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Socialist Democracy Feb - Mar 2003

2003 Elections

REJECT THE MONEYBAG PARTIES

* Build A Mass-Based NCP

* Fight For Socialist Policies To End Nigeria’s Crisis

The tempo of political activities has quickened in the country following the release of the time-table for the 2003 national and state elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). 

By this time-table, election into the National Assembly has been slated for 12th April, 2003 while the governorship and presidential elections will hold on 19th April, 2003. The polls is expected to be concluded with the election into the Houses of Assembly of the 36 states on 3rd May, 2003.

As part of preparations for the elections, political parties have been organising primaries to select their candidates. The ruling party at the national level, the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) is to present President Obasanjo as its presidential candidate. 

The official "opposition" party, the All Nigeria Peoples' Party (ANPP) on its part has chosen to present another general and military dictator, General Muhamadu Buhari, as its presidential candidate. 

Two other ex-generals, Ike Wachukwu (National Democratic Party) and Emeka Ojukwu (All Peoples Grand Alliance) are also to be candidates in the presidential election. This has made some sections of the capitalist media to label the coming elections as the "war of generals".

Significantly, from the point of view of the interests of the working masses, the National Conscience Party (NCP), is presenting Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the renowned human rights activist and lawyer, as its presidential flag bearer. It has also been reported in the media that other radical parties like the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) headed by Alhaji Balarabe Musa, and the Democratic Alternative (DA) are also to field candidates for presidential and other positions.

Against this background, what should be the attitude of workers, youth, the rural and urban poor and the working people in general to these elections? Put another way, what is the best approach to advance the socio-economic and political interests of the working people in the coming elections and the period thereafter?

NO FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE

The primaries of the main capitalist parties and their general attitude towards the elections shows that nothing fundamentally has changed from the pro-rich, monetised, ethno-religious, individualistic and self-centred politics of the Nigerian capitalist elite. Firstly, the selection of candidates in these parties have been so commercialised that only millionaire and billionaire treasury looters can take part in the primaries, let alone to emerge as party candidates. 

In the PDP and ANPP, for instance, aspirants were compelled to pay N5 million and N10 million respectively for the post of president . This shows that electoral contest is seen as a kind of business venture, in which someone invests in order to reap millions and billions of naira later. This is a sure guarantee for the looting of public treasury if ever any of these politicians gets into power.

The outcome of the primaries of the capitalist parties also again confirms the fact that the Nigerian capitalist class lacks any genuine idea or alternative to take the country out of its socio-economic morass. The primaries have been dominated by personal issues, intrigues and horse-trading, without any discussion on programmes and policies on how to take the country forward. This, however, should not be a surprise to the working people; this trend merely confirms the visionless character of the elite, a by-product of the neo-colonial economy, state and society which they preside over.

Furthermore, there is the increasing revelation of the plan by the various factions of the ruling elite to rig the forthcoming polls. For instance, even INEC has confirmed the existence of two million fake names on the voters' register nationally. 

But INEC have also said that it had issued 80 million voters’ cards while the estimated voters’ population is put at around 56 million! Recently, the police allegedly busted the plan by a syndicate to print five million fake voters' cards! The fact that in the past three years, hundreds of people have either been killed or injured in violent clashes between the various factions struggling for power and positions within the various capitalist political parties, especially PDP, AD, ANPP shows the desperation of the various factions of the elite to get access to power at all cost. 

The various factions of the ruling elite only agree on one point: the imposition of anti-poor, neo-liberal capitalist policies such privatisation, commercialisation, retrenchment of workers, etc. on the working people. Against this background, the elections are likely to be characterised by disputes and crisis. 

Not only that. If any section of the capitalist ruling class should be elected into office, this will not in any way solve the problems facing the working people and youth or take the society forward. Whether Obasanjo is re-elected or he is replaced by any other capitalist administration, the attacks on the working people's living and working conditions will continue.

A WORKING PEOPLE'S ALTERNATIVE

To prevent this type of dangerous scenario from becoming a reality, the labour movement and the working people in general must, as a matter of urgency, put in place a working people socio-political alternative. This should start with the building of a mass movement to fight against all capitalist attacks on the working people, and the building of a working people's political party which will organise the masses to struggle for power. 

But only a movement based on a socialist, anti-capitalist programme and perspectives can consistently champion the interests of the masses, moreso at the present period of capitalist economic crisis in Nigeria and internationally.

Unfortunately, the leadership of trade union movement and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have not live up to their historical responsibility to build such a movement. Not only have they failed to consistently defend workers against privatisation, retrenchment, and other anti-poor policies of the ruling class, it has shied away from boldly posing a political challenge to the elite. 

Sigfinicantly, the Party for Social Democracy (PSD) recently formed by a section of the trade union leadership, has existed mostly on paper. It has failed to organise mass activities and it does not have any visible structure among workers and the masses in general.

BUILD MASS-BASED, DEMOCRATIC AND SOCIALIST NCP

The only organisation which presently has the greatest potential to mobilise and organise the masses to defend their rights and capture political power is the National Conscience Party (NCP). 

But in order for it to fully realise its potential and live up to the expectation of the masses, NCP must be built as a grassroot, mass-based, and democratic party fighting uncompromisingly for the interests of the workers, peasants, youth and the urban and rural poor in general, whether it is elected into office or not. 

To achieve this, the NCP should defend the masses and stand consistently against all anti-poor, pro-rich capitalist policies such as violation of democratic rights, privatisation of public assets, commercialisation of social services, retrenchment of workers, non-payment of wages and pensions, repression of ethnic and religious minorities, and discriminations against women.

NCP should fight for the rights of the masses to a living wage, full employment, free and qualitative education and healthcare, welfare benefits for the unemployed, the sick and the elderly, efficient and affordable water, housing, transportation and telecommunications and other basic necessities of life.

But to be able to implement the pro-masses policies enumerated above and other laudable programmes which are contained in the party's 10-care programme, the party will have to stand for the public ownership of the commanding sectors of the Nigerian economy like petroleum, mineral resources, big industries and banks to be managed and controlled democratically by the working people. 

It must stand for the society to collectively own and the working people in the cities and villages to democratically control the country's wealth which are presently owned and monopolised by a super-rich minority of local and multi-national capitalists.

Only by this means will an NCP government have the necessary resources to implement the pro-masses policies which have endeared it to the masses and also ensure that these resources are efficiently utilised to provide for the real needs of the overwhelming majority of the people rather stupendous wealth for only a small minority as it is the case in the present neo-colonial capitalist arrangement. 

In other words, in order to abolish mass poverty, and eradicate hunger, diseases, unemployment, crimes, and ethnic and religious conflicts, an NCP government must be a workers' and poor peasants' government based on a democratic, socialist and anti-capitalist programme.

To prevent or minimise election rigging by the ruling class parties in the coming elections, NCP should encourage its members and the working masses to establish democratic grassroot, local election monitoring committees who will be very vigilant and monitor voting in polling centres and the collation of the results. Above all the NCP must educate and organise the masses to be prepared at all times to struggle to defend their votes and rights.

It is only by having and implementing the programme, policies and methods explained above that the NCP will live up to the expectations of the downtrodden working masses. The supporters of the DSM who are members of the NCP will struggle together with other party members to build the party and ensure that it fulfils the masses' aspirations.

 

 

Continued ...