NIGERIA: Capitalist Crisis and the Socialist Alternative
NIGERIA: Capitalist Crisis and the Socialist Alternative
Resolution on Nigeria Situation: DSM 21st Congress 2013
Segun Sango leading the discussion on Nigerian situation, DSM congress 2013, photo DSM
Nigeria is caught up at a cross-road: between the road to revolutionary change and that of ethno-religious conflagration. In the present and coming period, the task of socialists is to campaign consistently within and outside the labour movement about the urgent necessity of building a political alternative that can prevent the latter by successfully uniting the working masses around a programme of socialist change.
Due to the deep social inequality and extreme wealth polarisation, non-existent public infrastructures, record levels of unemployment and shamelessly corrupt ruling elite that characterise the country today, it does not require the gift of clairvoyance to know that there is a wellspring of feelings and desire for “revolutionary” change. Even some members of the ruling elite have voiced some opinion expressing this fear. So huge is the level of economic and political failure of all the ruling political parties that, if given a clear cut social political alternative, the overwhelming majority of Nigerians would unhesitatingly demand an immediate end to the prevailing political dispensation.
Unfortunately, given the fact that majority of the leadership of the organizations of the working masses and youths are totally devoid of socialist political ideas and strategy, which can ensure that Nigeria’s abundant human and natural resources are mobilized to abolish underdevelopment and mass misery, the current rulers and looters may remain in power till 2015 general elections and even beyond.
At the same time as this is the rise in ethno-religious tension which threatens to drag society into a spiral of violence and bloodletting. The crisis, which is caused by the undemocratic colonial heritage that has produced a country divided along unbalanced ethnic lines, is currently being ignited by the bankrupt character of various sections of the corrupt political class, in their rabid struggle for the control of the oil wealth. However, this crisis is fuelled, on the one hand, by the vicious cycle of youth unemployment, mass poverty, and expected palpable discontent and anger of rapidly increasing numbers of young people and the poor, and on the other hand by the failure of labour to offer an alternative. Unless the working class comes to power, the ethno-religious crises in the offing may lead to ethnic conflict and civil war, reminding us of the horrible 3 years of civil war between 1967 and 1970 in which over 1 million people were killed. Of course, the working and poor people, along with socialists, do not want this scenario in the picture. but unless, as a first step, the labour movement unite the working and poor people across the country through mass movement against anti-poor and poverty-inducing policies, and build a pan-national working people’s political alternative, divisive tendencies, being ignited and fanned by the capitalist class may lead the country to a blind alley
For understandable reasons, consciousness still lags behind reality. As we feared, the betrayal of the January 2012 anti-fuel subsidy removal/fuel hike general strike still hangs like a leaden stone on the consciousness of many. Moreover, the hundreds of revelations since then of corruption and outright looting of the treasury by members of the ruling elite, the ferocious implementation of anti-poor policies by all the political parties including the ACN now APC and of course the retreat of the leadership of labour on all fronts including on the struggle for N18,000 minimum wage have all left the working people, youth and poor masses in a state of stunned perplexity.
It is not that there is no anger. Indeed people are angrier and less impressionable than they have ever been. Evidence is the Jonathan regime which lost credibility less than a year into office and is now one of the most unpopular regimes so far. Also many of the opposition party-controlled governments in Osun, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti States have quickly lost credibility few months into office on the basis of their implementation of anti-poor policies which are not in anyway different from that of the PDP-led governments they displaced. Equally there is a willingness to fight which is seen in some of the small workers strikes and protests that have taken place in some sectors.
What is missing is a revolutionary leadership of the labour movement, student/youth movement and of the unorganised masses that comprehends the crisis of poverty and underdevelopment in Nigeria as a crisis of capitalism and the solution as that of a socialist transformation of society. Every sector of Nigeria is in such a dire strait that urgently calls for the socialist alternative we proffer. A key task building a movement that can implement such an alternative is to help develop a widespread socialist consciousness, an understanding that ending the crisis is not simply replacing one leader with another or just concentrating on stopping corruption, but removing the yoke of capitalism and imperialism.
