Socialist Democracy special issue – August 2006
August Special Edition of Socialist Democracy
NCP: Right Wing NEC Seeks To Destroy Party’s Radical Tradition; Expels, Suspends Socialists and Left Opponents.
Segun Sango, Lagos Chair of the NCP and General Secretary of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) has been expelled by the Dr. Osagie Obayuwana led national leadership of the NCP. The expulsion letter signed by Mallam Yunusa S. Tanko, National General Secretary and dated July 24, 2006 reads:
“This is to formally notify you, that you have been expelled from the National Conscience Party for the following reasons:
1. Use of various media (internet, broadsheets and handbills amongst others) to disparage and impugn the integrity of elected National Officers of the NCP.
2. Resort to smear campaign by circulating widely your reply to a letter dated 18th March 2006 served on you on the directive of National Coordinating Council in which more invectives and insults were poured on National Officers of the NCP.
The above was considered in the light of your refusal to respect the provisions of the party constitution, which clearly make the election of the position of the National Deputy Chairman, a National rather than Zonal affair. The NCC views seriously your role in purporting to have organised a Zonal Congress at Ekiti (unknown to the party constitution) wherein you claim to have elected a new National Deputy Chairman in place of the duly elected and recognised incumbent, Mr. Femi Falana. Contrary to the history of the NCP, earlier position of the NCC on the matter and overwhelming superior argument you chose to remain adamant and unyielding and in fact orchestrated a disdainful and scornful walk-out on the NCC in session.
In the light of the above, the NCC unanimously resolved to invoke its powers under article 3.4 of the party constitution to expel you for your conduct, which in the opinion of the NCC amounts to anti party activity and the gross violation of the provisions of the party constitution.
You are by this letter directed to have ALL party materials in your possession handed over to the National Deputy Chairman South West in person of Mr. Femi Falana forthwith.”
On the basis of the party’s constitution, Sango’s purported expulsion is a complete farce, a nullity from the beginning. The expulsion in issue was said to have been based on Article 3.4 of the party constitution which states thus: “A member can only be expelled for anti-party activity or for conduct which in the opinion of the National Coordinating Council amounts to a gross violation of the provisions of this Constitution”.
But most fraudulently, the expulsion letter totally ignored and refused to cite Article 3.2 of the same constitution which states as follows: “No disciplinary action or actions taken or imposed on or against any member shall be valid unless such a member is informed in writing of the complaints against him/her and given a reasonable time and opportunity to defend himself/herself.”
The reason for this omission should be very clear. Up till today, Segun has never received any written complaints in respects of the grounds claimed by the NCP National leadership for his expulsion. Through a letter dated April 12, 2006, Sango was issued with a 35-point query by the Obayuwana led NEC. In his reply dated June 2, 2006, Sango responded point by point to every issue raised in the said query. Unable to validly base Sango’s expulsion on the aforesaid query, the national leadership has therefore unscrupulously created a new “anti party activity” to wit: “resort to smear campaign by circulating widely your reply to a letter dated 18th March 2006 served on you”. (The actual date on the letter being referred to is April 12, 2006. Whereas, the March 18 date cited was the date when the so-called NCC meeting held in Benin authorised the letter/query in issue – note by Socialist Democracy).
This, to say the least, is an outrageous procedure. What ought to have been considered by the querying body is the content of Sango’s reply and not the issue of its circulation. Even at that, the accusation of wide circulation is mischievous. Sango’s cited reply was in fact only copied to “relevant structures and certain personalities within the party”. What is criminal or “anti-party” in this? Assuming, without conceding that the said “wide circulation” is anti-party, why did the NCP national leadership fail and or refuse to serve a written complaint on Sango as demanded by Article 3.2 which prescribes procedure to be followed before any disciplinary action can be validly taken against party member?
Furthermore, one of the reasons given for Sango’s expulsion from NCP was “his role in purporting to have organised a zonal congress at Ekiti (unknown to the party constitution) wherein you claimed to have elected a new National Deputy Chairman in place of the dully elected and recognised incumbent Mr. Femi Falana … contrary to … overwhelming superior argument, you chose to remain adamant and unyielding and in fact orchestrated a disdainful and scornful walk-out on the NCC in session.”
