NO TO A CAPITALIST MEGA PARTY: FOR A TRULY WORKING CLASS LABOUR PARTY
NO TO A CAPITALIST MEGA PARTY: FOR A TRULY WORKING CLASS LABOUR PARTY
According to a publication in the ThisDay of March 26, 2009, plans have now reached an advanced stage to form a mega political party by about 19 opposition political parties. In fact the paper reported that a formal launch of the newly mega party has been slated for April 7, 2009. Ordinarily, Socialists would comment only on what this development could mean for future political events in Nigeria. However, the fact that Labour Party was listed as among the parties wishing to merge to form a new mega political party means that many labour and progressive activists will ask whether they should support this new formation. For us in the Democratic Socialist Movement we openly say that it would be a disastrous step for the Labour Party to dissolve itself into this capitalist party.
As we write, proponents of the proposed mega party have given little details about the motive and objective behind the new formation. It seems that everything, including its specific name, logo and manifesto, has been hatched in secret deals. However, a signed statement by one Olubori Obafemi, stated that the proponents of this mega party have agreed to “form broad political movement that could engage the anti peoples’ policies of the PDP, and also contest power on a mega political platform”.
Yes, the PDP rule has been entirely anti-poor, corrupt and self-serving. In response to this the AC has tried to present itself as being more progressive and some, like the former NLC leader and now Edo governor Adams Oshiomhole, have joined it as a “lesser evil”. However, the ANPP, AC, etc., in the states where they held sway had equally shown that they are, ultimately, just as corrupt and anti-poor as their counterparts in the PDP. Practically, all the leaders of these parties, both at the central and in opposition fully subscribe to the pro-rich, ruinous policy of privatisation of societal wealth as well as other anti-poor neo-liberal policies. Just as the PDP politicians in the name of privatisation sold to themselves juicy national wealth and corporations including land, the ANPP, AC, APGA and PPA politicians have equally used similar strategy to sell state properties and lands to themselves and their cronies. Just as the PDP, at the centre and in the states where they rule, the AC, ANPP, PPA and APGA politicians have always acted jointly to deny workers decent pay increment while always acted in unison to pay jumbo salaries and allowances to public office holders.
Lest it be forgotten, the PDP, ANPP and AD (the progenitor of AC) actively collaborated in the National Assembly to prevent new political parties like the National Conscience Party (NCP), Labour Party (LP), etc., from getting recognition as political parties under the 1999 constitution. In fact, it took a protracted legal battle up to the Supreme Court, spearheaded by Chief Gani Fawehinmi as the leader of the NCP and backed with mass protests by NCP members, particularly in Lagos State, before the plot of these three capitalist parties were voided by the Supreme Court. Tragically, after Gani Fawehinmi stepped down as NCP chair, it was taken over by an opportunist careerist clique that drove out of the party socialists and those who wanted to struggle. Now this neutered party is meeting an inglorious end as one of those joining the new mega party.
THE PREVAILING GLOBAL CAPITALIST CRISIS
Between 1999 and 2008, largely owing to the boom in the global capitalist economy, Nigeria made hundreds of billions of dollar from crude oil exportation alone. Unfortunately however, little of this fabulous wealth was ever expended to improve neither the country’s key infrastructures nor the living standard of the masses. In fact, this period also witnessed a ruthless implementation of several neo-liberal anti-poor policies of privatisation of the nations most lucrative sectors, as well as commercialisation of education, healthcare, housing, etc,. Throughout the period under reference, all the ruling parties including PDP, ANPP, AC/AD, etc showed severally and collectively their anti-working class character via poverty wages. Even when a paltry (compared to actual cost of living) wage increment was granted by the Obasanjo regime, this merely provided excuse for capitalist government, especially the self-styled progressive AD/AC governments in Osun, Oyo, Lagos states etc to embark on mass retrenchment of workers.
Last year, at a time when crude oil was selling at $147.00 per barrel, teachers in public schools across the country went on a general strike to win wage increment. Very significantly, state governments controlled by the ANPP and AC acted jointly with PDP to refuse the just and modest demand of the strikers. In fact, it is on record that the AC controlled Lagos State government has constantly refused the teachers demand in this regard and insisting that it would only implement the increment with mass retrenchment of teachers. Meanwhile, there is already a chronic shortage of teachers in most Lagos State public schools!
Now hiding under the cover of global economic recession, the ruling class is poised more than ever to inflict harsher attacks on the living standard of the ordinary people so as to maintain its own opulent living. Speaking at the NEC meeting of PDP on April 2, 2009, President Yar’Adua had amongst other things stated: “While we are in this crisis, we must make sacrifices and we must be realistic. We must look beyond ourselves. It is in the collective interest of the nation to make sacrifice and tighten belt. So, we must make sacrifice, we have to face it because it is real. Prices of crude oil are hovering between $40 and $50 a barrel. We need sacrifice and belt tightening”.
The brutal lesson taught by all these experiences is that the working masses can only rely on its own strength and struggles to win improvements in living standard, either temporarily or permanently. Also, the working class needs to draw the conclusion that it needs its own independent political party which is not in anyway connected or dependent on any of the capitalist parties before it can fundamentally hope to defend and guarantee its own interests.
Under the prevailing socio-political situation, the working class and all labour activists should deliberately strive to build Labour Party as a class struggle platform for all the oppressed working masses instead of joining in a mega party with sections of their class enemies. In any event, the point ought to be stressed that a mega party built with sections of the capitalist class could not be expected to arouse serious and active support of the ordinary working class people. Consequently, future elections will still largely depend on capacity to use state apparatus for manipulations and riggings. In other words, a mega party that is not consciously built to defend the working masses interest against the ever-selfish interest of the ruling capitalist elite will never the strong enough to dislodge the PDP from power. Only outright radical, socialist mass struggles and movements by the working people themselves can sufficiently mobilise the ordinary working class people to checkmate the thieving capitalist elites economically and politically.
To realise this goal, we in the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) are bold to state that labour does not need to align with the likes of General Buhari, Atiku, Orji Kalu, Tinubu, etc. Since our inception over 20 years ago we have argued for the formation of a mass working peoples’ party and for that party to adopt socialist policies. We have argued that for Labour Party to gather the required momentum, the party has to be built in conscious opposition to these capitalist elements who only criticise the PDP looters, while they themselves essentially carry out similar policies. Working class elements must know that if voted to power, capitalist politicians of the ANPP and AC will implement similar or even worse attacks on the ordinary people. Any genuine elements who try to improve the lives of working people and the poor by “using” the AC will be ultimately disappointed and frustrated. Currently, the AC controlled Lagos State government is in forefront of those opposing wage increment for teachers and judicial workers using the blackmail that the Fashola administration has been carrying out some development in the area of road construction! In addition, ten of thousands of self-employed parents and guardians are being daily destroyed in the name of making Lagos State a mega city. Certainly, the Lagos AC governor together with the PDP, ANPP, PPA and APGA will oppose the current demand for N52,000 minimum wage and will once again carry out mass retrenchment of poor workers if forced to implement same.
Consequently, any sincere mega party being formed to fight PDP’s anti-people policies can only commence in earnest by excluding bourgeois parties like ANPP, AC, PPA, APGA etc. Therefore, we in the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) hereby call on the Trade Union leaders, together with the leaders of the Labour Party across the country, to immediately and completely disassociate the Labour Party from any project or idea of merging with or dissolving into the capitalist parties like the ANPP, AC, etc which are only PDP’s second eleven. Instead all of Labour’s resources must be mobilised to construct a mass Labour Party that is committed to playing a full part in building a movement that can liberate Nigeria’s workers and poor from the miseries of capitalism.