Socialist Democracy special issue – February 2006
Socialist Democracy special issue – February 2006
REMOVAL OF GOVERNOR LADOJA AND THE LABOURING MASSES
On 12 January, 2006, Chief Rashidi Ladoja was removed from office by the factional majority of the Oyo State House of Assembly, as the governor of Oyo State.
However, a critical appraisal of the process through which Ladoja’s removal was effected clearly shows that the PDP leadership at the state and federal levels are nothing short of lawless brigands. While passing laws that threaten trade unions and seek to hinder working people’s struggles, the PDP has no hesitation in breaking and trampling upon any “legal” obstacles to its rule and looting.
IMPUNITY, AS LOOTERS FIGHT
The removal of Ladoja as governor of Oyo State constitutes a gross violation of both constitutional and all democratic norms. Nonetheless, it is totally misleading and groundless to pretend that this particular violation is in any way special or represented an exception to the general rule. On the contrary, the conducts of most government officials, including the so-called elected ones at the central, state and local council levels since 1999 when Nigeria once again came under civil rule, have, on the whole, been characterised by executive, legislative and judicial violation of constitutional provisions and all democratic norms with impunity.
The presidency under General Olusegun Obasanjo has, on several occasions, flagrantly, violated the constitutional provisions. Several attempts, originating from the presidency, have been made to unconstitutionally remove Chris Ngige as governor of Anambra State. The federal government backed thugs headed by one Chris Uba, the estranged god-father of Ngige, who unleashed massive and pre-meditated killings of persons and destruction of public properties in Anambra State still walk the streets freely with nothing ever done to apprehend these hoodlums, let alone bringing them to justice. Chris Uba told the whole world that Chris Ngige did not win the governorship election in Anambra State in 2003 and that it was himself that led the massive vote riggings that gave victory to the PDP. For this top crime, the PDP national leadership under the firm grip of Obasanjo recently rewarded Uba with a seat on its Board of Trustees in apparent anticipation of 2007 general elections!
Few months ago, the ruling party, PDP, which produced President Obasanjo and most of the state governors of the country held its convention in gross violation of its own constitution and against express orders of the courts created under the Nigeria constitution. Under Obasanjo’s presidency, the disobedience to court order has acquired semi-legitimacy as the government chooses which orders to obey and which not to obey.
Coming back to Oyo State itself, Ladoja himself and his government was entirely a product of brazen manipulations of the PDP’s constitution and that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is a known fact that Ladoja did not democratically win the nomination of his party, the PDP, before being fielded as the party’s candidate in the 2003 general elections. His emergence as the party’s candidate was the consequence of the bare faced electoral manipulations carried out by Lamidi Adedibu with the active connivance of the national officers of the PDP and the presidency.
Furthermore, the subsequent “victory” of Ladoja in the 2003 elections as well as the “victories” of most other politicians in the said elections had more to do with the electoral manipulations and riggings by the capitalist politicians across the country than the wishes of the electorate. Not unexpectedly, his conducts throughout the period he was in power was a total disappointment to the vast majority of the ordinary people of Oyo State. Apart from the fact that his government had nothing materially positive it could claim to have implemented for the masses, his short but inglorious era on many occasions was characterized by acts bothering on executive rascality. As a governor, he carried out the removal of Chief Judge of Oyo State and subsequently disobeyed, with impunity, several court orders on the same matter.
During Ladoja’s tenure as the governor of Oyo State, bye-elections were conducted into some local councils. In Ibarapa local council, the candidate of the AD won the chairmanship election but despite the orders of the Electoral Tribunal and Appeal Court, Ladoja blatantly refused to swear the winner in until his own unconstitutional and inglorious removal from power. In varying degrees, this is the kind of executive and legislative rascality that has dominated the feature of governance under Obasanjo presidency since 1999.
The point therefore must be stressed that this deplorable state of affair is the direct consequence of the contrived and largely undemocratic transition programme mid-wifed by the erstwhile military junta. Both in content and form, that transition programme was designed and executed primarily to ensure the victory of only looters and anti-poor politicians who would not be interested in or prepared to call the military to account for their years of impunity and despoliation of the country. For this central reason, parties and candidates were imposed, while the constitution, which is supposed to be the primary law of the country, was written by an unelected military cabal without any form of consultation or approval of the people.
The above points are made not to diminish, in any sense, the gravity of the current constitutional violations perpetrated in the process of the removal of Ladoja as the governor of Oyo State, but rather, to stress the fact that this kind of deplorable trend is the only certain outcome of the kind of the transition/elections which brought about the kind of elements we have in government, across the country today.
