EDO: Riggers Defeated, Adams is Governor!
Socialist Democracy â€“ Special Edition April 2008
EDO: Riggers Defeated, Adams is Governor!
Build a Mass Movement to Secure Change
The long delayed declaration of Adams Oshiomhole as the rightful winner of the April 14, 2007 governorship polls in Edo State was greeted by working people both in Edo and throughout the Federation with joy. Millions have seen it as a real defeat for the looters and also opening up the possibilities of real change.
The enthusiastic and lasting support for Oshiomhole did not come to us in the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) as a surprise. Way back in March, 2007, Socialist Democracy, the organ of the DSM, in a special publication titled: “VOTE ADAMS OSHIOMHOLE: YOUTHS AND WORKERS MUST FIGHT FOR A SOCIALIST CHANGE” had made the following comments on the then pending election in Edo State: “In most states of the country, there is palpable lack of enthusiasm towards the forthcoming general elections. In this respect, Edo State, where Adams Oshiomhole, the radical immediate past President of the NLC is running for governorship, stands out as a big exception to the rule. Such is the degree of enthusiasm which the Adams campaign has provoked among the masses, who generally would have been largely indifferent to the entire electoral process, that the talk now across the state has shifted from whether Adams stands a chance to win to that which says that any other candidate can only beat Adams through massive rigging and manipulations”.
For us therefore, the Edo State gubernatorial Election Tribunal, with its commendable ruling has merely reaffirmed the choice already made by the Edo voters. If the election had been genuinely free and fair, Oshiomhole ought to have been declared an outright winner abinitio without being put through the avoidable expenses and stress of having to claim his freely given mandate through the duration of the Election Tribunal in the first instance. However, the anti-poor capitalist politicians which had held Edo State and the country as a whole in bondage worked, as usual, to thwart the peoples’ aspiration and choice by returning the PDP candidate, who was massively rejected by the Edo State masses as the winner.
However, we in the DSM wish to sound a serious note of warning that the dangers posed by establishment forces of darkness are not yet completely over. As the March 2007 edition of Socialist Democracy cited above states: “The point should always be borne in mind that the incumbent ruling capitalist parties at the central and state levels totally lack scruple and respect for the masses’ opinions and aspirations. Most of these elements acquired and or are being able to maintain their present political positions through bribery and outright riggings and manipulations. Therefore, notwithstanding the present mass support, which Adams enjoys among the generality of Edo people, the PDP controlled government at the central and in Edo State will stop at nothing to rig the forthcoming elections in Edo State as well as other states of the federation”.
As elements that mostly thrive on masses’ misery and political manipulations, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, the impostor that has been ruining Edo State for the past 10 months and his gang of usurpers would stop at nothing to ultimately thwart peoples’ aspiration by reversing the decision of the Election Tribunal. In this respect, Adams Oshiomhole and all genuine pro-masses’, pro-labour forces must not relent for a second. This Tribunal decision is only the start, not the end, of the struggle to transform the working masses’ lives. Therefore a concrete programme of mass mobilisation built around ordinary masses must be immediately stepped up. The Tribunal’s verdict has proved beyond any reasonable doubt the widespread support, which Adams enjoys in Edo State. Now is the time to give concrete organisational expression to this support through a conscious creation of political network across the nooks and crannies of Edo State under the firm control of the masses and youth themselves who are eagerly seeking a fundamental change from their age long exploitation and misrule by the capitalist ruling class.
We are bold to state that only this approach will ultimately guarantee victory both at the Appeal Court and under Adams government.
THE TASK AHEAD
The success of the journey so far has been largely made possible by masses’ own efforts and intervention. Happily, Adams himself fully recognises this fact. While responding to his declaration by the Election Tribunal as the rightful winner of the governorship polls in issue, Adams had among other things stated: “This victory is not for me, but for the masses, the downtrodden people of Edo State who have fought for a change in the governance of this state. Let me assure the people of Edo State that together, we shall rule the state.”
Against the background of age-long years of misrule and perpetual corruption by the successive capitalist government (both military and civilian), Adams statement quoted above should ordinarily be seen as the beginning of a new dawn for the long suffering masses of Edo State. However, going by Nigeria’s recent history, there is usually a huge gap between what capitalist politicians say and what they actually do when in office.
Between 1984 and 1998, the Nigerian masses were held hostage by series of a highly repressive and corrupt military governments. Just like in Edo State today, it took series of titanic and protracted mass actions and resistance by the ordinary masses before the military usurpers were eventually forced out of power in May 1998. In fact, the President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who took over from the military can be easily likened to a proverbial child of destiny. Way back in 1995, Obasanjo and others had been arrested, tried and convicted over an alleged plot to overthrow the Abacha military junta. The military tribunal set up by the Abacha junta had in fact, sentenced Obasanjo to death before his verdict of death was commuted to fifteen years imprisonment. So, when Obasanjo emerged as President through the Abubakar Abdulsalami’s military transition programme in early 1999, there was a widespread hope across the country that a man who has gone through such travails as Obasanjo would do well to govern Nigeria in such a way that would help both the economy and at the same time achieve positive impact on the conditions of living of the ordinary masses. On his part, Obasanjo had equally given the impression of a God sent messiah who has come to take Nigeria out of wilderness into a new dawn.
