disaster
Under Nigeria’s 1999 constitution, a general election to elect a new set of governments at the central and state levels must take place before May 29, 2007. For the vast majority of the working people, urban and the rural poor that have been subjected to a relentless pro-capitalist, anti-poor economic and political policies by all governments across the country, the new opportunity to elect a new set of governments can’t come too fast enough. While the country has earned unprecedented and sustained huge incomes from crude oil exportation and other sources of revenues, the quality and quantity of the life of most layers of the working masses and the poor have, at the same time, taken an unprecedented plunge negatively.
Recently, it was calculated that since the commercial exploitation of oil begun 50 years ago Nigeria has “earned” N52 trillion ($400 billion) in oil sales’ revenue. While working people have seen, in reality, very little from this fabulous wealth it has been the pot of gold which the different factions of the ruling elite have fought over. This is why Nigerian elections are so bitterly fought over; the overwhelming majority of candidates are fighting to get their hands on some of this loot. This is the root cause of the rigging, corruption and violence that characterises elections, and also the reason why so few bother to actually vote if the choice is only between rival criminal gangs.
Therefore, quite naturally, the first instinctive wish of every suffering working person and poor will be a desire to get rid of the present unjust, rotten dispensation. Even layers of the capitalist elements called liberals want the 2007 elections to be truly free and fair, that is as something totally different from the 2003 elections that were chiefly characterised by official manipulations and riggings. Most ordinary people, and even a substantial layers of the rich and middle class elements, most earnestly desire a new set of governments that would make life better and the economy run better. Unfortunately however, as things stand today and unless checkmated by a mass working peoples’ alternative, the 2007 general elections, if it holds, will only yield greater and unprecedented mass poverty in the midst of plenty and a never thought of political instability and social nightmare.
THE POWERS THAT BE
First and foremost, the masses need to draw conclusion from the fact that there has occurred a qualitative transformation in the manner and scope of public treasury looting by all the layers of capitalist ruling class. In the past, capitalist elements and their governments, at least verbally, accepted responsibility to provide and guarantee certain social services like public sponsored universal education, free health care scheme, massive creation of employments, general development of necessary infrastructures like road network, railways, communications, pipe borne water, mass housing projects, etc. Of course, because of the inherent corruption and mismanagement of such publicly run services and utilities by the handpicked capitalist managers, the masses were never able to get the best out of such public investments. Rather, it was the usually handpicked managers of these publicly run investments and the governments that appointed them that used to loot most of the resources officially allocated to such sectors. In fact, at the beginning of the orchestrated propagation of the neo-liberal, privatisation drive under Babangida’s military junta in the 1980s, the idea originally floated was to privatise only public sectors that were running at a loss. But, under Obasanjo’s government wholesale privatisation, only the most profitable or potentially profitable ventures are being sold and mostly to themselves and their favourites using publicly looted funds!
Of course, President Obasanjo and those very close to him are never tired of shouting to roof tops the anti-corruption crusade being purportedly waged by the government. To many uncritical liberal critics, the EFCC is the greatest institution of the moment. The EFCC itself, and many of its paid and unpaid public image launderers, are never tired of stating the fabulous sums of money they have recovered from corrupt public officials and institutions. In addition, they are always very quick to point out the fact that Obasanjo government has been the only government, so far, that has tried and convicted highly placed public officials for corrupt practices. However, as we in the DSM has often in the past analysed, the so-called anti-corruption crusade being waged by Obasanjo government are actually meant to serve two-related selfish purposes. One, to deal with those elements from the ruling class that temporarily fall out of favour with the President, and even when this is done they are usually treated with kids gloves. For instance, one of the most celebrated high profile fraud prosecutions was that of Tafa Balogun, the former Inspector General of Police. At the end of the day, after lots of horse trading, Mr. Balogun bagged a mere six-month imprisonment for being found guilty of unlawful enrichment to the tune of N17 billion plus unlawful acquisition of landed properties running into tens of billions of naira. Two, and most importantly, the periodic anti-corruption crusade is primarily designed to divert public attention from the unparallel act of corruption taking place in the name of governance under Obasanjo’s presidency. Here, we will only cite three examples to buttress this point.
