2023 ELECTIONS: NLC AND TUC SHOULD INITIATE BUILDING OF WORKING PEOPLE’S POLITICAL ALTERNATIVE IN ADDITION TO CHARTER OF DEMANDS
*SPN opposes any illusion in pro-capitalist politicians and government formed by them
**Only a working people government formed through an independent political initiative of the working people armed with a socialist programme can rescue the country and its ailing economy.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria, (SPN) commends both the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and Trade Union Congress, TUC for organizing political conferences expected to commence the preparation of workers for the 2023 elections. We also note the resolve of the NLC and TUC to work together on the same political agenda despite having organized separate conferences. Therefore, we urge both trade union federations to be jointly and genuinely committed to implementing what the Communique of the TUC conference highlights as the “options before the labour movement”. These include “establishing and building an independent working class party, formation of an electoral alliance with pro-labour political parties and consistent with the centrality of class struggle, socialist ideology and thorough-going, movement-based socialist transformation. This kind of strategy will no doubt help to fully integrate and unite ‘organised labour’ with the entire labour movement and all its allies”.
However, we are worried that the communique also indicates that there are other options, albeit not stated, before the labour movement likewise the illusion expressed by the two conferences that the realization of the aspiration and interest of the working people can still be facilitated by the some pro-capitalist politicians and government formed by their various anti-people political parties. This we suspect is the basis for the invitation and presence of one time labour leaders who proved to opportunists and betrayers of the working people like Adams Oshiomhole and pro-capitalist elements like Olusegun Mimiko and Pat Utomi who are currently organizing around the so-called Third Force which fundamentally share the same ruinous capitalist philosophy and programme with the APC and PDP.
Again, it appears the main agenda of the NLC Conference held on March 3, 2022 was to present as a silver bullet a Charter of Demands, which the NLC developed without an involvement of rank and file workers but was meant to mobilise support and votes of the Nigeria working people for any politician across the existing pro-capitalist parties who agrees to implement the said workers charter of demands. The TUC at its own conference a week after on March 10, also agreed with the objective of such a charter of demands but posited correctly that it should be jointly formulated by both the NLC and TUC.
SPN welcomes the initiative for a joint charter of demands by the NLC and TUC for Nigeria workers. We, however, hold that the process for the formulation of the planned workers’ charter must be made open and democratic so as to accommodate and incorporate the concerns and aspiration of mass of Nigerian workers.
However we hold that it is mistaken to view such a ‘Charter’ as simply as a bargaining chip in renegotiations with different careerist pro-capitalist politicians. Again, we fault the expectation of both the NLC and TUC that the implementation of any Charter of Demands, which genuinely represents the overall interest of workers, can be genuinely facilitated by any capitalist politicians or government formed by them. This illusion in pro-capitalist politicians and their capitalist system of corruption and exploitation stems from the fact that many in the current labour leadership, who support in principle the anti-poor policies of deregulation and privatization, fundamentally do not have an alternative political and economic programme to that of the APC and PDP. As a matter of fact, the continuous refusal of the successive federal government to honour the agreement first signed with ASUU in 1992 is a clear indication that no section of the pro-capitalist politicians can be trusted when it comes to the implementation of programmes and policies that are capable of bringing significant improvement to the lives of the working people. Also, look at the non-implementation of the 2019 minimum wage despite the fact that, formally, it is in the law of the land. As far as we are concerned in SPN only a government of workers and poor formed on the basis of socialist programme is capable of implementing a charter of demands that will bring a significant improvement to the live of the working people.
We therefore urge that instead of using the Charter of Demands to line workers behind any capitalist politician or party seeking votes, it should be a document that articulates and highlights yearnings and aspiration of working people and youth and which can be used to mobilise workers and youth in mass struggles for better conditions and against all anti-poor capitalist policies.
Also importantly, as contained in the communique of the TUC conference, NLC and TUC should facilitate the building of a working people’s political alternative with a socialist programme ahead of the 2023, as an immediate step. It is not likely that a political party can be registered before the elections, so the labour movement should adopt one of the left parties or facilitate an electoral alliance of such left parties. However, any party or an alliance of parties should have, as a minimum, clear pro-worker policies and, we would argue, a socialist programme. This is what can distinguish such a political platform from the pro-capitalist political parties and makes it possible to put forward alternative programme against the neo-liberal capitalist agenda which is at the root of the failure and inability of the successive governments to use the huge human and material resources for the benefit of the vast majority. Such a party would aim to present a clear alternative both in the election and in preparation to continue after the elections the struggle for a fundamental change that ends the perpetual crises gripping the country.
As we canvased in the statement circulated at the two conferences, we would propose that the SPN should be considered as part of options available for the much-needed political alternative. Though a small party, it has a clear socialist programme that meets the aspiration of the working people and the poor and which workers and change seeking elements could identify with and promote. Besides the programme, the party also at present has a legal existence following the subsisting order of Court of Appeal together with a solid ground to win at the Supreme Court. Therefore, the SPN can be built as the desired mass working people party on a socialist programme. However, we would like to stress that we of the SPN will support any effort or initiative towards the formation of a mass working people’s party, even if the SPN is not adopted, in as much there is a principled agreement on party’s programme.
Acting National Chairperson