From this point of view, the kind of constitutional violation just witnessed in Oyo State will not only continue but in fact, become more widespread in the medium and long term basis if the working masses are unable to proffer an alternative political governance to that which is presently constituted by the various self-serving ruinous locusts masquerading as political leaders across all the capitalist ruling parties throughout the country.
For us in the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), who have all along been calling on the labour movement, particularly the trade unions, to play a more active role politically, the response of the NLC leaders in both Oyo State and at the national level in the unfolding Pandora going on in Oyo State was a very correct initiative. Unfortunately however, this correct initiative was only used to put forward a utopian bourgeois agenda instead of coming up with a package to politically strengthen the interests of the masses.
On Sunday 15 January, 2006, the Council of Industrial Unions in the Oyo State directed workers to stay away from their duty posts and that they should only resume duty when President Olusegun Obasanjo had “declared the rightful” governor of the state and given “assurance for the security of the lives of workers”. A communiqué issued by the leadership of the unions in part states: “The leadership of the unions are confused, disturbed and worried about the conflicting claims by Ladoja to return to office on Monday (16/01/06) and the counter claim by Alao-Akala of being in charge of governance, which has left the lives of workers threatened and endangered”.
In a statement titled: “Rule of Law Must Be Upheld In Oyo State”, the NLC national leadership amongst others states: “Congress maintains that the Nigerian constitution and the pronouncements by the judiciary remain the basis of resolution of all matters and problems…Given the avoidable killings, mayhem and reckless use of firearms by policemen and thugs that have characterized this conflict in the recent past, it is necessary to call on the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja and the Deputy Governor, Otunba Alao Akala, and their respective supporters and principals to ensure that the situation does not get out of hand. They have a duty to ensure that workers and the public are safe and are not molested. Therefore, we call on all parties to the current crisis to respect the rule of law”.
Evident from the above quotations, the NLC leaders expect that their positions, if implemented, will not only be a victory for “the rule of law” but will, at the same time, practically guarantee the safety of lives of workers and members of the public in general in the festering political gangsterism in Oyo State.
However, a critical appraisal of labour leaders demands and approach clearly shows that none of the lofty ends expected will come to pass either in the immediate or long-term basis. Very sadly too, their approach towards the issues of democratic and economic rights, clearly shows how pro-capitalist and how far removed they are from the realities and aspirations of the ordinary working masses.
Labour leaders in Oyo State called on President Obasanjo to state who is the “rightful governor” between Ladoja and Alao Akala, the replacement installed by political godfather Lamidi Adedibu. This is a most unfortunate demand coming from labour leaders. Every averagely politically conscious person knows that the unconstitutional manner with which Ladoja was removed as governor by the 18 pro-Adedibu members of the State House of Assembly could not have been carried through without the active partisan backing of President Obasanjo’s regime. This demand therefore is totally unjustifiable. It is totally unprincipled and devoid of reasonable focus. It is like inviting armed robbers to probe pick pockets.
The call by the national leadership of the NLC “on all parties to the present crisis to respect the rule of law” is at best a wishful thinking or much more worse, a manifestation of chronic incapacity to face the reality of Nigeria’s contemporary history. How possible is it to expect elements whose power, from the beginning, arose and rested on suppression and subversions of rule of law, elements who came to power through grand scale thuggery, financial, electoral and judicial manipulations to now begin to play according to rule of law?
But if only to stress it one more time, Ladoja did not become governor on the basis of application of rule of law either during the PDP governorship candidate’s primary or the 2003 general election. Most significantly too, neither Adedibu nor Ladoja faction has relied essentially on rule of law in its morbid struggle for self-serving power. So far, both sides have heavily relied on armed thugs whose main leaders are sourced from the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) factions in Oyo State. And talking about NURTW, the point should always be borne in mind that this is more of a union of street-wise exhorters and muscle men (who live on fat commissions daily forced out of genuine transport drivers and workers) as opposed to conventional trade unions, at least in most of its conduct and history.
In a very simplistic fashion, the NLC leaders believe that re-instating Ladoja as Oyo State governor on the basis of a Court Order exhausts the concept of rule of law. This, however, is far from the truth. Under bourgeois jurisprudence, the pro-Alao Akala could and would ultimately get another Court Order to stay action of the implementation of the Order which declared Ladoja’s removal as illegal. In fact, under the prevailing rule of law and its actual practice, the ensuing legal battle over who is the lawful governor of Oyo State could and would most likely drag on in courts, on and on, till even the expiration of the constitutional tenure of the current administration! Yet, a very cardinal pillar of rule of law is also that once a matter becomes a subject of litigation or is before a court of law, neither parties or their supporters must do anything else but wait for the court’s final decision! The truth should be told, the rule of law is primarily designed to perpetuate the current anti-poor, capitalist order. Consequently, the working masses in their struggle to change this unjust system, must be prepared at all times, to place premium on their own democratic mass actions, not circumscribed by a so-called rule of law imposed by the capitalist rulers, their mortal opponents.
