Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

President Yar’adua’s Era: A new dawn for the masses?



Within a few weeks of President Yar’Adua coming into office, there was a widespread belief that somehow, he was going to be “different”. Truly this is another example of hope triumphing over experience. In the real scientific term, President Yar’Adua’s era is a mere continuation of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s inglorious anti-poor and incorrigibly corrupt government. Both in outlook and origin, the Yar’Adua government is an embodiment of the widely hated Obasanjo government. During his campaigns and since his assumption of power, Yar’Adua has always stated that his government is a government of continuity. Of course, given the circumstances of its birth, it is stretching credibility for Yar’Adua’s government to pretend to be something else. However, events and continued hostility to Obasanjo may later force him to try to appear “different”.

To start with, Yar’Adua is a leading member of the ruling PDP, the largest capitalist party whose central policy, since Obasanjo became president in May 1999, has been the wholesale conversion of public assets and resources into exclusive property of a few capitalist corporations and individuals under the guise of an economic “reform”. In fact, Yar’Adua was a two-term governor of Katsina State under Obasanjo’s presidency. Up till almost two weeks to the PDP’s so-called presidential primary, no one within or outside the PDP had inkling that Yar’Adua was a presidential candidate. His candidature was foisted on the PDP by Obasanjo and his backers who used every means, (mostly foul and undemocratic tactic(s) to force out of the race all the party’s known presidential aspirants, in order to pave way for the emergence of his anointed political son, Yar’Adua, as the PDP presidential candidate. At the end of the day, Yar’Adua’s emergence as president in the 2007 general elections was directly the outcome of the brazen electoral robbery and manipulations carried out by the INEC and the Obasanjo presidency. In fact, Yar’Adua’s “victory” as well as that of most PDP candidates were seriously denounced locally and internationally by the opposition parties, observers and the sundry as fraudulent and lacking credibility. Up till date, Yar’Adua’s victory, like that of many of his colleagues, is being seriously contested at the Elections Tribunals.

On the basis of the above outlined background, Yar’Adua should still normally be faced with outright mass movements seeking to uproot him and fellow electoral robbers from their usurped position of powers. This was one of the root causes for June’s massively supported general strike, notwithstanding the fact that officially, it was called over economic issues. However, far from this situation, there has emerged, as usual, a carefully orchestrated propaganda by bourgeois writers and ideologues, (who of course, would always promote any bourgeois government in power) selling the proposition that Yar’Adua is the best thing that could have happened to Nigeria. Just as these elements did in the early period of Obasanjo’s presidency, every action or inaction of President Yar’Adua is being lauded to high heaven as messianic! And very tragically too, prominent trade union leaders appear to have joined this inglorious bandwagon. From the position that the farce called 2007 general elections be cancelled and a new free and fair exercise be conducted, the NLC and TUC leaders now appear only too willing to collaborate with the Yar’Adua’s government, formed from the denounced elections!

To Adams Oshiomhole, the radical and immediate past president of the NLC, Yar’Adua is like a sheep providentially born by wolves! Thus, instead of coming up with a coherent economic and political programme of action on how to improve the living conditions of the masses, the labour movement, through its leaders, has only been helping to foster the illusion that Yar’Adua’s presidency is fundamentally different from Obasanjo’s and very falsely too, labour leaders have created impression that his economic, political programme and orientation as so far enunciated, show that Yar’Adua is the president that will fix Nigeria right!

As we write, the Yar’Adua government is just barely over 100 days in power. So, those that support or have hopes in the government can still legitimately argue that Yar’Adua’s stay in power is too short for any conclusive character analysis of his economic and political directions. Nonetheless, a careful and scientific analysis of the pronouncements, actions and or inactions of President Yar’Adua in his short time in power has unambiguously underlined the fact that government policies will essentially remain pro-rich, anti-poor and utterly corrupt. The Guardian, (a foremost pro-capitalist organ) in its editorial of September 5, 2007, hits the nail on the head when it wrote: “In 100 days after the Obasanjo administration, not much has changed in the behaviour of the political elite. Crass opportunism and sheer charlatanism have been witnessed by a hapless Nigerian public to a much worse degree.” So, where then lies the basis of the claim that Yar’Adua’s presidency is the best thing that have recently happened to Nigeria?

At the beginning, given the circumstances through which Yar’Adua emerged as president, even the dullest writers and or mischievous political analysts/observers had no any difficulty in concluding that Yar’Adua’s presidency will be nothing but a continuation of mass misery and stupendous corruption which largely dominated the Obasanjo era. Today however, the masses are being made to believe that the president, in fact, is a messiah who has only chosen to emerge from among the crooks! Reuben Abati, “The Guardian” Editorial Board’s Chairman, and a prodigious writer, made this submission in one of his columns published in September 2, 2007: “The President had campaigned on the platform of continuity. In 100 days, he has succeeded in showing that he is aware of the burdens of history sitting on his shoulders. He still talks about continuity but the greatest victim of his administration in the last 100 days has been the preceding government and former president Olusegun Obasanjo in particular. President Yar’Adua has already reversed some of the controversial decisions taken by that administration, with an instructive sub text: rejection and distancing”.

We therefore ask: What decisions and or policies have been implemented by President Yar’Adua to justify this kind of plaudit? To those whose concept of a better society does not go beyond the purview of the prevailing unjust capitalist disorder, there have been several measures taken to “prove” that President Yar’Adua is a man and not just an Obasanjo’s clone. In this respect, a so-called seven point agenda, which Yar’Adua mentioned in his inaugural speech is proclaimed as the last wisdom in political economy. Added to this, several of the actions taken by the president have been interpreted by many pseudo-analysts as an indication that Yar’Adua’s presidency represents a radical break with the self-serving policies of the Obasanjo’s era. It is therefore imperative that these policies and presidential directives, since assumption of power by Yar’Adua, be scientifically xrayed by the socialists so that working class and youths can draw appropriate political and organizational conclusions needed to really advance their struggle for a permanent decent life and genuine political freedom as against the permanent mass poverty and political repression which is their lot under the prevailing unjust order.