Recently, 75% of the shares in NITEL and MTEL were sold to a private company called Transcorp for a meagre sum of $750 million. In 2002, a 51% share of only NITEL was sold to a company called International Investment of London Limited (IILL) for a sum of $1.3 billion. Because the company was unable to pay the purchase price within the time stipulated under the sales contract, the sale was revoked. Here, the basic question to ask is why should 75% shares of NITEL plus 75% shares of MTEL fetch a grossly lower price than what was offered for 51% of NITEL shares alone? The reason for this is because Transcorp is substantially owned by President Obasanjo.
Up till date, President Obasanjo government operates a parallel account called “EXCESS CRUDE OIL ACCOUNT” totally unknown to the constitution. Under the 1999 constitution, every kobo accruing as revenue to the Federal Government is first and foremost expected to be paid into what is called “Federation Account” before any expenditure based on an Appropriation of National Assembly is done. Only the National Assembly is empowered by the constitution to authorise the creation of any other public account. In flagrant violation of these provisions, the federal government has been operating the so-called excess crude oil account wherein all monies made from crude oil sales outside the usually low price of oil put in the annual budget is supposedly being paid into. The details of incomes and expenditures with respect to this illegal account are only known to President Obasanjo and a few of his cronies.
In 2005, President Obasanjo organised a public fund raising function with a view to build a private presidential library. Within a period of 3 hours, prominent capitalists, individuals, corporations and some public parastatals raised a sum of N7 billion for his private library project. The management of Nigerian Port Authority, which was then reeling under a scandal involving hundreds of billions of naira of stolen funds made a donation of $1million cash and since then, all public outcry to probe the NPA even despite EFCC indictment of the body has been totally ignored by President Obasanjo. The other major donors at the event like Chief Mike Adenuga and Alhaji Aliu Dangote were the greatest beneficiaries of the sales of certain juicy public ventures in Obasanjo first term in office. Of course, because most capitalist rulers and their allies have no financial pedigree in industry or agriculture, quite naturally they have resorted to the direct looting of public treasury to purchase public properties in the name of privatisation.
This it must be stressed, is responsible for the unprecedented deadly character which the struggle to win political post has acquired among members of the capitalist class, either within the same political party or on the basis of inter-party relations. Those that have benefited from the large scale looting of the public treasury and properties in the last eight years of Obasanjo government will do everything possible to retain their hold on power. They have too much at stake such that they can never be expected or trusted to organize truly free and fair elections.
In addition, most of the elements controlling political powers at the central and state levels largely owed their power to electoral manipulation and rigging. Even now, before the 2007 general elections, they have left no any reasonable person in doubt that free and fair election will be the last item on their agenda. Looking at the undemocratic, unconstitutional and intolerant manner with which they are running their own parties, deal with opposition and dissident elements, then, it is a forgone conclusion that this party cannot be entrusted with free and fair elections. For instance, the current leadership of the PDP which has the final says on the party’s affairs, candidatures etc, was not elected but singularly handpicked by President Obasanjo and his cronies. While it is an open secret that most, if not all the state governors, are guilty of large scale misappropriation and corruption, only a few have been removed from office and their removal, mostly effected through wholesale financial and constitutional corruptions.
THINGS WILL ONLY GET WORSE
Notwithstanding the above enumerated issues, capitalist apologists and direct beneficiaries of the prevailing unjust order are never tired of urging the continuation of the prevailing dispensation on the false premise that this is the only way to safeguard masses’ interest both now and in the future. But this is a blatant lie. In order to safeguard the masses interest and at the same time guarantee a steady growth of the economy, it has now become imperative to bring into being a working peoples government run on the basis of democratic socialist tenets to replace the current government of looters run by looters and in the interest of looters.