On June 22 2006, the South West caucus of the party held a zonal council meeting in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State. The said meeting was attended by zonal council members from five of the six states constituting the Southwest chapter of the party. The resolution of the cited zonal council meeting was immediately sent to the party’s National General Secretary. Against this background, the description of the zonal council meeting as a “zonal congress” was a deliberate distortion and a mischief. Secondly, if Sango’s “role” in organising the said meeting was an “anti-party” activity, why is it that only him was expelled over this? Thirdly, if Sango “orchestrated a disdainful and scornful walk-out on the NCC in session” why did the national leadership fail or refuse to serve him a “written complaint” as demanded by Article 3.2 of the party’s constitution before taking disciplinary action against him under Article 3.4 of the same constitution? Fourthly, why should disagreement over constitutional interpretation be termed anti-party activity?
At the NCC meeting where the decision to expel Sango was taken, three other party leaders from Lagos State, Messrs Sina Odugbemi, State General Secretary, Demola Yaya, the state Research Director and DSM’s Labour Organiser, and Wale Balogun, NCP’s Chairmanship candidate for the Lagos Mainland Local Government and the newly elected National Deputy Chairman (Southwest), were queried and indefinitely suspended for staging a “disdainful” walk-out of the NCC. As we go to the press, we equally learnt that both the Osun State Chairperson of the party, Alhaji Waheed Lawal, and the party’s Legal Adviser and DSM member, Alfred Adegoke, have been suspended indefinitely for also staging “disdainful” walk out of the NCC in- session. In all these cited cases, no written complaint was served on any of the suspended members as demanded by Article 3.2 of the party constitution before disciplinary action was taken against them.
Under Article 6.3.1 of the party constitution, there are 18 substantive elective positions, plus “a number of ex-officio members such at every local government where the party has a branch shall be represented in the state executive committee.”
In flagrant violation of this constitutional provision and when no decision either legal or illegal has been taken to dissolve the state executive committee not to talk of the State Coordinating Council (SCC), the letter communicating Sango’s purported expulsion amongst other things directed Sango “to have ALL party materials in your possession handed over to the National Deputy Chairman South West in person of Mr. Femi Falana forthwith.” More than any other fact, this outrageous unconstitutional directive has clearly betrayed the mind-set of the Obayuwanna led right wing gang. The whole idea is to destroy the party leadership in its most vibrant, organised section, so as to pave way for its right wing liquidation of the party, in essence, within bourgeois political parties like the ANPP, AD, ACD, etc, a ruinous approach which is stoutly opposed to by the Lagos State NCP under Sango’s leadership as well as other leaders from Southwest NCP who have now been equally queried and suspended on the basis of the same spurious acts of “anti-party” activities.
One allegation which the right wing elements has frequently hurdled against Sango is that the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) where Sango doubles as the General Secretary, has “an overbearing negative influence on the NCP”. But this is an absolutely groundless charge. For instance, the current National Chairman and National General Secretary respectively come from Edo and Kaduna States. During the 2003 general elections, the party in Edo State only fielded Gubernatorial candidates and one or two other candidates for National Assembly seats, while the Kaduna State chapter on its part merely fielded a candidate for a seat in the House of Representatives! But unlike what obtained in most other areas where the NCP had too few members and as such, could not run candidates in the said elections or only ran symbolic candidates, the Lagos chapter of NCP contested the Gubernatorial, all the 3 Senatorial seats, all the 20 House of Reps seats and 38 out of 40 seats in the House of Assembly. Against all odds, against all the big ruling fraudulent capitalist parties, the Lagos State NCP in overall came third in these elections. In sharp contrast, virtually, all the states represented by “Chairmen and Secretaries” at the NEC/NCC in issue had no properly constituted state executives not to talk of having structures at local government and ward levels for interventions in the elections!
Therefore, the expulsion of Sango and suspension of several other key party leaders from the Southwest by the Obayuwana right wing gang could only be properly understood when x-rayed against the background of the internal debates/disputes that has been going on for sometime within the ranks of the party.