ERA OF UNMITIGATED POVERTY WAGES
As we write, the N29 billion Business Resort Project in Calabar, Cross River State has been shut down indefinitely. This was sequel to a massive demonstration carried out by the youths from the host Adibo community. According to The Guardian of Friday, January 20, 2006, the protesting youths amongst other things, complained of poor pay, saying: “We work from 6.am to 6.pm and get only N10, 000”. However, from bourgeois point of view, this kind of suffocating exploitation does not offend the rule of law. As far as bourgeois jurists would argue, the workers concerned are free to accept or reject such dehumanising contract, of course without stating what better option they have! Much worse, many of the elements protesting this unjust order will end up being detained and or sacked under the pretext that their demonstrations violated rule of law. How therefore, can labour leaders correctly argue before such victims that rule of law is “the basis for resolution of all matters and problems”?
The poverty wages syndrome, which provoked the Calabar protest cited above, is sadly the dominating feature of employment in contemporary Nigeria. Things have been so bad that even members of the Nigeria Police are once again threatening to go on strike to press for better pay.
Increasingly, most workers that are lucky to get any job at all are forced to do so under conditions which virtually forbid trade union rights. Every worker is virtually at the whims and caprices of the employer who is at liberty to hire and fire without recourse to any just rule. Today, employers in both public and private sectors violate with impunity the relatively few pro-workers enactments in the country’s law.
Yet, under the prevailing legal dispensation, the rule of law gives employers the right to subject hapless working class people to poverty wages and at the same time, prescribe several legal obstacles designed to suppress their possible resistance. Why most members of the police receive an atrociously poverty wages, the bourgeois rule of law in Nigeria totally forbids them to form trade unions to fight for improved conditions of work let alone ever contemplate embarking on industrial strike. And whenever they are forced to embark on strike, certain number of them are usually dismissed apart from other forms of repression.
UNRESOLVED NATIONAL QUESTION
The crisis arising from Nigeria’s unresolved national question remains unaddressed and as such, has acquired a growing deadly character. As must be noted, Nigeria, as a country, was an arbitrary creation of British colonialism. No section of the country had any say, democratic or otherwise, in the decision to merge into one geographical entity the country now called Nigeria. The sole factor, which decided the creation, was British imperialism’s interests. Not unexpectedly, this arrangement has met lots of resistance by most, if not all the nationalities that make up the country and especially in the recent time, by the minority nationalities, especially, those from the oil producing states of the Niger Delta. While oil exportation accounts for 90% of all foreign exchange revenue, about 80% of all generated revenues, little or nothing was ever invested to develop these oil-producing communities.
This, pointedly, is one of the reasons behind cacophonic agitations for resource control and or outright self-determination. But under the prevailing constitution imposed by the elites from the major nationalities (Hausa-Fulani, Yorubas and Ibos), Nigeria is “one and indivisible entity”. So, rather than frontally addressing the issues being raised by the nationalists, the Nigerian capitalist state had always invariably, both under military and now – under the so-called civil rule – resorted to armed repression to “keep Nigeria one” at all cost over a self-serving, anti-poor agenda masked by false messianic nationalism. To therefore argue that the elitist, anti-poor, imposed 1999 constitution and the fraudulent elections organised on this basis remain the resolution of all problems confronting the working masses across the country and in Niger Delta in particular is not only a back-hand service for the prevailing unjust socio-economic order, but an outright betrayal of all genuine change seeking elements and organisations.
NLC POLICY IN THE IMMEDIATE PERIOD
Suffice to stress, the demand for the re-instatement of Ladoja by labour leaders will not in any way guarantee the safety of workers nor bring any tangible economic or political gains for them. On the contrary, workers seen to be supporting the re-instatement of Ladoja would be classified as enemies, by the pro-Adedibu faction, who will be indiscriminately attacked alongside Ladoja’s supporters, a sure recipe for avoidable disaster and tragedy for workers.
Besides, this particular demand betrays the utter ignorance or insensitivity of labour leaders to the plights and aspirations of workers concerning governor Ladoja’s tenure. Yet, the open truth is that the vast majority of the working people of Oyo State did not get any tangible material benefit throughout Ladoja’s tenure, hence, their total indifference towards his travail. It is equally significant to note that Ladoja’s adversaries in Adedibu’s camp neither enjoy nor seek to rely on mass support of the people.