As we go to press, President Obasanjo and other political office holders have barely six months before the expiration of their terms of office. Notwithstanding this fact, the central government and its counterpart at the state levels have been coming up with mind bugling budgets, which for all practical purposes and intents, were designed for large scale looting, for the year 2007. For instance, about N108 billion has been voted for the presidency and National Assembly which have less than 10,000 persons, while only a sum of N180 billion was voted for education expected to take care of tens of millions of pupils and students and the entire workforce in this sector. According to the budget analysis, a sum of N546.7million has been voted to purchase foodstuffs for the presidency. Currently, the Bayelsa State Government allocates the sum of N500 million and N250 million monthly to the offices of the Deputy Governor and that of the wife of the state Governor respectively. Based on the established history of Nigeria’s ruling class and most especially the history of the rapacious looters ruling at the central and state levels, since May, 1999, in the name of democracy, most of the huge budgetary allocations being made by all the outgoing governments would only end up being looted by top government officials and their collaborators/contractors. Predictably too, the post May, 2007 governments will, as usual, propose their own jumbo budgets which will now be called “supplementary budgets” so that they too can collect their own cuts. And the vicious circle will continue ad infinitum.
Against overwhelming public outcry, the INEC has insisted on using what it calls “electronic voting system” for the year 2007 elections. Currently, voters’ registration exercise has started but very conspicuously, the fact has come out that INEC is least prepared for this exercise. Less than of the 1% machines and equipment required for the exercise have been made available, even at that, whenever equipment breaks down INEC has proved incapable of providing needed back up equipment or machines. At the rate which this exercise currently moves, INEC will need more than six months to register all eligible voters. Even if by acts of miracle, all eligible voters get registered before the elections scheduled for next year, most will never be able to cast their votes. A typical polling booth usually contains 500 registered voters and according to INEC chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu, the body requires a minimum of 5 minutes to attend to a prospective voter, this roughly translate to a minimum of 41 hours for every polling booth. Against the background that voting is usually fixed for between the period of 9am-4pm, this will simply deprive many people the chance to cast their votes. Thus, far from the electronic system being solution against electoral manipulations, the forthcoming exercise may, in fact, open the floodgates of unprecedented political manipulations, crisis and stalemates.
NATIONAL QUESTION AND THE NIGER DELTA ISSUE
The nationality problem remains intractable, across the country, and most especially in the Niger Delta. Here it should be noted that the country now called Nigeria was created by British imperialism primarily for its own inter-imperialist competition at the time, primarily with regards to its competition against French and German imperialism. Both in its conception and execution, no sections of the nationalities and religious groups that make up Nigeria were consulted in any manner whatsoever. Quite naturally, this undemocratic contraption has only yielded a lopsided arrangement wherein many socio-political injustice and denials reign supreme.
Quite naturally, for almost all its post independent history, Nigeria has always being dogged by agitations for one form of self-determination or the other, by the different nationalities/religious groups that make up the country. In this respect, the declaration of the Biafra Republic and the ensuing 3-year civil war between 1967 and 1970 represents, yet, the most audacious efforts ever made to un-make Nigeria as a geographical and political entity. However, owing to a certain level of improvement in the living standard of the masses in general, say between 1970 and the early 1980s (the years of oil boom), there occurred a brief development of what could be called a pan-Nigerian nationalism. But now all this appeared to be like an illusion. Today, majority of people in the different nationalities possibly would vote to be without other nationalities. This partly explains the phenomenal rise, in the recent past, of nationalist organisations like the OPC, IJC, AYF, MASSOB, etc.
