Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



(By Chinedu Bosah)

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) election that took place on May 24, 2013, has come and gone but the controversy still lingers on. Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi scored 19 votes while Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang scored 16 votes with Yobe State Governor absent. The NGF was formed several years ago by the governors and does not have a constitutional role or mandate. Former Governors Abdullahi Adamu, Victor Attah and Bukola Saraki have led the NGF in the past.

The NGF election has clearly demonstrated how the ruling class disregards democratic ethos and principle and this is reflected in the way and manner the major political parties conduct their affairs. If 36 governors cannot conduct an acceptable election amongst themselves, how would anybody expect them to conduct free and fair elections in their own states – it is like expecting he-goat to produce milk. Ordinarily, the NGF election wouldn’t have caused any disagreement but for the power struggle characterized by ego and 2015 general election.

Governors who voted for Amaechi are as undemocratic as governors who were backed by the presidency and have refused to honour the election outcome going by the way and manner they govern their respective states. For instance, many of these governors have at one time or the other muscled the local governments (LG) in their respective states and have gone ahead to undemocratically sack local governments and install a more pliant LG administrators or caretaker committee contrary to Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution, which guarantees that the local government can only be run by democratically elected representatives.

The self acclaimed progressive party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is not in any way different. Just to cite one instance, Governor Fayemi of Ekiti State sacked all the local government chairmen, deputy chairmen and councilors and then undemocratically installed his administrators and hoping to conduct elections after the gubernatorial election in 2014 so as to return all anointed ACN candidates.. Prior to 2011 general election, Mr. Bola Tinubu imposed a list of candidates that did not pass through democratic primary election with his wife as one of them, the National Chairman of ACN told the whole world how undemocratic bourgeois parties are when he stated that party congress to elect flag bearers can only be decided by the party leaders and not by the general members. In the same vein, the Presidency bribed and coerced delegates into voting for Jonathan. Hence, bourgeois democracy is nothing but a dictatorship of the tiny ruling class.

President Goodluck Jonathan wanted Governor Rotimi Amaechi replaced as the Chairman of the NGF as one of the steps at neutralizing Amaechi’s political influence in Rivers State and beyond. Amaechi has been rumoured to nurture the ambition of contesting for the 2015 election as Vice President (which means that another South-South personality will be in the 2015 race) and has also led an opposition to Jonathan-led federal government sharing formula of funds accruable to the federal, state and local governments.

In any case, the state governors have gone to court against the federal government over the establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and the withdrawal of the $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) as seed fund for SWF and have threatened to do same if the federal government implements its proposal to deduct 1% from funds accruable to the various governments to fund the Police. Though, it is not the first time governors will be suing the federal government over sharing formula of funds, but this time around the Jonathan Presidency feels threatened by the coming together of other bourgeois opposition forces and the obvious crack in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the 2015 general election approaches.

However, basic disagreement between these politicians has always been about who gets what and ego, and only political power can guarantee that. It is certainly not about the interest of the people. These major political office holders irrespective of party lines are always in agreement whenever they attack the living standard of the working class.

For instance, the January 2012 fuel price hike was backed by all the governors, including the Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole who previously as a former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had led several general strikes against fuel price hikes. While these politicians earn jumbo salaries and allowances, they refused to implement the very modest N18,000 minimum wage and where they claim to have implemented, it is an adulterated implementation. There are attacks like demolition of houses without compensation and alternatives, ban on okada riders and bus drivers, over taxation etc.

Governor Amaechi who now speaks of fundamental human rights, having become a victim of dictatorship of President Jonathan, illegally demolished several waterfronts communities in Port Harcourt and rendered hundreds of people homeless. He also ordered armed Police to shoot at peaceful protesters who were protesting the demolitions in 2009 despite having pending cases in court wherein the communities sued the Rivers State Government. The same senseless demolition has taken place in Lagos – the most recent being the demolitions of Makoko and Ijora Badia, where the poor reside. The same police Amaechi used against homeless demonstrators are no longer directly under his control and are now being used against him as both camps fight shamelessly over who controls the House of Assembly, PDP machinery in the state and the control of Obio/Akpor LGA.

The working masses must not take side with any of these political actors or political parties in their scuffles. They are all collaborators and partners in crime. As 2015 approaches, there will be grandiose campaigns, media jingles, enticing promises and empty rhetoric from politicians from PDP, ACN, ANPP, CPC, APGA, Labour Party and the so called mega party (APC). A working peoples’ party is desirable to be the voice of the working masses and defend the interest of the working class. Workers and the poor need their own party to organize and challenge for political power and fundamentally build a revolutionary mass movement to change society.