THE EXPULSION AS A CLIMAX OF A LONG STANDING INTERNAL DISPUTE
The expulsion of Segun Sango was merely a climax in the series of internal struggles for the central political direction of the NCP which has been going on for years particularly in the period before and immediately after Chief Gani Fawhinmi, the pioneer National Chairman stepped down from office at the inconclusive September 25, 2004 National Congress which held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. On the one side of this struggle were elements led by Dr. Osagie Obayuwana within the NEC under Gani’s leadership and later as the national chairman of the party.
It should be stressed that the Obayuwana led group is almost exclusively made up of big political names and high titled party functionaries. Nonetheless, these elements, over the years, have proved incapable and / unwilling to create bases for political and organisational support for party among the rank and file working class people and the poor in general in all their own areas of operations. Not unexpectedly therefore, the main political strategy of this group is to, one way or the other, subsume the party’s central electoral activities within the framework of an alliance with sections of the capitalist parties like the ANPP, AD, etc, all in the name of presenting a formidable political alternative to Obasanjo and his political appointees come 2007 general elections.
To this group, the Vice President Abubakar Atiku is a political ally simply because President Obasanjo is apparently opposed to him being picked as PDP candidate for 2007 presidential elections while totally ignoring the fact that Obasanjo and Atiku are totally agreed on the widely hated anti-poor, pro-rich, pro-IMF capitalist policies being implemented by Obasanjo regime! Segun Sango on the other hand belongs to the rank of socialists and other genuine change seekers, who politically and organisationally want the party to be distinctly and centrally built as a political, fighting instrument of the working masses in and out of elections. We have always consistently advocated that the NCP should take active part in the working masses agitation for decent living standard and political freedom whether in or out of political office.
We have always consistently advocated that the party should be built consciously as the organised platform through which the working masses can capture political power from all sections of the capitalist class who, over decades, have only proven their mettle in governance by making a few to become stupendously rich while keeping the vast majority in a state of irredeemable poverty in the midst of inexhaustible material and human resources. Flowing from our analysis, we have always campaigned for the building of a genuine pan-Nigerian working peoples’ political platform committed to the formation of workers and poor peasant government in order that the stupendous wealth of the country can be used to eradicate mass poverty.
Based on the above, we have always advocated that the NCP should never enter into any permanent political block with any section of the capitalist ruling class within PDP, ANPP, AD, etc. To the Obayuwana led right wing group, the above outlined position is totally unacceptable. And for this reason, Segun Sango and all those that think like him should be forced out of the party so that the right wing elements can actualize their dream of subsuming the NCP within capitalist formations like the ANPP, AD, etc, under the guise of a “progressive” coalition. Of course, recognizing the implacable opposition of Sango and others towards its opportunistic and destructive approach, the Obayuwana group had, right from the beginning of its ascendancy within the NCP hierarchy, started to employ various crooked means to undemocratically impose its view points on the party, without readiness to brook any form of opposition. Here, a few instances are cited, to buttress this conclusion.
THE DISSOLUTION OF ADEOLA SOETAN LED STATE EXECUTIVE IN OGUN STATE
The expulsion of Segun Sango by the Obayuwana right wing national leadership was merely a continuation of its ruinous pro-ruling class decision. Way back in the first part of 2004, Obayuwanna, leading majority of the active NEC members, (for one reason or the other most members of NEC were usually inactive) overnight took a decision to dissolve the state executive council of the party in Ogun State led by Adeola Soetan and also a member of the DSM. The central reason given by Obayuwanna and its right wing collaborators was the existence of “rival executives” in Ogun State. Up till today, nobody has been told of any officers of the “rival executives” besides the one led by Adeola Soetan!
In the aftermath of the baseless and unjust dissolution of the state executive led by Adeola Soetan, the Obayuwana led NEC majority organised a kangaroo state congress wherein new state executives were purportedly elected. Whereas Article 6.1.2 of the party constitution states thus: ” It shall be composed of members of the state Coordinating Council and a proportional members of delegates per Local Government membership of the party” Mr. Femi Falana, leading the electoral panel set up by the Obayuwanna led NEC majority to organise the kangaroo election simply made it an all comers affairs. In effect, the purported congress was packed with bussed-in elements mostly from Sagamu local government of the state where Ogbeni Lanre Banjo, a central figure within the Obayuwanna’s right wing dominated NEC comes from.
