President Yar’adua’s Era: A new dawn for the masses?
THE IMMEDIATE PERIOD AHEAD
The prospect for the economic well-being of the vast majority of the working masses and poor, under President Yar’Adua looks very bleak and worrisome, especially within the framework of the neo-liberal economic philosophy being championed by his government. As we have repeatedly underlined in several of DSM publications, the past 8 years or so have been especially fortunate for Nigeria in terms of steady high price of crude oil. As we are about to go to press, oil for the first time, is being sold for over $90 per barrel. As a major oil producing country, this phenomenon has fetched Nigeria billions of dollars as revenue from crude oil sales.
Sadly to note however, the intrinsically greedy character of capitalism, especially its neo-liberal face, has practically meant that very little of the wealth being generated is committed to the development of the real economy and the living standard of the people. Of course, it is quite easy to note that a little portion of this wealth has trickled down to a minority layer of the working populace. Today, this is reflected in a growing number of middle class elements that could afford to ride good cars, live in decent homes plus being able to give relatively quality education and healthcare to members of their immediate families. Even then, the point must be made that the living conditions of today’s middle class remains a far cry from that of the middle class produced by the oil boom of the late 70s and early 80s. Today’s middle class elements are in a position where they are virtually responsible for everything. The roads to most of their homes are perpetually in bad shapes. They do not have the same level of jobs security which their counterparts in the 70s and 80s had.
Again, the relative prosperity of the early 70s and 80s offered better prospects for elements from the lower classes who had the right education and skills to get good jobs that can support a relatively decent good living with far less financial indeptness as compared with what obtains today. In sharp contrast, today’s prosperity is only for a very tiny minority of the populace, as mass retrenchment and massive unemployment remain the dominant features of the society. Manufacturing has continued its decline and very worrisome to note, the infrastructural base and facilities of the present “prosperity” is the weakest that any society can have. Roads are mostly bad and very inadequate. There is virtual absence of alternative transportation system and affordable quality health services. But worst of all, government’s commitment to neo-liberal policies means that these vital sectors will continue to suffer undue neglects and underfundings.
We therefore pose the question: If in the period of relative boom which presently prevails (courtesy of huge revenues from crude oil sales) the vast majority of the working masses and basic infrastructures needed for economic well-being and the overall development of the society suffer from deliberate neglects and underfundings, what then would be the situation that the masses will face, if due to developments within the international economic relations, the prices of oil take a sharp plunge? Without pretending to be prophets, we wish to say that the capitalist elites, would, in that kind of situation, stop at nothing to preserve their own opulent life styles and privileges.
Suffice to stress, this will only propel them to impose policies which will only further worsen the prevailing plight of the masses. Therefore, it is imperative for working class activists and the labour movement in general to draw up a comprehensive programme of actions that would make it possible for the emergence of a working peoples government, which will effectively utilise the human and natural resources of the society to take care of the interest of all, as opposed to that of a few, which is the norm under the prevailing capitalist system, to come to power. Under the prevailing dispensation, the vast majority of the working people and poor will only experience further attacks on their living standards instead of experiencing any real opportunity for upward mobility in terms of access to good jobs, functional infrastructures, decent healthcare and education services.
Unfortunately, precisely because the usurpers government of President Yar’Adua does not face any principled opposition from the main capitalist parties (ANPP, AC, APGA, etc) as well as a focused and well defined alternatives from labour and mass organisations leaders in general, the prevailing economic barrenness and the grave yard social peace which presently envelopes the masses may remain longer than necessary. Nonetheless, real material progress and genuine peace will continue to elude the vast majority of the working masses precisely because the greedy and insatiable capitalist gangsters who brought Yar’Adua to power would always block any policy or programme that has any potential to better the lot of the masses.
As we go to press, the verdicts of most of the Elections Tribunals, including the one hearing the petitions against the “election” of President Yar’Adua are still being awaited. As of today, the Elections Tribunals have nullified the “election” of 5 PDP governors thus fueling the expectation in certain quarters that the “election” of President Yar’Adua himself may still suffer similar fate. Suffice to stress, all the governorship “victories” that have so far been nullified were absolutely based on technical argument about the failure of INEC or PDP to strictly follow to the letters, certain relevant rules and regulations! When the argument shifts to a much more complex issue of proving an act of electoral fraud, the rulings of these Elections Tribunals can be expected to be less straight-forward and logical. However, even if in the unlikely event that President Yar’Adua’s “election” and that of many other state governors are nullified, the subsequent elections to be conducted and or those that may be declared winners cannot be expected to produce something radically different from the farce called 2007 general elections, most especially, if organised labour fails or refuses to proffer a viable pro-masses political challenge to the various layers of the locusts capitalist looters that would once again be all out to capture power at all cost.
To start with, all those whose “elections” have been nullified or those whose “elections” may yet be nullified by the Tribunals would still be allowed to continue to occupy their stolen mandates pending the time a supposed new elections would be conducted. In other words, the beneficiaries of these admittedly stolen mandates would, in the name of “rule of law” and “political stability” be allowed to remain in offices to continue to use state apparatuses and resources to fight their opponents in any so-called new elections that may be called. Head or tail, it is the masses interests that would remain unprotected in a contest exclusively dominated by the different set of exploiters, looters and political usurpers. Many understandably hailed the Supreme Court for nullifying the purported elections of the governors so far removed from office for not been supposed to be governors in the first instance. However, the declaration of elements that were never directly voted for by the people as governors has only succeeded in replacing on form of arbitrariness with another.
In the given situation, only turbulent social political turmoil lies ahead of the working masses. But notwithstanding the present difficulties created by lack of a focused and determined leadership, the Yar’Adua government will still face stiff resistance and rebuff from the vast majority of the working masses the more it becomes clearer that the Yar’Adua era is just “same of the same”, a continuation of mass misery and political repression. And here precisely lies the challenge. From our historical experience, the capitalist ruling class will never willingly give up their opulent living standard and their self-serving ego just for the interest of the masses. This is why the masses, in different ways, will be compelled to fight back individually and collectively.
Today, the main layers of the capitalist class are pretending to be committed to democracy, notwithstanding the fact that this so-called democratic dispensation is, in certain respects, much more militarised than what obtained under past military regimes. Thus, if the working masses failed to utilise several opportunities that will present themselves, in the coming period, to take political power and reconstruct society in the interest of the majority, then faced with constant economic and political crisis, the majority of the capitalist class nationally and internationally may yet be tempted to once again resort to open military dictatorship under the excuse of creating “political stability” needed for real development. Of course, far from being a way out for the masses, an outright military rule on the basis of the prevailing worldwide neo-liberal milieu will only bring forth unprecedented socio-political calamities on the working people, including a sharpening of the national question which may sharply threatens the continued existence of Nigeria as a corporate entity. Therefore, the immediate creation and development of a class conscious and viable pan-Nigeria working masses party to replace the current unjust order with a democratic socialist system remains the primary task facing working class and socialist activists.