SANWO OLU, TINUBU OR ANY OF THE CAPITALIST CANDIDATES DOES NOT DESERVE WORKERS’ SUPPORT
NLC AND TUC SHOULD BUILD A MASS WORKING PEOPLE PARTY
Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) strongly condemns the Lagos State leadership of both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) over their endorsement of Governor Sanwo Olu and Bola Tinubu who is running for President, both on the platform of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). As far as we are concerned, this action is a betrayal of the class interest of the working class in Lagos state and a violation of key resolutions of the national organs of the NLC and TUC wherein the labour movement decided that Nigerian workers will not lend support to any anti-worker candidates in the 2023 general elections.
However, the national leaderships of the NLC and TUC have themselves have blatantly violated the said resolutions with their support not only for APC candidates in some states but also officially for Peter Obi despite his anti-worker antecedents and policies. Besides, in Lagos the endorsement of the APC was not a product of democratic decision of trade unions in the state, as the Academic Staff Union of Universities revealed in their statement, but imposed by the state leadership of the NLC and TUC.
Not only are Governor Sanwo Olu and Bola Ahmed Tinubu anti-worker and anti-people elements who have used political offices to impose neo-liberal and anti-poor policies that enriched them and a few cronies while impoverishing the working people, but there can also be no doubt that the reign of their party, the APC, over the past eight years has brought the nation to a new level of despair, disharmony and desolation so much that a huge number of our young people are now seeking any opportunity to flee the country in a wave of mass emigration never seen since the civil war. Therefore, in our view, there is no justification for drumming or mobilizing support for these known anti-people-capitalist politicians.
At the Declaration rally, the Lagos State NLC Chairperson, Funmi Sessi and the TUC Chairman Gbenga Ekundayo gave the impression that Gov. Sanwo Olu and the Lagos State government have done so much for workers but a check on all indices clearly shows otherwise. In the area of public education, the Lagos State ruling elite have underfunded and largely neglected education since 1999 and this has led to overcrowding in most public schools, together with inadequate teaching and learning facilities. This is the major reason many Lagosians including many workers have to resort to private education with its negative impact on income The Lagos State University (LASU) and other public tertiary institutions only manage to survive due to TETFund due to the abysmally low funding. At the moment, fees at LASU are beginning to rise astronomically beyond what ordinary workers and civil servants in the state can afford.
In the area of healthcare, public hospitals are grossly inadequate and to add insult to injury the services are increasingly being commercialized. There used to be public water in some parts of Lagos but this present crop of politicians in Lagos in the last 24 years has not done anything to make pipe-borne water accessible to Lagosians. As a matter of fact, the Lagos state government has resolved to privatize the water sector through Public Private Partnership and other for-profit means. Currently, there is a housing deficit of about 15 million units in Lagos and the very few housing units built by the government are priced far beyond the reach of workers.
It was the Lagos State government under the influence of Bola Tinubu that began the payment of fraudulent and jumbo pensions to past governors in Nigeria. Through this means, billions of Naira have been frittered away while many workers and ordinary people, who are made to pay various exploitative taxes, live in poverty.
The N30,000 minimum wage has been largely eroded by inflation and the rising cost of living. The only response from the Sanwo Olu-led government is to unilaterally announce an unspecified increment without any engagement or negotiation with labour. A wage increment is not a gift that a politician should award, workers deserve a living wage as the current wage is not a full compensation for work done. Workers are only paid a fraction, and in some cases, a very small fraction. Side by side the poverty wage workers earn, unwarranted jumbo salaries and allowances are paid to top bourgeois politicians who also loot public funds. For more than 3 years now, the wage structure ought to have been reviewed upwards but the failure of the NLC and TUC leadership to lead a sustained struggle for the increase in wages despite the overwhelming justification for it.
Lagos state has been so mortgaged by these self-serving capitalist ruling elite that it will take many years to pay off about N800 billion indebtedness. Alongside this huge debt are the generated funds of more than 16 trillion Naira in the last 24 years and yet Lagos is so chaotic that it is currently said to be the worst city to live in only after war-torn Damascus in Syria by the Economist Intelligence Unit – an Economist magazine. Life for workers and the poor masses in Lagos just like other parts of the country is a living hell.
If we take into critical account the key living index, workers and the poor masses fared worse in the last 24 years, no thanks to the rabid neo-liberal and anti-people policies implemented by the self-serving capitalist ruling elite in Lagos State.
The reality is that labour leaders have done very little or nothing to defend the living and working conditions of workers. Rather workers have been left vulnerable to exploitation and attacks. In some cases, these right-wing labour leaders connive with the ruling elite and management staff to accelerate the exploitation of workers. It is not surprising that many labour leaders are members of the ruling capitalist parties (APC,PDP, APGA etc). It is simply because they fundamentally lack an alternative to capitalist exploitation. How would one explain the fact that the NLC and TUC formed the Labour Party and the party became just any anti-people capitalist political party? It is bizarre that the central NLC and TUC called on workers to vote for the Labour Party candidates some months back but most of the leaders at the chapters and affiliate unions are supporting other bourgeois candidates and parties. This is to show how the trade union leadership is in disarray, politically. However, the call for support for the current Labour Party with its anti-worker candidates is as wrong and opportunistic as that for the APC and PDP as all goes against the overall interest of workers and the poor masses because of the anti-poor neo-liberal policies of the parties.
The historical responsibility and the primary role of the trade union movement are to defend the working class against every capitalist attack and lead a struggle to defeat capitalism and its attendant slavery. Hence, we call on workers and trade union activists to campaign and agitate for a fighting and democratic trade union movement to lead working people and youth to build a mass political movement that will fight every capitalist oppression and exploitation. Such a movement armed with a socialist programme will help the working class and the poor challenge and defeat the self-serving capitalist elite, their corrupt parties and governments and ultimately end the iniquitous capitalist system.
Comrade Rufus Olusesan
Comrade Chinedu Bosah
National Publicity Secretary