Even Ladoja, in his most desperate situation, had not dared to call for peoples support knowing full well that he cannot reasonably expect to get same given the self-serving and anti-peoples nature of his own power and usage. This, it should be spelt out, explains why he has consistently been claiming that Obasanjo has no hand in his removal in the vain hope that President Obasanjo can somehow re-instate him. So, how correct is it for labour to call for workers support for a bourgeois politician who neither calls for same nor believes in masses power?
The truth must be told. Ladoja knows very well that, even, if the improbable happens, and he is re-instated, he will only continue with his elitist, anti-poor, capitalist policies of inflated contracts and massive corruption in the name of governance. Ditto, the working people in Oyo State very well know that nothing positive has ever and will ever come to them under Ladoja’s government, hence, their indifference to his travail. In this respect, the fact that they are neither in support of Adedibu faction speaks volumes. For record purposes, it is important to stress the fact that the working people of Oyo State in particular, have a long and proud record of standing up to unpopular rulers, which dates back to pre-colonial times and which has been sustained in post-independence era both under dictatorial civil rule in the First Republic and up till the recent years of military dictatorship.
Therefore, the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Oyo State working masses are not even reportedly angry over the crude violations of the constitutional provisions in the removal of Ladoja shows, beyond any reasonable doubt, that they want something new in their lives, different from the rotten options offered them by the Ladoja and Akala-Adedibu factions. Only a political initiative which clearly outlines economic and political policies of how the resources of the society can be used to meet the basic needs of rank and file masses and how the masses can put in place a government that is willing and capable of implementing such policies (as opposed the current set of rulers, who, under the philosophy of privatisation, are busy coveting all major public resources and assets into the exclusive ownership and control of a few individuals and capitalist corporations) can bring about a sustainable mass movement in defence of democratic rights, including obedience to the constitution, especially if the constitution truly protects the needs and aspirations of the people themselves.
The fact that the planned protest did not even get off the ground clearly underlines the deep-seated memory of failure which Ladoja’s tenure means for the vast majority of the ordinary people of Oyo State. Despite widespread media publicity given to the decision of certain layers of civil rights elements and organisations for a stay at home action in Ibadan on January 23, 2006, The Guardian of the following day nonetheless reported: “Things went on smoothly in the capital city as residents went about their normal duties. Despite a directive to the members of the state transport union to withdraw their vehicles from the roads, human and vehicular movements went on unhindered while civil servants and market women reported at their work places.” Even though the planned mass protest did not enjoy any widespread mass support, the regime in its characteristic anti-poor, authoritarian manner used the police to crack down on it. We in the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) totally condemn this undemocratic, barbaric clamp down. We therefore demand the immediate and unconditional drop of all charges against the activists arrested and charged to court for carrying out a basic democratic and even constitutionally allowed activity.
Be that as it may, let nobody draw a wrong conclusion from the indifference of the masses towards the call for protest. On other occasions when human right groups and the NLC leadership have called for mass actions on issues which the working masses can see have relevant bearing to their own aspirations, their responses, including those of Oyo State in most cases, have been tremendously tumultuous. So, if they were therefore indifferent to the leadership’s call for mass actions, including strikes, to get Ladoja re-instated as governor of Oyo State, it was only because they could not see how such ends come near to their own political aspirations. Of course, pro-capitalist labour leaders would like to use this as an evidence of why labour should not intervene in politics on the false inference that the working masses will always follow the bourgeois.
But one fact, which immediately demolishes this kind of false postulation, is seen from the fact that the masses, in the current conflict, are neither in support of Akala-Adedibu nor Ladoja factions of the same bad club.
Under the 1999 constitution, a governor of a state can only be properly and constitutionally removed from office in the following manners: click here for details
THE JUNE 12 ANALOGY
Prominent NGOs like Campaign for Democracy (CD) and United Action for Democracy (UAD) and some respected right activists who played prominent roles in the struggle against military rule and the campaign for the actualisation of June 12 in the 90’s are hinging their call for mass action around the demand for the re-instatement of Ladoja, as Oyo State governor, on the premise that Ladoja’s unconstitutional removal was in all material particular, similar to the annulment of the June 12 1993 elections organised by the Babangida military junta. They therefore argue that their call for the re-instatement of Ladoja as Oyo State governor, notwithstanding its undemocratic and corrupt background, is similar to the call by all anti-military campaigners in the early 90’s for the de-annulment of the June 12 presidential election organised by the military but subsequently annulled by the military.
On June 12, 1993, a presidential election claimed by the bourgeois press and their commentators as being the fairest and freest election in Nigeria post-independence period was annulled by the Babangida military junta. This presidential election was the last in the series of staggered elections organised by the military ostensibly to usher in an era of civil rule. The entire military transition programme under which these elections were conducted was completely undemocratic and pro-capitalist in all ramifications both in form and content. Suffice to recall, the two political parties, Nigeria Republican Convention (NRC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP), which fielded the presidential candidates for the election in issue were outright creations of the military junta. The military built offices for these parties across the country, wrote their respective constitutions, appointed and or endorsed all their officers. The entire so-called transition programme was so highly monetised to such extent that only plain looters and or military surrogates were able to take active part in its elections. The transition programme, which started in January 1986, had its terminal date whimsically shifted several times from time to time by the Babangida military junta.