Sadly, the outcome of the election purportedly held at this fake congress has only succeeded in snuffing out the little mass activities and principled political opposition to the policies of the PDP ruling party in Ogun State. Looking back at the time when the Adeola led executives were in power and now, one fact stands out clearly – the ruling PDP government is totally without any organised political and structural opposition to its misrule. In other words, the right wing leadership has on its own killed the party within the state.
THE INCONCLUSIVE 2004 NATIONAL CONGRESS
The rejection by Segun Sango, the Lagos NCP and some leaders of the party, particularly from the southwest the undemocratic approach of the Obayuwana led NEC majority in preparation for the 2004 national congress is one major issue that reveals the morbid hatred of the right wing elements towards those who advocate and struggle to build the party as a weapon of mass resistance of the oppressed. Article 4.1.2 of the NCP constitution prescribes that National Congress of NCP shall be composed by members of the NEC, State Chairpersons and Secretaries and additional proportional delegates based on the numerical strength of the party in every state within the country. Confronted with the stark reality on this constitutional provision, the Lagos chapter of the party by virtue of its numerical strength and level of activity would have (and deservedly too) delegates than the combined number of the supporters of the Obayuwana led right wing group, they later simply threw overboard the relevant provision in the party constitution guiding the National Congress. At a NEC meeting attended by 4 members at Bauchi in 2004, it was resolved that the congress delegates should only be composed of equal number of persons per state. Outwardly, this seems democratic but in reality, it only means that hired individuals can be made to represent the party in the state where the party does not in reality exist and in consequence, use the majority assured by such fake majority to overwhelm the genuine activists from the few states where the party actually exist.
It was the vociferous opposition mounted against this undemocratic and constitutional subversion by Lagos NCP and some others from the southwest and which, at the venue of the congress, received the decisive support of pioneer chairman, Chief Gani Fawehinmi that prevented the Obayuwana rightwing leadership from totally hijacking the party at that stage.
Unable to conclude all the agenda slated for the 2004 National Congress, Obayuwana was chosen as the Acting National Chairman while Femi Falana was chosen, after due consultation with the party leaders from the southwest zone, as the Acting National Deputy Chairperson to replace Mr. Amitolu Shittu, who was under suspension from the party after being found guilty of gross misconduct for collecting financial compensation for a party member who had his hand chopped off in a factory accident and failing to remit same to the victim and beneficiary despite repeated calls on him to do so.
Until the January 2006 National Congress held in Lokoja, the Obayuwana rightwing leadership pretended that it was prepared to work with the radical wing of the party led by the Lagos State NCP. In order to ensure our participation at the 2006 National Congress, the Obayuwana led leadership had to generally make a big concession on the issue of proportional representation. This, of course, made it possible for Lagos NCP and others who support its position to take active part at the national congress. But right from the NEC/NCC meeting which held a few weeks after, the right wing now felt fully fortified to carry out their pro-capitalist policies. The first practical steps taken in this direction was the conscription of a few totally inactive members of the party from Lagos State to write a petition against Segun Sango and NCP leaders in Lagos State with demands that the Lagos State NCP leadership be dissolved
NATIONAL DEPUTY CHAIRPERSONS
For quite some time now, the southwest zonal council of the party has maintained the position that on the basis of article 5:1 of the NCP constitution, which states thus: “There shall be Zonal Council to coordinate the activities of the Party in each Zone. It shall consist of the National Deputy Chairperson elected from that Zone, the Chairperson and Secretaries of all the States comprising the Zone”, the election of the National Deputy Chairman (NDC) is not the responsibility of the National Congress nor that of NEC/NCC but strictly the prerogative of the members of the zonal council i.e. state Chairperson and Secretaries. Against this clear constitutional, democratic and historical reasons behind the correctness of this constitutional provision, the right wing leadership of Obayuwana has insisted on a jaundiced interpretation of the party constitution so that it can use its artificial majority in the party leadership to impose its own right wing fellows as National Deputy Chairpersons (NDCs).
Suffice to stress, this approach has only created a state of absurdity and mockery of democracy within the party. For instance, while 4 out of the 6 states that make up the southwest zone of the party held a zonal council meeting and elected Mr. Wale Balogun as the NDC for southwest to replace Femi Falana who for the almost 2 years period he was an acting NDC, refused to call a single zonal council meeting, the right wing leadership led by Obayuwana insists that Falana is the authentic NDC for southwest zone.
