Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Abbey Trotsky

Like elsewhere in the country, the economic and socio-political situation in Oyo state has made imperative the urgent need for a working people’s political alternative to the monumental rots that have characterized the political leadership in the state. Already, there is Labour Party in Oyo state which has a huge potential of becoming a viable political alternative for workers, artisans, youths and poor masses in general if well repositioned for the historic task of wrestling power from the thieving ruling elite.

In the face of widespread poverty, the Alao-Akala administration in the state has been wasting billions of naira of public funds on billboards, newspapers adverts, television and radio jingles just to give a false impression that all is well for the mass of the working people in the state. Meanwhile, most roads are in deplorable state causing havoc to vehicles, traffic congestion in certain areas and hardship to commuters. Health care service is not accessible and affordable to most of the people in the state. Thousands of working people die from preventable and curable diseases daily because patients cannot afford the cost of the treatment. There is no housing programme for the poor people.

The state of education in Oyo state has not fared better; most schools are more crowded than ever, without enough classrooms, furniture, books, laboratory and teachers. Recently the authority of the polytechnic of Ibadan, one of tertiary institutions in the state hiked the school fees by 200%. By this increment, students running OND and HND programme who were paying fees range of N25,000 N30,000 before now pay between N60,000 N80,000.

Oyo state remains the only state in the federation that has refused to make a categorical commitment as to when the 27.5% pay rise in teacher salary, also known as Teachers Salary Scale (TSS), will be implemented. This refusal will in the coming period heighten the frosty relationship between workers in the state and the government. Of recent, 6 and 11 lecturers from The Polytechnic Ibadan and Alayande College of Education, Oyo respectively were sacked for participating in the industrial action by lecturers to agitate for better pay and improved working conditions.

While Alao-Akala’s government claimed not to have money to implement a pro-people programmes (free and quality education, basic health care service, basic infrastructure like good roads, water, electricity, among others), the government sees no reason why jumbo pay for public officials should be slashed to the level of average wage of skilled workers so as to show the seriousness of a government in “financial distress”. Besides, several millions of naira is spent monthly to sustain a large army of hangers-on and to win some political opponents ahead of the next general election. Also, in addition to outright looting, the resources of the state are also drained by award of fictitious and inflated contracts to proxies and cronies.

The claim that Oyo-state is in financial distress is false and deceitful. In fact, there is no state in Nigeria that does not have enough resources to provide for the needs and welfare interest of the working and toiling masses. However, the reason for this insensitive character of every successive government in the state is rooted in their commitment to neo-liberal policies of privatization and deregulation of key sectors of the economy and major resources of the society.

This continuous attack on the living and working condition of toiling masses by every successive government not only in Oyo state but Nigeria at large therefore highlights the need for a bold, independent and fighting political platform of the working people to champion the struggle to advance the economic, political and social interest of the people. Such platform must always link its struggle for improve living and working condition to the struggle to take political power. This is necessary because experience over years has shown that the prevailing rotten capitalist system cannot reform itself and therefore calls for a working people government.

Unfortunately, the Labour Party in the state which has a huge potential to become the traditional political organ of the working people to advance their economic and political aspirations is devoid of any working class orientation. There is still a very low profile of participation and commitment of trade unions, labour leaders, workers, artisans, youths and working people organizations in the party. To better build the party, the members of DSM in Oyo state have been campaigning for the following:

i.Massive involvement and participation of trade unions, socialist and working people’s organisation in the party.

ii. Formulation of programme of activities that will orientate the party towards to the socio-economic and political demands and aspirations of workers, youths and masses.

iii. Building of functional structures in wards, local government and workplaces.

iv. Adoption of a rank and file, bottom to top democratic structure that will allow members to express their democratic right and collectively build the party.

v. Constant identification of the party with people in their struggle against neo-liberal attacks on living standard, education, health care, working conditions, etc.