For this and several other important reasons, a mass of the working people, including rights activists had practically boycotted the transition programme which culminated in the June 12 1993 presidential election. But when that election was subsequently annulled by the Babangida military junta, an unprecedented mass protest developed to challenge the annulment. Millions of working class people and youth across the country subsequently engaged in mass protest demanding the implementation of the elections and an end to military rule. Members of the DSM played a very crucial and central role in the planning and execution of the mass protests against the annulment of the June 12 elections while at the same time urging the working masses to have independent political agenda which could bring about a workers’ and poor peasants’ government. Like millions of other Nigerian working class elements, members of the DSM did not support either Abiola or Tofa during the election. But when it was annulled, we were in the forefront of those calling for mass resistance to resist the annulment and throw the military out of power.
The 1998/99 military transition programme which brought about the current civil rule and in particular the election which brought Rashidi Ladoja to office as the governor of Oyo State were essentially undemocratic and pro-rich in character and execution. As is widely known, 2003 general election was a monumental farce. In particular, the emergence of Ladoja as governorship candidate of the PDP and his subsequent victory over incumbent governor Lam Adesina was primarily the consequence of the elaborate electoral manipulations, riggings and financial bribery spearheaded by the Adedibu political machine. On coming to power, one of the first things done by Ladoja was to cancel the payment of examination fee for secondary school leavers hitherto being paid for by the government. The point should be stressed that Ladoja was a governor of one of the Southwest states which under civil rule had been implementing free education policy since 1955. Over the years, as a result of the reigning neo-liberal philosophy, governments across the country have drastically cut down necessary expenditure on education and other necessary social services. In theory, the AD always like people to believe that it is a pro-masses party and the modern day equivalent of the Action Group and Unity Party of Nigeria, parties which had welfarist orientation and led by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Over the years however, the AD politicians have shown that they are as anti-people as their main capitalist competitors within the PDP, ANPP, etc. In all the AD controlled states, during the first term of this civilian regime, the AD governors like their counterparts in ANPP and PDP adopted and implemented policies which in varying degrees, privatised and commercialised the education sector. Instead of effecting massive expansion and adequate funding of education sector, Governor Tinubu, for instance, in Lagos State, handed over 48 schools built at public expense to profit merchants called missionaries and private proprietors. Nonetheless, some form of skeletal state subsidy (e.g. payment for WAEC, NECO etc examinations) was still maintained by the AD governments in the Southwest. But when Ladoja became governor, he felt that this too inadequate state subsidy was even too much for the working masses and today, it is the poor working class parents that totally bear the burden of payment for WAEC, NECO, etc.
Most significantly, deadly power tussle between Ladoja and Adedibu factions was not as a result of dispute over whether the state money should be spent to better the lots of the masses but rather on how much money should be appropriated by each of these factions. Unable to reach a peaceful compromise on this conflicts, the Adedibu led faction, with the solid backing of the state apparatus particularly the police, under the control of President Obasanjo, perfected the removal of Ladoja in an unconstitutional manner bothering on thuggery and brigandage. Those now calling for mass protest for Ladoja re-instatement argue that the process of how Ladoja became a governor, his conduct while in office as governor should be ignored in the face of what is rightly described as day light constitutional rape and violations. This, they argue, was the same strategy used by pro-democracy campaigners against the annulment of the 1993 presidential elections. On the surface, this seems to be a fair comparison. In reality, the circumstances surrounding the June 12 struggle were fundamentally different from the situation which obtains today.
First and foremost, the masses regarded the annulment of the June 12 presidential election as a pretext for the military to continue to remain in power. Here, it should be recalled that after almost 10 years of military dictatorship and official corruption and several shifts in the promised terminal date of military rule, the masses across the country were not prepared to give any excuse to the military to continue to remain in power. This perhaps partly explains why the process of voting in the election was overwhelmingly peaceful without any rancour whatsoever between the supporters of the two parties allowed in the election. Unlike what normally obtains in post-independence elections, the masses across the country accepted the result of the election without any dispute. This, it should be reiterated, was why that election is always described as the Nigeria fairest and freest. On top of this, the winner of that election, Chief MKO Abiola, a very rich business man and philanthropist, who had never before held government position and as such was widely, though erroneously in our view, believed by large layers of the working masses as a president who would not steal and who, in fact, would use his wealth of experience in business to revamp the chronically sick economy as a key to better their own lots. Two factors stand out from this premise: The masses were eager to get rid of the military plus the fact that they hoped that an Abiola government will bring them better conditions of life. To this extent, the undemocratic character and implementation of the military transition programme, which led to the June 12 presidential election, became secondary.