If however the OPC or MASSOB has not been able, so far to secure the active support of the majority of the Yorubas or the Igbos to actualise its respective dream of an Oduduwa or Biafra Republic, this certainly cannot be unconnected with the fact that about 80% of the country’s current incomes is derived from Niger Delta Region and of course, the inherent fear of what these Republics would be like without the Niger Delta oil wealth. But where the OPC and MASSOB nationalists have become less coherent in their thoughts and actions, the Niger Delta militant nationalists on the contrary seem to have finally discovered the idea and courage to ward off, once and for all, the material exploitation, political repression and marginalisation by the elites of the major nationality/ethic groups, that have, since the forcible creation of Nigeria, kept the vast majority of the people of this oil rich region in permanent poverty and servititude.
Now, the Niger Delta militants have been speaking loudly through armed resistance against officials of, mostly, multinational oil corporations rightly seen as the economic backers of the Nigerian state perceived by most conscious elements as a colonial authority. The militia activities have witnessed a more coordinated hostage takings and attacks on oil pipes/installations than any other period in Nigeria’s history. An estimate says that Nigeria currently loses about 10% of oil production directly arising from the rise in the activities of the Niger Delta militants. For a country which relies for about 80% of its incomes from sales of crude oil, for a country politically and economically dominated by the elites of the three most populous nationalities (Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba) (none of which is a major oil producer) the prevailing situation in the Niger Delta is certainly not something that will be tolerated and in fact is something already being combated by the powers that be, in the most ferocious fashion.
Incapable of meeting the basic needs of the Niger Delta masses, all the different strata of the capitalist ruling class, including imperialism, through its multinational oil corporations have resorted to its old, well-worn measure, force and repression. Side by side with periodic payment of ransom fees, the ruling class has also been making plans for big time permanent military crack down so as to sustain crude exploitation of the Niger Delta oil without caring a hoot for masses interests. This explains why both sides easily agree to form what it calls Gulf of Guinea Energy Security. The point should be made that this body was formed to provide a military repressive solution to the certain agitations and resistance that will grow amongst the Deltan masses, against the mindless exploitation and oppression of the ruling class internationally and nationally.
But far from bringing a lasting solution to the Niger Delta issue, this strong-arm tactics of the Obasanjo government and the entire ruling class will only exacerbate the current unstable climate both in the medium and long-term basis. Vital human and material resources that ought to be deployed towards productive ventures which could better the lots of the masses in the rest of Nigeria and the Niger Delta itself will be committed to a no-win war against “terrorists” and ‘brigands”.
On the other hand, the periodic hostage takings, strikes against the strategic interests of oil multinationals and the Nigerian state will always be covertly and overtly celebrated as heroic feats by the generality of the poor people, permanently labouring under the yoke of capitalist induced poverty. But unless the masses themselves take the front charge of the liberation struggle, including armed resistance, the current heroic militia actions will only degenerate into a ding dong affair alternating between periods of militia attacks and concomitant state military repression on the generality of the people. There could also be the danger that some of the militia groups themselves could become criminalised, earning living through hostage taking, bunkering, etc and even becoming oppressors of the very people they started out to defend. The situation could even degenerate to a level where the entire capitalist class may once again resort to outright military dictatorship in order to be able to more brutally enforce its selfish interests against the masses needs of the Niger Delta and across the country.
However, a military intervention today will not an inch broaden the democratic rights of the masses vis-Å•-vis their capacity to hold power holders more accountable financially and politically. Rather, a military coup d’etat would only, most fundamentally, abridge the rights of the ordinary masses in all aspects while creating a more propitious opportunity for the self-imposed, leaders to loot the country dry like their predecessors.
THE BOURGEOIS OPPOSITION PARTIES
From whatever angle the issue is examined, the continuation of the PDP political dominance in post 2007 elections will only bring greater economic and political disasters to the vast majority of the working people. But most unfortunately, for the masses, on the basis of the present political configurations, the probability is that the PDP will most likely emerge the most dominant political power after the 2007 elections, which of course will not be free or fair. However, there is a school of thought which argues that given the justifiable anger which the masses bear towards the anti-poor and corrupt PDP government, that it should be very easy to dislodge the PDP from power, provided the opposition parties like ANPP, AD or the latest contraption called Action Congress (AC) teamed up on a united electoral platform.