In his inaugural presidential speech delivered on May 29, 1999, Obasanjo had among other things stated: “Fellow Nigerians, we give praise and honour to God Almighty for this day specially appointed by God himself. Everything created by God has its destiny and it is the destiny of all of us to see this day”. He stated further: “the incursion of the military government has been a disaster for our country and for the military for over the last 30 years.” According to Obasanjo, corruption had reached the proportions of a full-blown cancer, describing it “the greatest single bane of our society today”. Pledging to whip Nigeria into shape and to stamp out corruption wherever it might lurk, Obasanjo had further enthused: “There will be no sacred cows. Nobody, no matter who and where, will be allowed to get away with the breach of the law or the perpetration of corruption and evil”.
Eight years later, despite and in spite of the stupendous petrol dollars which accrued to the country under Obasanjo’s tenure, the economy and masses living standard were mostly worse off than they were before Obasanjo’s assumption as president. Throughout the period in issue, Obasanjo as president woefully failed to take sustained and substantial steps to fight corruption. Of course, more than any other former capitalist government, Obasanjo as president pretentiously took the most orchestrated steps purportedly fighting corruption. At the end of the day, Obasanjo’s tenure will go down in history as the most corrupt up till date. In addition, his government wholesale privatisation of public assets to individuals and capitalist corporations will go down in history as the mother of all corruption.
Under the so-called principle of monetisation and privatisation, government houses and assets that have been acquired since colonial times were sold and shared out by Obasanjo and his cronies together with top government officials who mostly used looted public funds purportedly to pay for these public assets. As we write and just to cite one example, it has been revealed that the Obasanjo government purportedly spent over $16 billion allegedly on the power sector. However, according to the ongoing probe of the power sector by the House of Representatives, it is clear beyond doubt that most of this amount was simply looted by top government officials and their dubious allies within the capitalist elites.
ADAMS AS THE EDO STATE GOVERNOR
Quite legitimately, there are many reasons for the ordinary masses of the Edo State to hope that Adams message of hope will not turn out as nightmare just like Obasanjo’s and other bourgeois politicians false messages of hope. To start with, Adams is a working class element who has grown up as a factory employee to become the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC). As a General-Secretary of the Textile workers union, Adams had acquitted himself as an achiever by building the union both materially and organisationally as one of the most viable industrial unions in the country. As President of the NLC, Adams had also helped to deepen the financial base of the organisation.
Under military rule, particularly under the Pascal Bafyau leadership, the NLC as an organisation had acquired a public reputation of a pro-establishment and pro-military body. Today however, after Adams eight years in office as NLC President, the NLC has been able to acquire the reputation of a defender of the masses’ interest. We in the DSM did not agree with everything that the NLC did during Adams’ leadership, in particular, we believe that a number of opportunities were lost to begin a serious challenge to the capitalist elite’s rule. But we recognise that it was precisely the NLC’s record of fighting Obasanjo that was the main reason responsible for the widespread support Adams campaign received among the ordinary masses of Edo State in the period before the 2007 general elections.
On his part, and throughout the period of the campaigns, Adams himself further helped to raise masses expectation by his promise to run a people centred government as Edo State governor. Against the standard neo-liberal anti-masses’ policies of all the current ruling parties and governments, Adams has made pledges to run a better-funded public education and healthcare programmes. In addition, he had also made promises to fight corruption and financial crimes, instil a culture of due process and transparency in transactions. And now after being declared the rightful winner of the Edo governorship election, he has now made an undertaking to rule Edo State together with the ordinary masses.
Against Adams pedigree, these and many other promises can be fulfilled provided the right things are done the right way. First and foremost, Adams needs to draw a clear conclusion that to attain many of his admittedly radical and progressive reforms and promises, he needs to make a total political break with the capitalist AC. This is because AC, like all other bourgeois ruling parties such as the PDP, ANPP etc, are only established for the aggrandisement and self enrichment of capitalist corporations and individuals at the expense of the masses’ interests. For instance, it is a known fact that many leaders of AC, just like other bourgeois parties, are proprietors/patrons of many private schools and health institutions. Unless based on genuine masses’ support, there is no way by which Adams could implement a significant and sustained improvement in public education and health sectors without a decisive break with this kind of elements.
Quite logically therefore, Adams needs to immediately leave AC and go back to Labour Party, his original political association, before he can seriously begin to talk of any positive fundamental change in the living standards of Edo masses under his tenure. Adams needs to mobilise active participation from Labour, youth and his wider supporters to campaign throughout Edo to explain why he has to leave the AC, what he intends to do and to build a grass roots movement based in every workplace, community, village and school that will help implement and run the programmes of change.
