JONATHAN’S NATIONAL CONFERENCE: AN EXPENSIVE SIDESHOW
JONATHAN’S NATIONAL CONFERENCE: AN EXPENSIVE SIDESHOW
By Segun Sango
Socialist Party of Nigeria
Democratic Socialist Movement
“Jonathan is set to release by mid-February the modalities for the convocation of the proposed national conference, The Guardian has learnt. Contrary to earlier expectations, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) or any organ of government will not be involved in the election of delegates to the conference.
“Rather, delegates to the conference will come via nominations to the secretariat by different professional, cultural, ethnic, religious groups that would be announced later. These groups are expected to conduct their own elections and send their chosen delegates to the conference secretariat, which will then collate the nominations.” (The Guardian, January 19, 2014).
This huge and expensive joke is what Jonathan and capitalist ruling elite are calling national dialogue or conference. The Socialist Party of Nigeria urges the working masses and the poor not to give any iota of support to this cynical game which the capitalist ruling elite are enacting to maintain their strangle-hold on Nigerians people and resources.
Yes there are so many important social-political issues on the origin of the Nigeria and its current shape that can benefit from a sincere approach at redress. However, as socialists we know too well that President Jonathan and all capitalist ruling elite can never bring forth or implement policy that can make Nigeria and its people to fully and truly actualize their social-economic potentials.
Pretentious Political Prognosis
According to the edition of the guardian quoted above Jonathans national conference is not expected to last more than 3 months. This is because the President wants it to be conducted within a space of 3 months so that the conference doesn’t affect the governance process and preparations and run-up to the 2015 elections. As the conference is on, “governance must go on”. From this, conscious working class and youth activists must see that Jonathan’s national conference is just another business as usual!
According to capitalist strategists and authors of Jonathan side show of a dialogue/confab “The conference is not a last bus stop to solve Nigeria’s problem but a pivotal driving force. This will be a momentous event in the life of this nation. And for this President, this conference is more important than the 2015 elections because if it is successful, it will herald a new era of value-oriented politics and transparency in the conduct of government business in the country. There will be an agreeable platform to move the nation from where we are right now to where we ought to be. That is the goal.” (The Guardian, January 19, 2014)
To say the least, this is a pretentious political prognosis. Jonathan’s national dialogue/conference will not have any legal or political authority. There will be no elections of delegates. Organizations claiming to represent different “professional, cultural, ethnic and religious groups” will be asked to nominate their own delegates. This of course would be supplemented by required number of elements chosen by the government itself to save the self-serving agenda of the current capitalist ruling elite. The full details of government plan in this respect is expected to be released mid February. If the national dialogue/conference holds, there will only be two practical gainers. The first are the delegates who will undoubted pocket substantial fees and expenses. Secondly will be the opportunity presented to Jonathan and other capitalist elites to perfect their pro-rich, imperialist/capitalist rule and oppression against the background of the infighting between the different sections of the capitalist ruling elites over who would retain or grab political powers come 2015 general elections!
The Left and Issue of National Conference
Under special political situations such as under military dictatorship, socialists would give utmost support and attention to a demand for a national, democratic Conference/Assembly. This would be politically essential to pose a working peoples’ democratic alternative to military dictatorship. Equally, where the ruling capitalist government is forced by the peoples’ struggle like the recent defeat of capitalist/military regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, to avoid powers being retained by the same forces just defeated by mass uprising, socialists would energetically urge leaders of the masses’ organizations and youths to fight for a provisional revolutionary government that is immediately prepared to proffer democratic alternative to dictatorship. Ultimately, permanent economic and political respite can only be guaranteed to the masses of different nationalities within Nigeria and other countries, when the ruling capitalist forces are politically defeated and the economy and politics of society is deliberately and democratically run to meet the needs of the masses and not the profit and privileges of the minority ruling elite as has been the case under the rule of all property owners either of feudal, military and civilian regimes.
To be in a political situation where this is possible, the working masses must have successfully removed from power the ruling capitalist elite. At the recent Joint Action Front (JAF) congress, a representative of the Socialist Workers League (SWL) speaking from platform argued that JAF should “engage” Jonathan’s national confab, conference/dialogue and stridently concluded that JAF would be making a big political error if the organization refuses to “engage” the proposed political side show being sponsored by Jonathan and other capitalist forces. Socialists in the DSM and SPN urge the working masses and youths not to dissipate their energy supporting in any form the parody of a national conference/dialogue being sponsored by Jonathan and other capitalist rulers/leaders.
According to capitalist strategists and authors of Jonathans dialogue/confab “for the presidency the dialogue is to agree on how to have a strong union. No one is expected to come to argue for separation. Rather, the conference is to resolve contentious issues that impede the nation’s match to greatness”.
To complete the farcical nature of Jonathan’s national dialogue, no single delegate will be elected by sections of the masses, rather delegates would be exclusively made up of “nominees of different professionals, cultural, ethnic, religious groups that will be announced later”. Billions of naira would be spent wasted on the provision of necessary logistics including accommodation and honorarium for the execution of this “side show” which from the beginning lacks any political or legal authority and power.
To pro-capitalist/nationalist activists and their shadows with socialist labels, this will be opportunistically rationalized by arguing that their own participation in this “side show” dialogue/confab is to demand “that the decisions and outcomes of the national conference should only be subjected to a referendum and this process should produce a brand new constitution for Nigeria”.
Here, it is important to recall that Jonathan and the capitalist authors of this “sideshow” do not expect the dialogue/confab to last more than three months. Immediately afterwards the 2015 general elections will become the main pre-occupation of all capitalist elements of all nationalities. Under this scenario, the possibility of the decisions and outcomes of the conference being subjected to a referendum becomes a mere pipedream. Even if it is subjected to a referendum, the current failed capitalist elements and rulers would be in power to organize such an exercise in style of the typical capitalist farcical elections seen in Nigeria! Furthermore such a referendum would itself not be democratic as it would only allow the Nigerian masses the chance to vote “yes” or “no” to a new constitution drawn up by a completely unelected body.
Instead of pursuing this political dead end, socialists urge organizations and individuals that truly support the actualization of the economic and political aspirations of the people to immediately intensify efforts to proffer a political alternative/platform that is committed to the achievement of a working peoples’ government which will under democratic control and management of the elected representatives of the working masses, poor farmers and the youths. Such government must be committed to institute a socialist reorganization that will ensure that Nigeria’s (to start with) and world abundant human and natural resources are collectively harnessed to meet the economic and political needs of the people.