In the present situation however, the conflict is between two sets of civilian gangsters, which hitherto belonged to the same camp. They were part and parcel of the pro-capitalist politicians that collaborated with the military to impose an elitist and undemocratic constitution of the country. Both factions in the current dispute were, at all material times, part and parcel of the PDP rigging machine. The primary aim of either of the Ladoja and Adedibu factions is to corner for themselves and their most loyal cronies state resources that ought to be used to improve the peoples’ living standard. While struggling to become governor, Ladoja did not make any pact with the people, but rather with the well-renown Adedibu political machine, legendary for its intra and inter electoral violence and manipulations. But having become governor, Ladoja now decided to sideline his erstwhile mentors and godfathers so that it would be himself and his closest cronies that would enrich themselves at public expense. Realizing that Ladoja had not only sidelined them, but had, in fact, equally alienated his government from the people, Adedibu, his god-father, resorted to the cardinal rule of mafia politics, the one who can mobilise the greatest violence and state official backing, dictates the shorts in jungle politics. Hence, the rascally and unconstitutional manner with which Ladoja removal as governor was effected.
But unlike the June 12 issue, the demand for the re-instatement of Ladoja as governor does not enjoy any mass support and neither does it offer any prospect of something new. If the June 12 election had been de-annulled, Abiola would have become president in place of Babangida and civil rule would have been restored in 1993, not in 1999. For the masses, the pro-imperialist anti-poor programme of SAP being implemented by the Babangida junta, sharply contrasted in their minds with the message of farewell to poverty which Abiola offered. But in the present situation, the demand for the re-instatement of Ladoja is a counter-productive slogan to the extent that the personality of Ladoja has succeeded, beyond any reasonable doubt, in exhibiting himself as pro-rich, anti-poor, corrupt and self-serving. Secondly, this kind of slogan does not even have the limited progressive character of transition from military to bourgeois civil rule which the June 12 had. If Ladoja is reinstated as the governor, the 18 pro-Adedibu members of the House of Assembly and the entire gamut of PDP political machine in Oyo State and nationally will still remain at the helm of affairs. Frankly speaking, this is hardly a scenario that is capable of yielding a sustainable mass resistance akin to that which took place against the annulment of June 12, 1993 election. No matter the altruism behind their idea and their political pedigree and credentials, those currently urging mass actions by the masses for Ladoja re-instatement as governor of Oyo State will labour in vain. That kind of clarion call in the given situation could hardly get echo beyond layers of NGOs and their controlled crowd. The masses are neither stupid nor foolish. There is no way they can ever be expected to rise in defence of a monumental failure like Ladoja.
Furthermore, elements calling on people to defend the rule of law by demanding the re-instatement of Ladoja as governor of Oyo State show that they have learnt and forgotten nothing from the ruinous petty bourgeois orientation of the main leaders of the pro-democracy groups that led the masses’ resistance against military rule in 1990’s. While correctly fighting for the actualisation of the June 12, these elements completely lost all sense of proportion and history. Instead of outlining independent pro-masses policies and political platform, they hinged their defence of democracy on restoration of Abiola’s mandate. Thus explains why the bulk of the elements that led the anti-military protests found themselves either soaked in by the main capitalist parties, PDP, AD, ANPP and/or were completely without political platforms when the Abubarkar military programme which ushered in the current civil rule. At the end of the day, most of the elements that have come to power in post-military period largely represent the same elements and forces that had collaborated and or tolerated the military rule, while the masses are waging life and death struggle to terminate same.
Therefore, the slogan of “defence of democracy”, “rule of law”, etc, via Ladoja’s re-instatement as governor of Oyo State is sadly a repetition of the visionless and opportunistic politics implemented in the 1990’s by the petty bourgeois radical leadership of pro-democracy movement of that era. Today, the real alternative, the real way to defend democratic rights, is the immediate holding of new free and fair elections for Oyo’s governor and House of Assembly in which working people themselves have their own candidates and programme.