Already Adams faces a danger from the Edo state House of Assembly. Most of its members are made up of bourgeois politicians of PDP and AC extractions. Political power to these elements is merely an opportunity to loot. Even the much trumpeted due process in governance simply means that a job that ought not to cost more than a million naira can be awarded out to capitalist contractors for a sum of N50million provided all those that ought to authorise those expenditure agree to do so. We have already seen in the Second Republic how Balarabe Musa, then with the progressive PRP was, after less than two years in office, ousted as Kaduna Governor by the NPN dominated House of Assembly. The same threat will face Adams, although maybe not immediately, if he challenges the PDP without a mass support.
The DSM argues that there is little of permanence that can be achieved without a decisive break with bourgeois parties and its inherently corrupt contract system. But to successfully break with the capitalist system, Adams and all labour leaders will need to adopt a socialist alternative strategy which counter-poses public ownership of societal resources and working masses democratic control and management of same to the prevailing unjust capitalist order with its corrupt and arbitrary features. This of course, also underlines the urgency why Adams needs to go back to Labour Party immediately and help build it as a force for socialist change.
Of course, what we have in mind is that the current Labour Party will be transformed from its present virtual dormancy into a fighting organisation and defender of the masses’ interest, not only in Edo State but nationally. As just one of the 36 states of the federation, there is an objective limit to what can be achieved within the framework of Edo State alone. Today, one of the reasons for the special backwardness of the economy and social conditions of the people is because of the gross absence or inadequate presence of key infrastructures like electricity, water, functional transportation and communication network. Therefore, as long as governance at the central level and other 35 states remain in the hands of self-serving capitalist politicians, the potential rate of growth and development of the Edo State itself will be ultimately arrested. Hence, the urgent necessity of building the Labour Party as a viable political instrument of the masses both in Edo and all others states of the federation.
Again, we need to stress that the kind of Labour Party we have in mind has to be consciously built as an alternative masses’ party to all bourgeois parties and bourgeois politicians. This of course will immediately require Adams to jettison the false approach of hobnobbing with bourgeois politicians like Tom Ikimi, Tony Anenih and all others in that category. Adams needs to know and act on the basis of the fact that the interest of the ordinary masses and that of their exploiters and oppressors are irreconcilably opposed to one another and that no amount of diplomatic interactions can bridge that irreconcilable gap. Unless this is done, Adams belief that he can please the masses and at the same time, please these power dinosaurs will only end up in the betrayal of the ordinary masses.
To start with, the total amount of resources that will be at the disposal of the Edo State government will be so meagre when compared with the dire needs of the masses. Yet, from our historical experience, most of these meagre resources will end up in private pockets with or without due process in the disbursement of these funds.
Only a true masses’ democratic check and control of all government expenditure can drastically prevent corruption and mismanagement of state funds. But going by the experience of the AC government in Lagos State for the past nine years or so, the expectation that an AC government in Edo State will run a people oriented government is nothing but an illusion. Examined from all angles, Adams emergence as the Edo State governor represents an important milestone in the struggle of the masses for a genuine radical break with the self-serving politics of the capitalist elite. His victory clearly underlines the fact that radicalism pays. Contrary to the false perspective being pushed by the bourgeois politicians that without huge stolen money, you cannot win election, Adams victory in this regard, has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the masses are willing and are ready to vote for a proven radical, pro-masses’ elements.
On the basis of the mass expectation for a radical change in the conditions of living of the Edo masses and Nigerians in general, there now exists a bright prospect to use Adams government as a stepping stone to a higher level in the masses’ historic struggle for a permanent decent life. Adams, alongside the working masses in Edo must strive to achieve whatever improvement in living conditions that is possible. But at the same time, Adams must explain the limits on what he can do simply within Edo and use this, not as an excuse for inactivity, but as a justification for seeking to use his position in Edo to help build a national movement for change.
But to do this, Adams needs today to break with the AC and rejoin with the Labour Party and consciously strive to build the party as a party of the oppressed as against all forms of oppression within Edo and across the country, then the success of his administration will be well assured. If on the other hand, Adam refuses to quit the AC and team with the ordinary masses to build a genuine Labour Party, then his government will no doubt, in the end, constitute a big setback for the masses who would now be told by their class enemies that there is no any viable way out of the prevailing capitalist rot.
Therefore, in order to forestall this dreadful outcome, we urge Adams and all labour activists within and outside the trade unions to immediately take steps to convoke a special conference with a view to fashion out a concrete programme of action to build up Labour Party’s structures and activities in all states across the country. This is the only realistic way to ensure that the victory scored by the masses through the election of Adams in Edo State is not eventually stolen and or rubbished by capitalist exploiters and political usurpers.