Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Arguing for a Real Workers’ Party

Arguing for a Real Workers’ Party

By Victor Osakwe

The Labour Party (LP) is supposed to be a party for workers, market women and men, students, the poor and other oppressed strata of the Nigerian society. What is presently being witnessed, however, is a party that is devoid of any working class orientation. The Labour Party (LP) led by its chairman, Dan Nwuayanwu, for instance, has handed the party to the highest bidders for governorship positions under the party platform. This has deprived the party of the working class members on whose interest the party was supposedly established.

But the stage for the takeover of the party by the self-serving moneybag politicians was set by half-hearted approach or lip service of some labour leaders to the building of the party as true party of the working people. In Lagos state, for instance, an attempt to build the party was frustrated by some sectarian labour bureaucrats. In the absence of any activities by the original Labour Party leaders in Lagos State, the national leadership, already searching for viable market to sell the party tickets, imposed a leadership on the party in the state to accommodate the buyer, Femi Pedro, the incumbent Deputy Governor in Lagos State. However, the genuine party leadership in Lagos has woken up from its slumber, though not fully, but has made an almost futile effort to denounce Pedro as its flagbearer.

Femi Pedro, who has been part and parcels of corrupt, anti-poor government of Tinibu, chose the Labour Party to realise his self-serving ambition, having discovered Governor Ahmed Tinubu had opted for another aspirant to bear the flag of their party, the Action Congress, in the 2007 gubernatorial election.

Similarly, Rahman Mimiko, who had not only served the last two anti-poor administrations in Ondo State but also the immediate past Minister of Housing, who supervised the eviction of federal civil servants from their houses in Lagos, is now LP candidate in Ondo state. Unable to get the PDP ticket, Mimiko opted for the LP. And this has been the trend nationally in the party. The Labour Party has simply become the trashcan of the leftover politicians schemed-out by the pro-establishment political parties.

Expectedly, the national leaders of the party would be smiling to their bank accounts as these thieving politicians have so much looted public money to spend. Besides, the leadership of the LP has not seen anything wrong in dashing out the party mandate to the anti-poor politicians because it practically lacks any alternative to the anti- poor, neo-liberal philosophy of the incumbents at all levels.

Paradoxically however, while the anti-poor politicians left their traditional parties like PDP, AC etc to contest on the platform of the LP, Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), who led seven general strikes and protests in five years, opted for the AC to vie for the governor of Edo State. The action of Oshiomhole reflects the lack of faith, common among labour leaders, in the capacity of workers and poor masses to defeat the thieving ruling elite and take over political power. Even the fact that the declaration of Oshiomhole to contest on the platform of Labour Party attracted mass appeal could not change the mind-set.

As a result of the popularity of Labour among workers and the poor masses, it is not impossible for some genuine individuals, misconceiving the Labour Party as a party for working people, to be attracted to the party despite its domination by the self serving politicians and their bootlicks in the leadership. Such individuals must be made to understand the true character of the party as presently constituted. They should argue for the party to campaign on the basis of programme that is against the neo liberal policies of privatisation, commercialisation, retrenchment, etc but supports the commitment of the public resources to providing education, health care, housing, decent jobs and other social services for the poor working masses. They should argue for the party to be built as a party of struggle that defends the day to day interest of workers and poor masses, in and out power, not as an electoral machine for political merchants as presently obtains.

We of the DSM shall continue to campaign for a real mass workers, party that always defends the interests of workers and poor masses. Such party should be strong enough to usher in workers and poor farmers government that will run on democratic socialist programme which include nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy and resources of natures with the democratic control and management of the working people themselves. This is to guarantee provision of basic needs of life such as food, education, housing, roads, health care, electricity, water etc. for workers and poor masses. If the Labour Party is reclaimed from the stranglehold of political contractors at its helm and repositioned to represent the interest of workers and poor masses on the basis of anti-imperialist, anti-neo-liberal programme, it could be the bud of such mass workers party.