When we in the Democratic Socialist Movement then (known as Labour Militant) argued that while fighting alongside the masses to demand the de-annulment of June 12 elections, we should equally and simultaneously work to build a working peoples political movement needed to carry out a social revolution without which the lots of the working masses will always go from bad to worse, we were denounced by these petty-bourgeois leaders as idealist. To these elements, our slogan was perceived as something that could only divide the ranks of those fighting for the de-annulment of June 12 election. We were lectured that time was not yet ripe to pose socialist or working class alternative: that we should first fight to get rid of the military before we could begin to raise any other question. This same opportunistic reasoning was also canvassed in 1998 as part of the reasons why Abubakar’s undemocratic military transition programme must be supported, at all cost, under the false argument that just any civilian rule is better than military dictatorship. Then, again, those of us who argued for the development of the working peoples’ alternative were derided as activists who knew nothing about real politics.
Unfortunately however, the rotten politics brought about as a result of this opportunistic orientation has only brought unmitigated and unprecedented social economic disasters and calamities for the vast majority of the working masses in the past six and a half years of civil rule.
WORKING CLASS ALTERNATIVE
The kind of brazen rascality and act of illegality exhibited to effect the removal of Ladoja as the governor of Oyo State is the only type of politics that can come from the type of elements that presently rule Nigeria. The sole material means of survival of most elements currently ruling Nigeria is through massive corruption and treasury looting. For this reason, they are incapable of building a genuine following among the masses of the people. Hence, the necessity for them to control, at all costs, the state apparatus of coercion and repression.
According to a World Bank data, only 1% Nigerians consumes 80% of its daily generated income. To a large extent, this explains why the overwhelming majority live in perpetual poverty and want in the midst of possible super abundance. As long as politics is dominated by parties by elements from this 1% thieving class, there is no way the interest of the masses can be protected. In fact, this domination of politics by a few rich elements is the major reason for the growing apathy and indifference of the vast majority of the working people towards political activities in general. Suffice to stress, political domination through violence, electoral and financial manipulations, etc, thrive most in a polity riddled by mass apathy, because then, “victory” invariably goes to the most capricious, shifty, fraudulent, corrupt and unscrupulous.
IT IS THE ENTIRE SYSTEM THAT IS ROTTEN
As Prof. Wole Soyinka pointed out in a recent statement issued in respect of the removal of Ladoja as the governor of Oyo State, the show of shame exhibited in the process of removal of Ladoja as governor was neither new nor an exception. The past six and half years of civil rule under PDP government headed by Obasanjo at the central level, and the rule of ANPP and AD in their own respective, controlled states, have been largely dominated by similar acts of legislative and executive rascality. What therefore happened in Ibadan is a clear signal of what the 2007 general election will be like if politics and the faith of Nigerians are left in the hands of the capitalist politicians. The only way to realistically stop the nonsense that happened in Oyo State is for the working class people to put forward an alternative economic and political strategy capable of ending the current unjust capitalist rule and put in its place, a workers’ and poor peasants’ government which will be prepared to nationalize the commanding height of the economy and major resources under the workers democratic control with the sole view of guaranteeing the needs of all and not just that of a few which is the hallmark of capitalism. Unless this happens, the kind of elements currently ruling the country will make things, economically and politically so bad such that military rule which many paid supreme sacrifices to force out of power may yet come back on the agenda again and unfortunately with significant layers of the masses being indifferent if not out rightly supportive.
Yes, we must fight for democratic rights of the masses on day-to-day basis. But the only way to effectively do this is to put up independent working class demands which combine the daily needs of the masses with the long-term goal of abolishing capitalism. Recently, the NLC national leadership has vowed to put up a coalition to fight for genuine free and fair election come 2007. This is a very good idea, however, the working masses will only be interested to actively get involved in that kind of campaign only if they have a party of their own representing their own genuine needs participating in the coming elections. This has been proved negatively by the low participation in recent elections. But if the situation remains as it is now, until the 2007 and the main parties and elements competing for power are solely from PDP, ANPP, AD and their likes, then the campaign by labour for a free and fair election will be nothing but share mockery.
What is needed and what is missing in Oyo State and in Nigeria today is a bold working class programme of action linking the needs of today with the aspirations for tomorrow. Instead of a slogan that call the working masses to support either Ladoja or Akala, labour should be in the forefront of agitations to chase out the current set of capitalist rulers across the country including those in Oyo State and the demand for an immediate new elections where labour will spearhead a struggle to bring into being a government that will implement consciously an alternative working class policies, against those being implemented by the current set of capitalist politicians across the mainstream parties. This is the only outcome that will open the possibility of a clean break with manipulated polities built on the foundations of manipulations and godfatherism. Expectedly, petty bourgeois radicals and opportunistic elements will argue that since the working masses do not presently have an effective mass party, calling for new election is meaningless to the working people.
