Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

Committee for a Workers' International logo

Committee for a Workers' International

 

Home
Join DSM
Contact DSM
About us
Our Manifesto
Statements

Socialist Democracy

Newspaper of the DSM


Campaigns
NCP
Trade Unions
Students
Women
International

Downloads

email

Socialist Democracy May Day 2005

 

NATIONAL CONFAB IS AN EXPENSIVE JOKE:

Labour Leaders Should Pull Out Immediately

 

Nigeria as a country was the creation of British imperialism. Although several parts of what is today called Nigeria have been separately ruled by British imperialism as colonies and protectorates until January 1, 1913, when the entire geographical area now known as Nigeria, by virtue of a British imperial Act, became a single political entity. As was the case with other countries created in Africa by European imperialism, the various nationalities and ethnic groups that make up what is known as Nigeria were never consulted before the country became one single political entity under British colonial authority.

 

Just like now, the primary consideration of imperialism in the creation of Nigeria was more informed by the calculations of how to make the most maximum profits and material gains with the most minimal investment from the Nigerian people and resources. In this respect, the political subjugation and subordination of the minority nationalities, which in many cases, had never been under the political control of any other nationality to the political domination and control of the major nationalities was devised by British colonialism as a very convenient economic and political strategy.

 

As to be expected, there have been a lot of violence and violent violations of the democratic rights of the minority nationalities arising from the imperialist self serving calculations that formed the basis of Nigeria’s creation. Today, the Niger Delta, an oil producing region, generates about 80% of government’s total annual revenues, but in reality, enjoys less than 10% of the total wealth being generated. For this and other related reasons, agitations for one form of assembly or conference have always been recurring political demands by different political trends both before and after Nigeria gained flag independent in 1960.

 

Owning largely to the escalated and relentless mass poverty among the vast majority of the working people across the country, the demand for a Sovereign National Conference or National Conference to equitably redesign Nigeria, in the past 1½ decades or so, has acquired a cacophonous character with large layer of the working masses hoping that a redesigned Nigeria could bring a substantial improvement in their living conditions.

 

Sadly however, when the Obasanjo government National Confab is critically examined from all essential angles, it is not too difficult to see that the government so-called confab is nothing but a big, expensive joke. As it is, Obasanjo confab is a deliberate design to rubbish the idea of a genuine democratically elected Sovereign National Conference and at the same time, an exercise meant to divert the attention of the suffering masses from challenging government numerous anti-poor policies being implemented in the false hope that a National Confab to redesigning Nigeria is going on.

 

A COMPLETE FARCE

 

The confab is roughly made up of about 400 persons. Every one of these persons was nominated by government and pro-government bodies and individuals at all levels. Therefore, referring to the individuals as "delegates" is misleading. All the elements participating in the Obasanjo’s confab are representing no section of Nigeria people and therefore cannot be truthfully called delegates. The truth must be told. These elements only represent the aggregate interest of the ruling parties across the country. If only from this point alone, it should be very clear that nothing fundamentally good and new can come the way of the masses arising from the outcome of the on-going confab.

 

Secondly, the so-called confab is mostly dominated by individuals and elements that have ruled and ruined Nigeria before.

 

Thirdly, all the major issues that formed the bases of agitations for a national conference, even among the elite and bourgeois nationalists, have either being decreed as "no-go-area" or already rejected at the committee stage of the so-called confab. The present state structures are to be retained. There will be no return to parliamentary system because presidential system has been decreed by the powers that be.

 

While, of course, the participants at the so-called confab have great differences over the percentage of share of Nigeria’s wealth that should be assigned to the elite on the bases of geo-political zone, they and their capitalist and pro-capitalist backers are however unanimous and united on keeping the unjust capitalist/privatisation order where only 1% of the population consumes 80% of all incomes.

