Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Dagga Tolar

The pronouncement by Dan Nwanyanwu, National Chairman of the Labour Party that the party would not be standing any Presidential candidate for the coming 2011 General election was explained on the excuse that the available individuals who had indicated interest to contest for the party’ ticket are not rich enough to foot the election expenses. These include placing two party agents at the existing 120,000 polling booths nationwide, which translates according to him to N240 million, not to talk of other expenses “to buy buses for the campaign and have campaign offices in the entire 36 states of the federation, including the FCT.”

As pragmatic as the above position seems on the surface, it only further confirms the fact that the Labour Party, as presently constituted in letter and spirit, is characterized by the money bag politics that is the dominant driving force of the ruling bourgeois political formations like the PDP, ACN, ANPP etc.

These same parties with their neo liberal capitalist economic paradigm are to be blame for condemning the working masses to perhaps some of the worst of standards of living anywhere in the world in spite of the enormous revenue that have accrued to the coffers of the state in this past period.

This is one of the reasons why a party for the working masses is imperative, a party that would serious fight for a better life for the majority, that would oppose capitalism, and seek to employ the resources of society for the benefit of the working masses, instead of the present arrangement of meet the need and profit of a few.

Since 2000 the trade unions have played a significant role by using their platform to ventilate the opposition of the workers, poor farmers and all other oppressed strata to the policy of deregulation of the oil sector and high price of petroleum products, with the over seven well supported general strikes against increase in the pump price of fuel, and forcing the ruling elites to retreat. This has, among other things, confirmed the ability of the working class to lead other oppress strata, indeed the rest of society, to confront the ruling elites, and indeed overthrow them. But for this to be done there must be a party and a programme that would seek to put the needs and aspiration of the working masses first and foremost as opposed to the profit first interest and privileges of a rich few.

It was therefore a welcome development, when in 2002 the trade union leaders registered a party. But as things have turned out, the thinking of the labour leaders is far away from seeking to fundamentally transform society to better the lot of the working masses, if anything they only seek to be absorbed into the crop of the ruling elites. This explains why Adams Oshiomhole, under whose tenure as NLC president a series of general strikes between 2000 and 2007 were conducted, would rather contest in Edo under the ticket of what is now ACN, as opposed to the Labour Party that himself had initially played no little role in bringing about. The latest falling out between the LP and ACN in Edo, Ekiti and Ondo has nothing to do with principled politics; rather it is a dispute over positions.

As things stand the LP has become a party of the moneybags and dominated by anti-poor politicians. Its electoral credo is anchored on pricing the ticket of the party to the highest bidder from a list of candidates who have been denied ticket in any of their favoured ruling party (PDP, ACN, etc). This is the situation in Bayelsa, where Timi Alaibe (ex-PDP), has been given the gubernatorial ticket of the LP to contest the coming governorship election. In Lagos state, the so called LP governorship candidate, Olulana, is a surrogate of the governor of the state Babatunde Fashola, who had been sent as a plant to procure the ticket of the party, in wait for Fashola if by chance he were not given the ticket of the ACN, something that was possible given the then rift between him the overall owner of the party, Bola Tinubu. With that rift settled, the LP candidate is expected to hold the party down for the ACN and its candidate Fashola.

Dele Momodu who had earlier publicly sought the presidential ticket of the LP, had to quit because, according to him, to the leaders of the Labour Party “political process was more of a business than trying to change Nigeria.” If a business tycoon like Dele Momodu could not afford the ticket of the party, it only means that the ticket of the party is practical closed for any working class based candidate. The ticket is simply not available for workers, given that the money to be paid as nomination fees to contest. What flows from the above is that LP is in no way a party for workers, but it enjoys using the name of workers to attract members of the bourgeois to procure it ticket in their bid to get to power by all means. This cannot be a real party for workers. Trade unions and workers have to reclaim and build it as a fighting working peoples’ party or form another party of the working people run on a socialist programme.

As we approach 2011 general elections, one cannot but bemoan the fact that the working masses will not have a platform of their own with which to contest power with the ruling elites. But this does not mean that the working class will be silent or will not struggle after these elections, sooner or later that is inevitable given Nigeria’s crisis. The challenge for workers and socialists is to see how to form and build a distinct political organization, anchored on a programme of the revolutionary transformation of society, through the nationalization of the commanding sectors under the democratic management of the working people and deployment of state resources for the benefit of all.