This, of course, will be a very wrong conclusion. In seven general strikes and in recent nationwide mass protests, the working masses have shown their readiness not only to end Obasanjo’s tenure but equally to carry out a fundamental change of its anti-poor policies. The primary reason why this has not translated into a powerful independent political movement of the people is due to a false policies and pro-capitalist instincts and conducts of most of the main labour leaders who have kept on vainly striving to make an unworkable system work instead of organising conscious forces to demolish this unjust system. Every politically conscious person knows that the PDP power in Oyo State as well as in other states of the federation was procured and rested on brazen electoral fraud. Therefore backing one faction of this thieving and irresponsible class is the surest way to guarantee the prevailing vicious circle called civil rule. All that the labour leaders need to do and which we strongly urge them to do is to immediately convoke a conference of all pro-masses organisations within and outside trade unions, with a view to work out a comprehensive economic and political programme around which the working masses can be mobilised to wrestle power from the ruinous self-serving capitalist elements running the country at the moment. The few capitalist elements that are dominating the economic and political life of the country do not have significant mass base among different nationalities that make up the country. A well-determined and organised political movement of the working people can easily dislodge these elements from power sooner than may be obvious from the surface. There is no better time to start this process than now, if not, democratic abuses and needless suffering await the masses in the immediate medium and long term periods.
Labour to lead mass action to:
Defend democratic rights, free and fair elections, against repression of protests. – demand immediate new elections in Oyo and run candidates representing working people.
Call a democratic conference of working people to formulate their alternative to the present crisis and a plan of action.
Build a working peoples’ alternative/coalition/platform to secure genuine free elections in 2007 and to run candidates committed to fighting for working people and in support of a workers’ and poor peasants government to end the misery of capitalism and imperialist exploitation.
Under the 1999 constitution, a governor of a state can only be properly and constitutionally removed from office in the following manners:
When a notice of allegation in writing and which is signed by not less than one-third members of the House of Assembly is presented to the Speaker of a state, stating that the holder of such office is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the function of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified.
Upon the receipt of the notice of allegation mentioned above, the Speaker shall in turn within 7 days cause that notice to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the House of Assembly.
If the holder of the office replies the notice of allegation, the Speaker will cause same to be served on each member of the House of Assembly. But whether or not the owner of the office replies, the Speaker must within 14 days summoned the meeting of the House where the House, without any debate must pass a motion supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of the House of Assembly.
If two-third members of the Assembly passed a motion to investigate the allegation against the holder of the office, then the Chief Judge of the state at the request of the Speaker of the Assembly must within 7 days, appoint a panel of 7 persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity to investigate the allegation made against the holder of the office.
If at the end of the day, the panel reports that the allegation against the holder of the office has been proved, then within 14 days of the receipt of the report, the House shall consider the report, and if by a resolution of the House of Assembly supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all its members, the report of the panel is adopted, then the holder of the office shall stand removed from office as from the date of the adoption of the report.
Of all these basic constitutional criteria outlined, only one condition could be said to have been met by the House of Assembly in its morbid and pre-determined design to remove Ladoja as the Governor at all cost. And that condition is the one which stipulates that a notice in writing signed by one-third of the members of the House can demand that a sitting governor be investigated for gross misconduct.
In all other respects, what the House did was nothing short of crude and blatant subversion and violation of the relevant constitutional provisions. To be able to validly constitute a panel to investigate Ladoja, two-thirds of all members of Oyo State House of Assembly (22 members) have to resolve by motion to so do. Unable to get the required two-third members to investigate Ladoja, the pro-Lamidi Adedibu factional majority in the house (the estranged godfather of Ladoja) suspended, in questionable circumstances, seven of their colleagues known to be supporters of Ladoja. Thus was the basis laid for the contrived two-third members who effected the removal of Chief Ladoja.
Even when a court gave orders that the Chief Judge (CJ) of Oyo State should not proceed to constitute a panel to investigate the governor, the acting CJ, not uncharacteristic of prominent members of the capitalist ruling class, totally ignored the court order and went ahead to constitute the panel. Under section 188 of the constitution, the panel has a maximum time of 3 months within which to carry out its functions. But as a pre-conceived case, the panel only spent 3 days to conclude its assignment. Under the same section of the constitution, the House has 14 days within which to consider the panel’s report in case the allegations of gross misconduct was reportedly proved by the panel against the holder of the office. In the instant case, the House only spent 30 minutes to consider same.
At all material times, the pro-Adedibu forces and those that effected the removal of Ladoja as the governor had unlimited backing and active support of the police under the ultimate control of President Obasanjo.
In this context, the removal of Ladoja as governor of Oyo State purportedly under the provisions of the 1999 constitution is fraudulent. The whole process as exemplified above was a gross violation of the relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution and all basic norms of democracy and rules of decency. However, it is very important to underline the fact that Ladoja himself became the Oyo State governor through similar undemocratic, unconstitutional and rascally conducts by the very same Adedibu forces that effected his removal!