But as we in the DSM often argue, the above school of thought assumptions are fallacious in its entirety. Today, the productive sector of the economy is in its worst state ever. Mass retrenchment, instead of massive employment, dominates the industrial landscape. The very few that have jobs work under the most exploitative conditions ever. Many no longer have basic trade union rights. The few companies that remain in business have to resort to all sorts of tricks and “promotions” for profit ends to meet. Meanwhile, the wholesale liberal economic bent of the past almost 8 years have only worsened the plight of a decaying, and grossly inadequate necessary infrastructures like the road network, constant and cheap electricity, railways, communications, etc, all of which have combined to make Nigeria’s environment the least “business friendly” and Nigeria’s produced goods very expensive as to make it more profitable for Nigerian companies to import (and smuggle in if necessary) foreign goods instead of embarking on local production.
Yes, with less than six months left in power, the Obasanjo government suddenly seems to have realized the importance of railways within the scheme of economic development. The government has therefore come up with a two phased rail development strategy with China. The construction of the first phase that will cover Lagos to Kano and be expected to complete in 5 years has been awarded to a Chinese company for $8.3 billion. The second phase of what is called 20-year modernisation programme will link Port Harcourt to Jos. Apparently towards this end, hundreds of billion of naira has been proposed to commence the development of railway system in the 2007 budget.
Undoubtedly, if this project is seriously executed as proposed on paper, it will not only give a lot of impetus to the general industrial development in the country, it will also reduce the level of the country’s dependence on US and western imperialist countries for technological and industrial growth.
However going by history of Nigeria’s ruling class and particularly that of the current Obasanjo’s government of looters, most of the money being earmarked for this project will end up being looted by top officials of the outgoing government. And as usual, their capitalist successors in office will first suspend the project and later re-award it at a higher cost so that they too can take their own cuts. From late 1970s, the capitalist ruling class brought in the then Soviet Union to develop the steel sector. Two decades later and after tens of billions dollar investments the project was eventually abandoned. Only a government primarily formed to defend the interest of the working masses can effect necessary and sustainable development of the railways and other vital sectors of the economy.
But very significantly and tragically, virtually all the prominent politicians within the above mentioned opposition parties fully subscribe to the prevailing neo-liberal capitalist agenda which continue to make the economy and most people more prostrate. For instance, in all the ANPP and AD controlled states, it is the same mindless corruption and anti-poor policies which the PDP implement at the central level that prevail in these states too. Recently, the Obasanjo government, as part of its privatization agenda, announced its plan to privatise, transfer or sell the country’s owned federal colleges and secondary schools to profit oriented enterprises. Predictably, this was greeted with loud cry and even strike actions by parents and teachers which immediately stand to lose from this anti-poor policy. To falsely pose as a friend of the masses, Bola Tinubu, the AD Governor of Lagos State and a frontline promoter of the AC, openly denounced this proposed measure. However, Tinubu’s critique is pure hypocrisy. This same Tinubu in 2002 freely and gratuitously handed over 48 public secondary schools in Lagos State to profit merchants called missionaries and proprietors. Today, public education system in Lagos State has become further bastardised such that only those without any financial means bother to send their children to these so-called schools, with over crowded classrooms and teachers with low morale due to poor pay and working conditions.
What all these means is that a political coalition of the ANPP, AD, AC, etc type can never any day secure spontaneous support of the masses. And without a mass base, the ANPP/AD or AC coalition will be compelled to fight the 2007 elections against the PDP on the basis of financial inducements and official manipulations just like the PDP. Already in Lagos, the AC has started to offer N1,000 per person to stage their usual rent a crowd mega rallies. Suffice to stress, this approach will certainly give the PDP political machine, which is controlling the nation’s purse, greater advantage to emerge “winners” of an organized rigmarole that will be called elections. But even if the masses revulsion against the PDP propelled a coalition of ANPP/AD or AC to power, the sheer fact that they are birds of the same feathers means that governance will remain business as usual!
