Adams Victory Shows Potential for Revolution
Adams Victory Shows Potential for Revolution
Reports Olisa Penny, Socialist Democracy Political Correspondent in Edo state
The 20th March 2008 woke with mixed feelings. That was the day set for the ruling on the Edo state governorship tussle. The day had been an eerie silence for seven hours (from 9am-3pm). Ears had been glued to the screen and radio, and the streets had been a graveyard – deserted by men and women weighted down by political calculations. But it was not a desertion. It was a communal, group gathering around TV sets in villages, hamlets and cities.
The quiet gave way to wild jubilation immediately the chairman of the tribunal announced Adams the winner. Bottles of beer from nowhere filled the sheds. Meanwhile, about 5,000 policemen deployed to keep people in check had been overwhelmed and shocked by an outpouring of people onto the streets, nothing doing but solidarise with the joyous masses. Sweet is the taste of victory. That day, from 3pm to 9pm, taxis and buses were virtually free as you gave whatever you had to the driver. Some youth declared beer and palm-wine free at Utese, Ohen and Ugbuwe villages. Farmers, youth, women took out their brooms and literarily swept the feet of PDP out of Edo state – good riddance to bad rubbish. The feel of change, an indication for wild expectation and fulfilment of better life filled the air. From Iguebeh, the home of the rascal AC chieftain, Tom Ikimi, news broke that roads were closed to travellers and they had been advised to relax at home with bottles of beer-free of charge. ‘Revolution” is the festival of the oppressed.
Such wild jubilation all over the state without a single window pane broken testifies to the immense popularity of Adams Oshiomhole. People recall how he fought as a labour leader to reduce fuel prices and against the anti-people policies of the heinous Obasanjo regime. Now he is mystic – the one the grinding, corrupt and murderous machine of PDP could not stop. The lion who smothers the fire of Anenih – the PDP chief rigger. Oshiomhole has been transposed from an ordinary labour leader to an all-time conqueror, the “Edo nightmare”.
Where then did the PDP get all those votes? From the palaces, park inhabiting thugs, from slums of despaired and looted minds. But the tribunal still underestimates Adams votes and overestimated PDP’s. Anyway, Adams definitely won with more the 30,000 votes the tribunal recorded. His victory in that election, had it been “free and fair”, would have been more that 85% of total votes.
WHAT DO THE PEOPLE NEED?
Adams in addressing the crowd after the judgment had said, “the victory is for the masses”, that is the victory will be translated into concrete need of the people. How will this be done? The people of Edo state have been living in hell in the last nine years. Thousands have been sent out of employment, hundreds of thousands are in subsistence farming, thousands roam the streets making the state one of the most crime-prone in the Nigeria. This has informed the basis for the wild call for change.
A fast solution is needed to palliate the deluge. Adams needs to draw a plan that stretches the needs of today with the requirements of the future. A programme of massive road rehabilitation and construction that opens the village to the centre. A massive rebuilding of the primary, secondary education and a re-orientation. A massive water project in villages and the cities. Edo state is the proverbial bucket of water that cannot drink its content. Agricultural centres fully equipped and planned to accommodate unemployed local people have to be built in all the local governments that are not in the cities. Such initiatives are needed to starve off despair but they will not be enough to guarantee the need of the people. In trying to do this, Adams cannot simply act on his own. If such plans are to be implemented a mass movement needs to be built to implement a serious programme of change, to participate in governance and defeat the inevitable counter-attacks of the robber elite. There must be popular debates on the direction of government at local levels. The public sector must cease to be a machine burdened by the profit which the big men make by milking it. Working people and the poor need to take total control of their lives and not surrender it to some few managers at the top or some good men like Adams.
Adams is a sheep in the midst of wolves. When he was proclaimed Governor Adams declared “Today, the godfathers are gone”. But they have not. The big political rogues like in most of the states still have a central plan to rob the people to their skin. A stand-off between this attitude and decency will necessarily draw ire from the traditional looters – they have no jobs, they rely on the state treasury to pick their bills and their excesses. Should Adams want to ‘succeed’, he needs to completely break away from these big-for-nothing-thieves. Again sensing danger of independence, these elements will combine with the House of Assembly where the PDP has a majority, to give Adams problems. This has happened before in the case of Governor Balarabe Musa of Kaduna state during the Second Republic. He was eventually removed because NPN had a majority. The same scenario is playing out in Anambra. Adams needs to study these two situations but upon all, he needs to take the masses into confidence, organise them into a bulwark against frustration or impeachment and to break the power of reaction.
But the threat will not just come from within Edo. Nationally, all the rival thieving gangs stand in fear of the working masses and poor standing up and stripping them of their power and wealth. They will seek to ensure that either Adams fails to carry out real change or that he becomes a pawn, a paper lion, in their hands. Determined struggle can win some improvements in Edo by acting against corruption and demand more resources from the oil rich national treasury. But these improvements will be limited so long as Edo is isolated. If he is going to succeed, Adams must be prepared to use the Edo Governorship as a platform with which to inspire the working masses throughout Nigeria to struggle for fundamental change and breaking with capitalism and imperialism.
Adams’ victory shows that struggle pays. His victory has given confidence to ordinary people. They believe now in their own capacity to effect change. The victory of Adams is, in the end, the victory for struggle, patience, and shows the potential for revolution. People want change but are sceptical. Adams faces a test, if no serious positive change happens in Edo and if there is no challenge to Yar’Adua’s neo-liberal policies of privatization and commercialization of social services, then Adams too will disappoint. Tragically Adams reversed his initial decision to run as the LP candidate and stood on the AC ticket. But as Lagos state shows, the AC is not a vehicle for the working masses wanting change. Whether Adams goes back to the LP or not, the LP has an opportunity to build in Edo a genuine mass platform that includes the majority of the young people who rallied around Adams.
Such independent action is needed to raise the banner of working class party that will rally the poor of the cities and the villages together in the struggle against the godfathers and looters and for real change based upon ending capitalism and using, for the first time, the country’s resources in the interests of the many and not the few.