 

As things stand, the confab is broadly made up of two camps. The first is the camp of the status quo - those who would do everything to preserve Nigeria’s prevailing unjust socio-political structure. To this camp, the issue of self determination or resource control by minority nationalities is a treasonable demand. The paltry constitutional derivation revenue formula which entitles oil producing states to claim 13% of revenue from oil and gas is considered too much and in fact, it is currently being challenged in court as unconstitutional. The second camp broadly made up of opposition politicians in AD, ANPP and bourgeois nationalists across the country and most especially from the South-South geo-political zone clamouring for a minimum of 50% revenue to be paid to the zone or communities where those revenues are earned. Broadly speaking, this camp advocates what it calls "true fiscal federalism". In popular parlance, this literally means an arrangement where the regions or the states collectively get more money from the federation account in contrast to the current arrangement where the Federal Government gets the lion share.

 

This demand is based on the groundless assumption that if more money is appropriated for the state or region, the working masses within that state/region will have a better lease of life. However, every average political conscious person who knows the kleptomaniac/corrupt nature of the elements in government, even at states level and their anti-poor characters will know that this so-called fiscal federalism is nothing but a formula by certain section of the elite to get better material advantage over their capitalist competitors while pretending to champion the welfare of their own people. It has little or nothing to do with the basic interests of the working masses whether more revenue is appropriated to a state/region/federal government. On the basis of the prevailing dispensation, nothing tangibly can come to the masses.

 

As if to underline the fact that it is a huge expensive joke, there is no law backing the existence and the activities of the confab. So, what ever "good’’ resolutions passed by the confab will just have to be passed on the Obasanjo’s government. At best, some of these resolutions may be sent to the National Assembly in form of bills which may or may never be passed into law. Of course, given the preponderance of the elements in support of the status quo within the confab and the National Assembly, the chances of any new radical political reform coming out of the confab activities is almost zero.

 

PRONACO

 

Unfortunately, the PRONACO option does not offer a better prospect for the masses. Of course, it correctly exposed the insincerity and fraud behind the Obasanjo confab. Sadly however, PRONACO’s major demands are equally elitist in nature. Among other things, they want the presidency and other top and economic posts to be shared and rotated among the elites of the different nationalities or geo-political zone. Like those in Government confab, they see nothing fundamentally wrong with the current unjust social economic order where a few live in stupendous opulence and the vast majority live in perpetual want in the face of super abundance and in inexhaustible resources.

 

Therefore, even if the PRONACO elements organized their own confab and come up with more radical resolutions than those that may be passed by government owned confab, the fact that they have no coherent political programme and strategy aimed at capturing political power means that such confab will be no more than a workshop with no legislative or political power to implement own resolution.

 

A SHEER DIVERSION

 

Viewed from the above perspective, Obasanjo’s confab is nothing but a sheer diversion. While striving to retain all the essential features of the current much hated Nigerian state, the Obasanjo’s government is using the national confab to give a false impression that it is out to effect a political reform. This is nothing but a sheer ploy to divert the attention of the working masses from initiating political processes to terminate his reign of mass exploitation and oppression.

 

We in the DSM consequently reiterate the demand that the NLC and TUC leaders, including those claiming to represent the civil society, to immediately pull out of Obasanjo’s confab instead of continuing to give credibility to a confab which at the end of the day cannot achieve any tangible gain for the masses, and work in conjunction with National Conscience Party (NCP) leaders, Labour Party leaders, DSM leaders, DA leaders with a view to work out a programme and strategy to win political power from the prevailing self serving capitalist elements. Labour and PRONACO leaders have no business dissipating energy on either government or an independent conference. They should instead clearly send direct messages that the capitalist government economy and political policies have failed and will continue to fail the masses. Thus, instead of participating in government confab to prepare resolutions that will never be implemented or resolutions whose authors lack political power to implement, a direct and simple message that the working masses should politically get organized with a view to take power to run society in the interest of the entire masses is what can lift the spirit and strengthen the struggle of the masses against perennial capitalist exploitation and oppression.

 

If Labour and PRONACO leaders, today, draw a bold pro-working masses economic and political agenda and democratically choose the flag bearers to politically and economically fight for the actualization of these demands, much more gains against exploitation and oppression can begin to be made in the run up to 2007 general elections.

 

 

Socialist Democracy May Day 2005