LAGOS CHAPTER QUITS NCP
LAGOS CHAPTER QUITS NCP
Statement delivered by Segun Sango, Chairman, National Conscience Party, Lagos State, to a press conference held in Agege, Lagos on Wednesday, August 8, 2007.
This press conference has been called to publicly announce the decision of the Lagos State chapter of the National Conscience Party ( NCP) to quit the party en masse in protest against the strangulating hold and activities of the current right wing National Executive Committee (NEC) headed by Dr. Osagie Obayuwana. The decision to this effect was taken at the Lagos State Coordinating Council (SCC) meeting, which was held on July 21, 2007. Here, we wish to stress that this painful decision was taken because most members have come to the unavoidable conclusion that the objectives for which the NCP was set up and which made them to join the party in the first instance could no longer be realized within the party as presently constituted and run by the Obayuwana led right wing clique.
NCP AT THE BEGINNING
At the beginning in 1994, the NCP was consciously formed as a struggle party of the masses against the permanent economic and political exploitation and oppression of the working class. Hence its motto: ABOLITION OF POVERTY.
Under the leadership of its pioneer National Chairman, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the life and activities of the party were mainly dominated by struggles against military rule and all acts of injustice against the masses. In the post military era, the party’s activities from May 1999 to February 2003 were largely dominated by struggles to win legal right for the party to run candidates to contest political power in the country. This, it must be stressed, constitutes the political basis for the positive and widespread response of the masses, especially in Lagos, towards the party in the run up to the 2003 elections.
In sharp contrast to this era of struggle, apart from holding series of unproductive but very expensive (courtesy of INEC funds), NEC and National Coordinating Council meetings that were mostly directed towards the destruction of the party in its most active chapters, the Obayuwana leadership has little or nothing positive to show for almost its three years of control of the party at the national level.
Unlike the NEC members of Gani’s era, mostly made up of selfless and committed elements, most of the current NEC is made up of elements like Femi Falana, who joined the party after the successful struggle for its registration and mainly because they could not make ends meet in other bourgeois parties, like the AD, which they hitherto belonged. There is one major feature of the Obayuwana led NEC: most of its members do not have active chapters of the party from the state where they come from and or do not take active part in the activities of the party within the respective states where they are domiciled or officially operating from. Most of these elements are accidental characters who were only placed on the NEC in order to meet INEC’s requirements for registration.
Aware of its weak basis among the genuine party membership, the Obayuwana led leadership is totally intolerant of dissenting or even, critical political opinions. It has increasingly resorted to using bureaucratic organisational methods to control the party and drive out its opponents. This is why it insists on imposing National Deputy Chairpersons on the zones in flagrant violation of the party constitution, which expects an NDC to be elected “from within” its zone. Another manifestation of this rightwing attitude is the practice of giving party funds to loyalists instead of a properly constituted party organ in so far as those loyalists are prepared to oblige every whim and caprice of the almighty national leadership!
On top of all this, the Obayuwana rightwing led NEC has perfected the fraudulent art of procuring fake delegates to attend NCP national meetings in such a way that would give impression that the NCP has an active presence in almost 36 states of the federation. This, it must be said, is being done to achieve a two in one related purpose. One, such fake state delegations are thereafter used as the basis to allocate funds, which invariably, of course, goes to the lackeys, stooges and collaborators running the party. Two, these fake state delegations are also useful for the purpose of out voting overwhelmingly the genuine NCP members at national meetings.
However, it was the reckless and undemocratic conduct of this right wing leadership during the 2007 general elections that graphically exposed its irredeemably destructive and pro-state characteristics. The Obayuwana leadership deceptively first secured the party’s mandate to run for presidency, only for the leadership to sell the same mandate to General Buhari, the presidential candidate of the ANPP, a party, which largely harbours the most consciously reactionary sections of the Nigeria capitalist class.
