THE 2007 ELECTIONS AND THE WORKING MASSES
THE 2007 ELECTIONS AND THE WORKING MASSES
A scientific evaluation of all the factors and forces involved in the forthcoming general elections clearly shows that the working masses cannot expect a fundamental improvement in their living conditions in the aftermath of the general elections. To start with, virtually all the main contestants from the ruling and opposition parties are basically the same elements that have been ruling and ruining Nigeria since independence in 1960. Very importantly too, the so-called primaries conducted by the major capitalist parties to pick their flag bearers were the worst up to date in the history of intra-party elections in Nigeria. In most cases, the “victors” of the organised sham called primaries were the elements favoured by the powers that be in the polity and party affairs regardless of the true wishes of the party members.
In addition, the point should be stressed that this forthcoming general election will be the most expensive ever, going by the fabulous sums being spent by candidates of the main capitalist parties on billboards, newspapers and electronic adverts, etc. Here, the point should be stressed that this undue monetisation of politics and shift from house to house campaigning sharply reflects the unbridgeable and increasing gulf which separates capitalist politicians from the real world of the suffering working masses.
Less than 15 days to the commencement of the general elections, INEC, the body charged under the constitution to conduct elections, has failed/neglected to carry out necessary measures needed to ensure successful elections. Under the electoral law INEC is bound to display voters register at least 120 days before the commencement of the general elections. Regrettably, this has not been done. Under the electronic registration exercise conducted by INEC most voters registered at special polling centres different from their residential quarters. Without the INEC displaying the voters register and at the same time showing where prospective voters are to vote on election-day most voters may end up not being able to cast their votes. This apparent shambolic preparation has, in fact, heightened the debate about whether the widely hated PDP government, headed by Obasanjo, intends to quit power on May 29 as stipulated by the 1999 constitution. Of course, both the Obasanjo government and its marionette, the INEC, have been shouting louder than their voices of their preparedness to conduct the general elections as and when stipulated.
Therefore, if the elections hold as scheduled in the given situation, it will only produce a predictable outcome wherein another sets of locusts, parading as leaders, would come to power. Plainly put, the forthcoming elections can only produce elements who, in fact, should be expected to loot the treasuries, to carry out a more vicious anti-poor policies, etc, in order to recoup, with greater interest, the stolen money being presently invested to capture political power at all costs.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE
Only the emergence of a viable pan-Nigerian working class movement and political party can hold in check the inevitable anti-poor policies and corruption which will mostly characterise governance post the 2007 general elections. Unfortunately however, a scientific survey of the contemporary working class organisations and polity gives very little cause to cheer in this respect. While the trade union movement had led and organised seven general strikes and mass protests against some aspects of PDP neo-liberal anti-poor policies since 2000, on the whole, the entire trade union movement remains without a coherent, pro-masses’ economic and political alternative to the anti-poor ones constantly offered by capitalism.
Repeatedly, for the past four years, the DSM has been advocating the convocation of a special conference of the trade unions, poor peasants, market women associations, civil society groups, socialists, city and rural youths, etc, with a view to create an independent working masses’ political platform with a distinct pro-masses’ political agenda of kicking out the self-serving capitalist elements from power. Side by side, along with other change-seeking elements, we equally canvassed that Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past president of the NLC should run for the presidency on the platform of a Labour Party with a view to provide a rallying point for all change-seeking elements and anti-capitalist forces in the 2007 general elections. Unfortunately, the majority of the main trade union leaders and their allies in the civil society failed to adopt this strategy. Today the immediate result of this is that, all over the country, it is the same corrupt ruling class politicians that will emerge winners in the so-called forthcoming elections. In this regard, only Edo State, where Adams, the radical, past president of the NLC is running for the governorship seat, appears to be the exception to the above stated characterisation. But even in Edo State, it is important to underline the fact that Adams is running on the platform of the AC, one of the three biggest corrupt ruling capitalist parties and not the Labour Party!
