Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Adams Oshiomhole’s election manifesto contained many measures that would, if genuinely implemented, improve the lives of the working masses and poor.

For instance the manifesto talks of re-inventing “the public school system”. Towards this, Oshiomhole has promised that his government “will restore, renovate and refurbish at least, two secondary schools and two primary schools in each local government area within one year of our stewardship. The overall restoration agenda will include provision for adequate staffing and motivation for teaching and non-teaching staff.” At the tertiary level, Adams manifesto promises “enhanced funding of our higher institutions, we will also improve the working condition of academic and non-academic staff and make their remuneration more competitive.” On healthcare, the manifesto states, “We recognize that the major problem in the area of health is affordable access and poor facilities. We are determined to confront this challenge.”

On combating crime, the manifesto says “we regard crime as largely a by-product of poverty, unemployment, social neglect and alienation. In combating crime, the starting point is to ensure that the people have jobs that enable them to earn a living productively. This is why our emphasis will be on creating employment through investments in public works, use of labour-based technology and promotion of direct labour where possible.”

The manifesto equally pledged restoring “roads”, “water” and “power.”

As it is often stated, pervasive corruption in governance is one major factor responsible for failure of governance to impact positively on the living standard of the working masses. To fight this cankerworm, Adams has promised to unapologetically and constantly “combat corruption and financial crimes, instil a culture of due process and transparency in government transactions and uphold fiscal responsibility.”

There can be no doubt that a substantial and sustained implementation of the above outlined programmes and policies would bring a considerable positive improvement in the living standard of many working class elements and poor in general.

But to carry out even this basic programme requires the building of a mass movement that can force the federal government to provide the necessary resources from the country’s oil wealth and to ensure that these resources are not lost through corruption and bureaucratic mismanagement.

First and foremost, the point should be stressed that the prevailing mass poverty in the midst of super abundance is the direct consequence of the pro-rich and neo-liberal policies of the government. This is why there has been hardly any “trickle down” from the recent years’ enormous extra income from oil exports. But even if some of this oil income had been spent it would only have touched the surface of Nigeria’s problems.

Unfortunately Adams has repeatedly shown that, while being prepared to fight on individual issues, he is unwilling to frontally oppose capitalism and consciously put forward a democratic, socialist option. This will mean that ultimately very little of his outlined radical measures could ever be implemented let alone sustained.

For instance, the strive to develop and expand public school system will immediately run into stiff opposition of private proprietors and school owners who presently are profiting from the destruction of the public school system. Equally, there is no realistic way to permanently instil a culture of “due process and transparency” in governance within the framework of capitalist relations.

We, of course, wholeheartedly support massive public investment on peoples’ needs like food, housing, education, healthcare, social amenities like water and electricity, job opportunities, etc. We will, at all time, back any specific measure taken against identified corrupt public officials and others. However, there are two conditions which are needed to sustain any such gains and, most importantly, guarantee their benefits for all, at all times.

Firstly, there is the need for a strict democratic control and management of all public investments by the working masses themselves so as to prevent the public invested fund from being looted by government officials and their capitalist contractors/collaborators and also to guarantee efficient running of these public investments from the characteristic mismanagement and inefficiency of an unaccountable bureaucracy.

Secondly, under the prevailing capitalist dispensation, the larger proportion of all societal wealth and resources within each individual state and the country as a whole is controlled by a few capitalist individuals and corporations, both national and multinational. Therefore, in order to sustain a programme of massive public investment in all areas of peoples’ needs, there will be the necessity for a pro-working masses’ government to take under common ownership the commanding heights of the economy and resources of nature so as to be in a position to democratically plan and guarantee the interest of all as against capitalism which is only able to meet the needs of a very few.

In contemporary Nigeria, this bluntly requires a complete opposition to privatisation as a central strategy of a social development. It demands an unequivocal pledge to re-nationalise under working peoples’ democratic control and management all public assets and resources already privatised. This, of course, centrally places on the agenda the necessity to build the Labour Party across the country and not just in Edo State.

The DSM believes that this is the sort of approach that needs to be taken. Even just to secure his election victory, Adams needs to act now to organise and consolidate his mass support. It is clear from the Election Tribunal’s verdict on Adams that the current Edo House of Assembly does not represent the wishes of the electorate..

Adams should call a “Working Peoples Assembly” in Edo, made up of elected representatives from workplaces, communities, villages and schools, to decide the next steps to implement Adams’ proposed reforms and recall any member of the State House of Assembly who goes against programmes aimed at improving the living condition of poor working people in the state. This “Working Peoples Assembly” should also spearhead a national movement demanding for more resources for all states. Such a movement, alongside the building of a mass Labour Party committed to socialist change, could open the way to Nigeria’s real transformation by a government genuinely made up of and representing the working people and poor.