THE EXPULSION AND CALCULATION FOR 2007
Against this background, Segun Sango expulsion is merely the first step in the predetermined agenda to totally neutralize the influence of the radical elements within the NCP against the national leadership’s unprincipled romance and rapprochement with sections of the hated bourgeois class. Few weeks ago, the Nigeria Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar granted an interview wherein he claimed to have friends within NCP and some other parties. These elements also include the pro-Tinubu AD, like Femi Falana, who only joined the party after his ambition to become the governorship candidate of AD was thwarted. Part of the grand design of the Obayuwana led leadership is to railroad the party into collaboration/alliance with the bourgeois parties like the AD, ANPP, etc, all in the name of presenting a formidable political alternative to Obasanjo and/or what they represent.
Against this approach, Segun Sango and other leaders of the parties, especially from the southwest, had always argued against this and instead, argued for conscious political orientation of the party towards the ordinary working masses and the labour movement in general. We, for instance, argue that the NCP leadership should make express overture towards the trade unions, particularly the NLC whose NEC recently asked its outgoing President, Adams Oshiomhole to run for presidency or any other elective post, with a view to fashion out a broad independent working class alternative to all the capitalist parties in the forthcoming 2007 general elections. Instead, the Obayuwana led leadership prefers to court General Mohammed Buhari, an ex-military ruler and former presidential candidate of the second biggest capitalist party, the ANPP. But for the staunch opposition of the Lagos NCP leadership led by Segun Sango, the Obayuwana leadership would not hesitate to openly proclaim the neo-liberal capitalist Governor of Lagos State, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and his fellow capitalist politicians within the AD as progressives merely on the basis of their supposed opposition to Obasanjo’s third term ambition.
Lacking any serious political and organisational support among the rank and file members of the party within Lagos State, the Obayuwana leadership is certainly not in any doubt that the purported expulsion of Segun Sango from the party will be rejected by rank and file members in Lagos State and also in the majority of southwest state chapters maintaining general political positions and solidarity with Segun Sango. When this happens, the leadership will move into its second diabolical phase by totally dissolving the party leadership in the state and in its place, put up a hand picked caretaker committee that would unquestionably implement its pro-ruling class agenda. Already, certain leaders of the party from other southwest state chapters who walked out with the Lagos State leadership based on the undemocratic and crude methods of the leadership to force its position on the party have been suspended from the party and given queries to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against them within 7 days of receipt of the queries and suspension letter.
BLEAK AND UNCERTAIN FUTURE
This negative development sadly constitutes a big blow to the hopes and aspirations of the pioneer members and founders of the NCP who consciously wanted to build a political platform that could be used as an instrument of struggle to wrestle powers from self-serving capitalist politicians. It should be recalled that the party came into being as a result of the monumental act of betrayal exhibited by all the main stream capitalist politicians including its so-called progressive fraction which later metamorphosed into AD, particularly in the wake of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Chief MKO Abiola.
The unprincipled collaboration of all layers of the main capitalist politicians in the said annulment and their subsequent peaceful acquiesce to continuation of military rule made most radical sections of the struggling masses and youths to embrace the idea of creating a new pro-masses party as articulated by Chief Gani Fawehinmi. While all layers of the capitalist politicians chose to obey the dictate of the then military junta’s ban on political parties and activities, the pioneer NCP members defied all threats to their lives to launch NCP on October 1, 1994. And for this courageous act, many of its founding members in many states, including Gani, its pioneer chairman suffered arrests, physical assaults, prolonged detentions under the military junta. While all layers of the capitalist politicians, including those of the ANPP and AD uncritically participated in the military transition programme which ushered in the current pervasive corrupt civilian rule across the country, the NCP under Gani leadership led vociferous agitation for the convocation of a democratically elected Sovereign National Conference (SNC).
Between 1999 and 2002, all ruling capitalist politicians within the executive and legislative combined and colluded to prevent the registration of new parties like the NCP, despite the fact that the 1999 imposed military constitution actually made a relatively democratic provision for formations of political parties. In all its controlled areas, both the ANPP and AD have shown beyond any reasonable doubt that they are as corrupt and anti-people as the PDP, the central ruling party, and that the only difference is that both ANPP and AD have far less to steal compared with the PDP which controls the country’s national resources.