Yes, Adams campaign has predictably met with widespread and deep enthusiasm among the masses, who regard him as a radical working class activist, whom, if voted to power, will carry out a fundamental improvement in the living standard of the working masses. On his part, Adams too in his campaigns has made lots of speeches to encourage this impression. We fully understand and accept the masses’ desire to vote for Adams against all other known pro-capitalist politicians and accordingly urge them to massively vote for him in the forthcoming elections. Nonetheless, we insist that Adams should interpret the Edo masses gesture in this regard as a manifestation of their desire to have a clean break with the barrenness and unfulfilled aspirations, which characterise bourgeois politics. We accordingly call on Adams to quit the AC and come back to join forces with us to build a genuinely pro-working masses’ Labour Party, not only in Edo State, but across the country as a whole.
Presently, there is an irreconcilable contradiction between the pro-masses’ populist campaigns of Adams and the conventional, self-serving philosophy and politicking, which constitutes the hallmark of the AC, on whose platform he is contesting the Edo election. Thus, if Adams fails to make a decisive political and organisational break with the bourgeois AC now, then, the hope that his pro-masses policies can be substantially implemented in the event of his victory at the poll will forever remain a mirage.
To prepare for the inevitable socio-economic attacks that will be launched by the ruling government at the central, state and local government levels in the post 2007 elections, now is the time to step up a strategy on how to build a powerful working class resistance economically and politically against this development. This will basically require that a truly pan-Nigerian labour party be built. We hasten to say that only this kind of political platform can successfully wrestle political power from the self-serving capitalist elements that will always rig elections to remain in power at all times. Suffice to stress, the magnificent and electrifying response which Adams campaign has received in Edo State clearly shows that the masses across the country are seriously yearning for a clean break with “business-as usual” politics.
BUILD A TRULY REVOLUTIONARY, PROLETARIAN FORCES
In preparation for the storming period that lies ahead, socialists, youths and labour activists must, while continuing to help strengthen the broad movement, from time to time give primacy of attention towards the building and development of genuinely proletarian socialist forces in the trade unions, city and rural communities, among students, etc. This is imperative because only a genuine workers and poor peasants’ government, built on a socialist foundations, can begin to fundamentally address the various basic socio-economic needs of the masses. But to build a viable mass working masses’ political party that can put in power the kind of government stated above, there is the need to have strong and conscious socialist activists in the numerous organisations of the masses themselves. Only such forces can provide the needed ideological and organisational back up without which any pro-masses’ political platform can easily become politically neutralised in the face of ceaseless assaults and corruption of members of the capitalist ruling class. In fact, under the prevailing socio-economic conditions, a genuine working masses’ party would almost be impossible to be built without genuine socialists playing frontal roles in its day-to-day political and organisational existence.
In this regard, the deepening and development of independent revolutionary works and agitations on the daily issues and struggle of the masses within the trade union movement, youth, students, and community associations constitute the greatest preparations, which socialists can make towards the rebuilding of an effective pan-Nigerian working masses’ resistance against capitalist induced mass poverty and political repression. This also should be stressed, constitutes the only guarantee that a pan-Nigerian labour party, if formed, will not just be a labour party in name but a true party of the labouring masses and the poor in all its ideas and actions. But for this to happen it will be necessary for such a party to adopt a clear socialist programme and to link every daily battle with the overall need for a real system change, the ending of capitalist barbarism and a start for the working people to democratically plan the use of the country’s rich resources in the interests of all, not the rich.
This is the DSM’s aim. We urge all those who are interested in our ideas to discuss and debate with us with a view to joining us in the struggle to both improve our daily lives and help build a mighty movement to end the misery of capitalism by starting to create a socialist future.
Unless the above outlined approach is strictly and constantly adhered to, the process to reclaim the NCP from the current sets of undertakers parading themselves as leaders may not even kick off the ground, let alone become successful. Yes, the current national leadership has committed all manners of political treachery and unimaginable acts of unconstitutionality. Nonetheless, only sustained campaigns built on superior pro-masses’ ideals, morally and practically can sufficiently inspire the needed material and political resources to reclaim the party from the current rightwing leadership. Here, it is important to stress that the process and the idea of rebuilding the NCP as a pro-masses’ party can only be successfully developed as a component part of the strategy to build a pan-Nigerian working class political platform. Any genuine mass working peoples’ party either in form of NCP, Labour Party or called by any other name, will only command the true and creative allegiance of the masses if founded on a coherent pro-masses ideology and on a platform that is not solely built to canvass for votes once in every four years, but as a fighting companion of the masses in their day-to-day economic, social and political struggles.