Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

RIVERS’ STATE CRISIS: Independent Working Class Political Solution Needed

RIVERS’ STATE CRISIS: Independent Working Class Political Solution Needed

No Support for Rotimi Amaechi or other section of the ruling elite

(By Ayo Ademiluyi, DSM Rivers/Bayelsa)

In a demonstration of the prevailing madness that characterize bourgeois politics in Nigeria, the attempt by five lawmakers to impeach the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi has set in motion another series of drama of infamy. Another angle to the crisis was the attempt by the Rivers State Government to seize control of the Obio/Akpor Local Government that was in the hands of anti-Amaechi forces.

Virtually all the LGs are like departments of the state governments wherein the governors run them like their personal projects. In fact, the pro-Amaechi dominated Rivers House of Assembly on April 17, 2013 suspended the Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Mr. Timothy Nsirim, the Vice Chairman and 17 councilors on alleged financial recklessness and appointed a Caretaker Committee Chairman, Mr. Chkordi Dike. There is monumental looting taking place on a daily basis at all levels of government including agencies. Amaechi only removed Obio/Akpor Local Government Chairman and councilors not because he loves the people but due to their loyalty to his political foe, Mr. Nyesom Wike, a two-time chairman of the council who was Amaechi’s former Chief of Staff and the current Minister for state for Education when the going was still good.

This scenario, seen by many working class elements is the usual in-fighting between the Rivers ruling elite, which does not have any link with the urgent need for the socio-economic transformation of the state. The struggle between Amaechi and the anti-Amaechi forces is centered on who controls political power come 2015 in River state and to some extent in 2015 general election. Amaechi is presently not in the good books of the presidency and top PDP members, this has created the factionalisation of the PDP in the Rivers State and fuelled the crisis in Rivers State House of Assembly.

However, these political gladiators never disagreed on Amaechi’s demolition of the waterfront communities in Port Harcourt that rendered thousands of people homeless without compensation neither was there any disagreement when Amaechi refused to improve on the working condition of workers in Rivers State University of Technology (RUST) in particular and workers in general. Not even the ACN stalwart who are not in any way different but claim to be progressives raised an eyebrow when Amaechi attacked the working people at different times. The same Amaechi instructed armed police to shoot defenseless protesters who were publicly showing their resentment against the demolition of their houses in 2009 and is now talking tough when Police is being used against his interest. The irony of it is that the Rivers State ACN leadership is supporting the anti-Amaechi forces while the national leadership who are only shopping for PDP renegades is backing Amaechi.

However, the response of the trade union leaders is condemnable. The NLC in Rivers’ State went ahead to express full solidarity with Rotimi Amaechi. The NLC in the press statement on the crisis, titled “CHECK THE DESCENT TO ANARCHY” condemned the ugly mess taking place in Rivers’ State and maintained that it would not hesitate to “call out worker in the state to resist the crisis”. While it is correct for a trade union centre to condemn the absurdity, it is politically wrong to drum support for a section of the thieving ruling elite who is enmeshed in a power struggle against other section. Though it is not surprising that the Rivers State NLC is backing Amaechi as virtually all the leaderships of the NLC and the TUC at various states of the federation are in the pouch of the state governors. They however occasionally succumb to the pressure of rank and file workers to engage the state government in struggles to win concession.

Despite the quarrels and squabbles, those involved will resolve their quarrels in such a way wherein those who lost out in the power struggle will be accommodated one way or the other; they will be united against the working people. This goes to show that the struggle is not about the welfare of the masses since the ruling elite are in agreements in several anti-people policies and programs.

Working masses must not give any support to any of the camps. They stand for the interest of the working class. The struggle is majorly for who controls political power and the ‘cake’. The main task therefore confronting the working masses is to build an independent genuine mass working people’s political party, clearly standing on a socialist programme to chase away the thieving ruling class. But this would also require the reclaiming of the trade unions from the grip of bureaucrats. The rank-and-file of the trade union movement must be prepared to remove bankrupt trade union leaders and replace them with fighting class-conscious leaders that will be subject to recall.