Today, in opposition, many of these elements will support 50% derivation revenue formula in favour of oil producing region. Tomorrow, if they find themselves in power, they will not only simply strive to back-track on this, but more importantly, they should be expected to pursue with greater vigour the current militaristic approach of the Obasanjo government with respect to the Niger Delta crisis. Then, those they patronize today as freedom fighters will be treated as “common criminals”. This is because oil is the major source of Nigeria’s elitist wealth. Therefore, no section of the elite in power or opposition will take a genuine and consistent pro-masses approach when oil wealth is at stake.
ONLY WORKING CLASS SOCIALIST SOLUTION CAN AVERT THE LOOMING DISASTERS
Only the emergence of a workers and poor peasants’ government built on a pro-masses, socialist foundation, can avert the kind of the unprecedented socio-economic calamities which the further prolongation of capitalist misrule in post 2007 elections will bring on the working people and the country as a whole. But very unfortunately, on the basis of the current political configurations, the post 2007 general elections will only bring to power the same set of ruinous, capitalist rogues currently holding sway at the state and central levels. Save for the Edo State, where Adams Oshiomhole, the outgoing NLC president, generally seen as a pro-masses trade union leader, is bidding for the governorship seat and possibly in Lagos State where the NCP, largely based on the political interventions of the DSM members, may put up some genuine pro-masses, socialist candidates, the forthcoming general elections in the remaining 34 states of the country plus Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory will be totally dominated by corrupt and anti-poor capitalist politicians.
Even then, the political situation in Edo and Lagos States as far as the protection of the masses interests are concerned, is not a straightforward matter. For instance, beyond Adams candidature, very little is being said or done about the necessity of looking for other pro-masses, working class candidates, for all other elective posts in Edo State. So far, nothing visible is being done to raise the profile of the Labour Party amongst the masses either in Edo State or the other part of the country. Only Adams pedigree seems to be the basic political asset which the Labour Party can boast of.
Nationally the NCP case is equally pathetic. Even though the party was only registered few months to the 2003 general elections, the party still, nonetheless, enjoyed a considerable degree of enthusiasm from the masses. Despite massive financial brigandage and administrative manipulations which on the part of the capitalist parties, like the AD, ANPP and PDP, dominated the electoral situation across the country, the NCP was still able to come third in Lagos State, the industrial heart of the country. Unfortunately however, many in the party’s national leadership were too much frustrated with the results of the elections to such an extent where they most practically stopped the building of the party thereafter.
So, while all the different layers of the capitalist ruling class parties continue to show their utter rottenness, the NCP has not been systematically built in such a way that it can effectively tap into anger against these parties. Even now, this, to say the least, unfavourable situation, has been further compounded by the systematic attacks of its right wing NCP national leadership headed by Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, against the party leadership in Lagos State under the leadership of Segun Sango, a DSM member. In fact, if this right wing national leadership has its way, the socialist/pro-masses wing of the party in Lagos State and elsewhere will not even be allowed to present candidates in the forthcoming elections, thus leaving the masses totally at the mercy of thieving capitalist parties of the AD/AC, ANPP and PDP. So, while the anti-poor economic policies and regular acts of political rascality of the ruling PDP, ANPP and the AD continue to repel the masses and strengthen their resolve to have a clean break with these ruling parties, the particular situation of the Labour Party and the NCP xrayed above, so far, have only largely succeeded in reinforcing the feelings of political helplessness on the part of the masses vis-Å•-vis the struggle to permanently overcome mass poverty in the midst of plenty and constant democratic violations.