In 2003 general elections, the Lagos State chapter of the party contested 97.5% of all elective posts in the state. Amongst several encouraging results, especially against the background of the massive manipulations and monetisations carried out by the ruling AD in the state and the PDP at central level, Lanre Arogundade, the party’s democratically elected governorship candidate for 2007 election got over 77,000 votes running as Lagos West Senatorial candidate in the 2003 elections while the party’s governorship candidate scored over 150,000 votes. Instead of doing everything possible to ensure that the party did better than 2003 elections, the Obayuwana right wing leadership decided to politically shoot the party’s governorship candidate point blank by substituting his candidature with that of an unknown person, based in the USA!
In an exclusive interview published in the March 30, 2007 edition of Vanguard newspaper, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the founding National Chairman of the party, had this to say on the overall conduct of the Obayuwana leadership:
“Since I left the leadership of the party in 2004, the party has seriously gone down. I am not happy that Obayuwana (NCP national chairman) has been very inactive. It is tragic that the NCP has no candidate in Lagos now. In 2003, we virtually won the election in Lagos State but for the rigging of the PDP and AD. With hundreds of thousands of votes they said we were third. This time have you heard of any NCP candidate on the radio, on the television, anywhere, have you heard of NCP campaigning for gubernatorial election anywhere in Lagos State? We chose Lanre Arogundade who grew up with the party from the inception, an internationally and nationally recognized activist of tremendous integrity and respectability, a workhorse, a man of honour, to take the flag of NCP but Obayuwana and others worked against this man and brought an unknown person from the U.S. who is not even a member of the party…”
As a result of the destructive activities of this leadership, many of the states which fielded considerable numbers of candidates in the 2003 elections could not run any in the 2007 general elections. In protest against the imposition of a non-party member as Lagos State governorship candidate, other candidates withdrew from participating in the election. Predictably, the imposed candidate received a highly disgraceful 850 votes in the entire Lagos State. Not satisfied with the usage of his powers as national officers to impose tamed candidates, the Obayuwana leadership has now, in a totally unconstitutional manner, manufactured a bunch of inactive elements as the new “official” Lagos State executive members. Within this context, it will be foolhardy to believe that a successful struggle can be waged at this point in time to reclaim the party from the stranglehold of its current right wing leadership.
Meanwhile, it is very important to note that at the base of the cancerous affliction snuffing the life out of the NCP lies a deeper ideological and political crisis of definition and identity. Right from its inception, the NCP had been unambiguous and unapologetic about its pro-masses’ bias. But suffice to note, the programme and leadership of the party at the national level had never with similar clarity articulated under which socio-political order its pro-masses ideals will be actualised.
Therefore, the basic lesson that must be learnt by working class and youth activists from the political crisis presently faced by the NCP and Labour Party (LP) is this: in this era of acute crisis facing capitalism globally and most especially in ex-colonies like Nigeria, a genuine pro-working masses’ mass party can only be built, sustained and become viable to an extent where it can wrestle power from the capitalist class, only if built on a revolutionary foundations and strategies. In this epoch, every attempt to build a mass working peoples party on the basis of reforming capitalism, instead of a conscious strive to overthrow this unjust system will always be confronted by the kind of fate that has befallen NCP, LP, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe, Chiluba’s Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) in Zambia, etc.
Nonetheless, those of us leaving NCP in protest against the anti-masses, rightwing orientation and strangulating bureaucratic conducts of the NCP national leadership are still irrevocably committed to the idea and programme of building a genuine pan-Nigeria working masses’ political party, committed to the struggle for the betterment of the poor in or out of political power. Towards this end, most of us have resolved to join and actively participate in a political platform called “Campaign for the Formation of a Genuine Mass Working Peoples’ Party”. In the immediate period ahead, we plan to organise series of political activities within trade unions, community and youth organisations primarily directed towards the crystalisation of a mass working peoples’ party through which all layers of pro-masses elements and organisations, including socialists, clamouring for a genuine socio-economic transformation of capitalist Nigeria can work together in a truly democratic manner to end, once and for all, the rule of all layers of exploiters and oppressors. We therefore, urge all working class elements and youths who centrally share our view point in this respect to join this campaign.