Against this background, the current collaboration and romance of the Obayuwana led right wing gang, with bourgeois politicians within the ANPP, AD, etc, even including Atiku, the Vice President from PDP, is the height of betrayal. Yes, we know very well that the task of building a formidable masses oriented political party that can successfully discharge capitalist exploiters from power is a daunting task which could not be solely executed by the meagre human and material resources at the disposal of the NCP. And it is precisely for this reason that Segun Sango and others who think like him have always advocated that the party must be primarily built with an orientation towards the entire working masses.
In the past seven years, about seven country-wide general strikes and mass protests had taken place against the anti-poor fuel policy of the Obasanjo regime. Severally and collectively, these strikes/protests shook the government to its foundations. Therefore, if the NCP and all pro-labour, pro-masses elements that participated in these struggles should come together politically with a programme of action and a coherent package of policies articulated to address the basic needs of the working masses, then we have no doubt that a viable masses political alternative platform can be rapidly built to challenge the bourgeois parties for power come 2007 general elections. We argue that even if the kind of working masses party being advocated is not strong enough to win power from the ruling class come 2007, if properly rooted among the masses and stay focused on their needs, it will surely be strong enough to bid for power sooner than later.
Recently, Mr. Kunle Sanyaolu, a Senior Editorial staffer of The Guardian and political analyst, in The Guardian publication of July 23, 2006, page 55, wrote an article titled “Political Parties As Hope 2007”. The write-up which was meant to be a political appraisal of the current state of the parties in general has this to say on NCP: “In the prelude to the 2003 election, the party that impressed me most is the National Conscience Party (NCP). It not only presented a manifesto that addressed the crux of the country’s current problems, the party attached to its programme a measurable plan of action verifiable by interested persons. But all that was not to see the light of day. As it were, the NCP has helplessly watered down because the deep poverty of the Nigerian people has prevented them from viewing the party as nothing more than just another political party.”
Here, Mr. Sanyaolu has sharply hit the nail on the head! The NCP of today is largely in a state of dormancy compared with its pre-2003 general elections vibrancy built on “a measurable plan of action verifiable by interested persons”. But what Mr. Sanyaolu does not know and could not have known, as an outsider, is that the current deplorable state of affairs within the NCP has more to do with the bankrupt and opportunistic outlook and conducts of its right wing leadership much more than the paucity of resources and mass poverty that pervades society. When compared with the resources at the disposal of the party between 1994 and 2003, the Obayuwana leadership has greater advantage when the INEC financial subsidy being paid to political parties is fully taken into account.
Therefore, the responsibility for the dwindling political fortune of the NCP must be squarely placed where it belongs- on the shoulders and necks of the Obayuwana led right wing NEC members.
The NCP is at a crossroads. Will it degenerate into just another of the competing groups of place seekers or will it play its part in building a real alternative for the Nigerian poor masses? Whatever happens, we in DSM will continue the struggle for a working peoples’ alternative in genuine collaboration with all those who share this goal.
– No expulsions of activists and socialists from the NCP. Reinstate those unjustly expelled. Defend party democracy within the NCP.
– Build a campaigning NCP.
– No to deals with rotten bourgeois politicians and parties.
– For an immediate election of the sate exco in Ogun State strictly based on the party constitution.
– The NCP to help take the initiative to approach and involve other radical and labour forces to build a working peoples’ political alternative for 2007.
If you are dissatisfied with various anti-poor government policies being implemented by Obasanjo’s imperialist government at federal level together with policies being implemented at states level and you are interested in fight-back against these policies; if you are for genuine internal democracy within parties and governance in general, the organisation to join is the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM). We work in NCP, Labour (LASCO), communities, students’ movement, youth organisations, etc. You can help spread DSM ideas and further its activities by making regular donation to the organisation and also by helping to sell/distribute DSM publications.
Please, contact us at DSM secretariat at 162, Ipaja Road, Agbotikuyo Bus Stop, Agege, Lagos. Tel: 017617302, 08037127929, 08053045953. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org