However, a scientific appraisal of the political situation of the past 8 years of Obasanjo’s led civil rule, clearly reveals, beyond doubt, that the working masses are not in any sense helpless vis-Å•-vis the determination and capacity to take on the thieving capitalist rulers and their fraudulently elected governments in struggles. Unlike any period in Nigeria’s history, i.e. since the 1914 imperialist amalgamation, the past eight years have witnessed 7 countrywide general strikes and mass protests against some of the government’s anti-poor, neo-liberal policies. Suffice to recall, these strikes/protests, which at the time, severally and collectively paralysed government and business activities, equally won many concessions from the implacably anti-masses and usually arrogant government of President Obasanjo.
However, these strikes and protests were mostly led by trade union leaders and pro-democracy activists without a different world view from those of the capitalist politicians currently in power. Many trade union leaders including Adams Oshiomhole and highly respected pro-democracy activists like Chief Gani Fawehinmi have not yet come to the inescapable conclusion that capitalism cannot be run, to permanently guarantee the needs of the masses and that it has become imperative to organise mass movements to fight on a daily basis, all capitalist policies economically and politically. So, while the masses’ struggle has frontally put on the agenda, the issue of which class should rule, the capitalist or the working class, the main LASCO leaders failed or neglected to draw necessary political conclusion.
Instead of using the opportunities presented by the strikes/protests to build a formidable pan-Nigeria working peoples political party with a view to dislodge the capitalist class from power, they were busy assuring the government that their ultimate demand was no more than securing paltry concessions. This resulted in the major setback of the last minute abandonment of the general strike planned for November 2004 when the leaders signalled their refusals to challenge this rotten system. The calling off of this strike and the refusal to build upon the success of the September 2005 mass NLC rallies have contributed to many working people thinking that nothing can currently be gained by struggle. This has actually made it much easier for the elite to conduct their own internal battle to get their hands on the oil and gas revenues.
If not for this counter-productive approach, by the main leaders of the general strikes/protests in issue, the anti-poor capitalist governments headed by Obasanjo and those of his fellow travellers in ANPP and AD would long ago have been booted out of power by change seeking masses. Instead we now have a tragic situation where thoroughly exposed, shameless and most corrupt capitalist politicians hold the entire country to ransom and with the masses appearing totally helpless to stop them from perpetuating themselves and or their clones in power come 2007 general elections.
But, as we in the DSM had repeatedly advocated in the recent past, the masses do not have to accept the prevailing deplorable situation and the looming unprecedented socio-economic calamities as inevitable. To transform the masses current apparent political helplessness, we once again advocate the immediate convocation of a special political conference of all pro-labour/pro-masses organisations like LASCO, NCP, Labour Party, UAD, DSM, etc, with a specific aim of creating a distinct pro-masses political party which is prepared and viable enough to dislodge and replace the present self-serving capitalist looters from power. If the kind of a political formation being advocated should today come up with concrete and coherent plans of actions of how to better the lots of the masses and specifically create jobs for the teeming millions of unemployed youths and retrenched workers, who currently live in a totally hopeless world, the present apparent political apathy and helplessness felt by the masses can be rapidly transformed into a bottomless ocean of enthusiasm and sacrifices. Outside this approach, the call for a truly free and fair election would be nothing more than a utopian dream of expectations that the thieving gangsters politicians should not cheat on themselves in the name of elections! In other words, the working masses will only genuinely fight for a free and fair election only when they have elements truly representing their class against the class of capitalist cheaters.
Unless pro-masses candidates contest the forthcoming general elections and have vigilant enthusiastic supporters and backers in all the cities and rural areas of the country, all talks of “free and fair elections” will come to nothing in a contest with capitalist politicians poised to steal power at all cost. But, unfortunately, it now seems unlikely that this will happen throughout Nigeria. The extent to which this perspective is actualised in Edo State and in other parts of Nigeria will help determine what happens in the forthcoming 2007 general elections and thereafter. A strong showing by labour, pro-masses and socialists even in just a few parts of the country could be a major step towards building the mass working peoples’ alternative. Such a force will be needed to fight the inevitable attacks that will follow the elections and to build a movement that can once and for all transform Nigeria in a socialist direction by breaking the chains of capitalism and imperialism.