ECONOMY: AN OIL DRIVEN BUT JOBLESS GROWTH
The working and poor masses are in no doubt that President Jonathan’s government has failed on the economy. But to Jonathan administration there are enough figures to show that the economy is waxing strong. The Minister of Finance, Okonjo Iweala, for instance said in the last two years, the GDP had recorded significant growth as the one of fastest in the world. The dollar exchange rate had remained stable between N155 and N160. External reserve rose from $32.08bn in May 2011 to $48.4 billion as of May, 2013.
These impressive figures being gleefully reeled out are not product of any deliberate economic policy or special wizardry of the economic team of the administration. They are indicators of high price of crude oil which has been sold around $100 in the last two years. However, it must always be remembered that the price of oil can go down as well as up and, oil, once mined, cannot be replaced in the ground. Oil accounts for around 80 percent of government revenues. Indeed, the oil revenue is now under serious threat of sophisticated oil theft. For instance, in July the oil revenue plummeted by about 42% as a result of oil theft and failing oil production.
Besides, it must be stressed that having impressive figures to brag about are not unprecedented as the Obasanjo government had similar record, and just like what presently obtains there was nothing fundamentally to show for it in term of infrastructure development and living condition of the masses . Indeed, in the last one decade Nigeria and a few other African countries are among the fastest growing economies in the World. Moreover, the external reserve put at $48.4 billion as of May 2013 should have been much more than that given the accusation by Oby Ezekwesilli, a minister in the Obasanjo government and a former Vice President of World Bank, which has not been reasonably refuted, that Yar’Adua/Jonathan government squandered about $45bn in the reserve left by the Obasanjo government.
Nigeria currently faces gargantuan problems in all areas of socio-economic and political endeavours. The nation’s economy has further nosedived under the President Jonathan-led federal government, lower than any other time since 1999. “81% of Nigerians assessed government’s performance in managing the economy as very bad and fairly bad; but only 19% assessed the government’s performance as very well and fairly well. 85% of Nigerians think the present government has performed very badly in improving the living standard of the poor while only 15% think the government is doing very well in improving the living standard of the poor”. (Leadership, March 26, 2013).
Not darkest Africa, but darkest Nigeria – 120 million without electricity. Nigeria’s population of over 160 million people and the country’s large industrial concerns share a mere 4,000 megawatts of electricity. South Africa which roughly has a third of Nigeria’s population produces 45,000 megawatts! Yet, not all South Africans have electricity. The US government’s Energy Information Agency drily notes, “Nigeria has vast natural gas, coal and renewable energy resources that could be used for domestic electricity generation. However, the country lacks policies to harness resources and develop new (and improve current) electricity infrastructure.”
The roads have become congested and degraded with transport costs, times and accident rates all increasing over time. A reliable rail freight service would boost the economy. “By the time it was shut in 2009, the number of annual passenger rail trips in Nigeria had fallen to 1.3m, down from 11.3m in 1963. The drop in goods moved was even steeper from 3m tones to 500,000 tones. In the continent second biggest economy, growing consistently at more than 6% a year, rail transport was effectively dead.” (Financial Times, London, March 27, 2013). Nigeria is forced to import most of petroleum products because of poor and inadequate infrastructure. Crude oil production in Nigeria has also suffered in recent years, because of militant campaigns and sabotage in the Niger Delta region.
There are increasing questions over the future level of oil revenue, but apart from their “take the money and run” attitude the ruling elite have no serious alternative plans for Nigeria. A few months away from her one hundred years birthday, Nigeria’s capitalist rulers hinge on the profit motive all the hopes of generating and transmitting the electricity needed to drive the economy and society from its present primitivity to meet industrial and social needs. To achieve this lofty goal, government at all levels irrespective of political party has totally adopted a private sector driven strategy, something which has never provided planned and balanced development.
Few years back, starting under president Obasanjo’s presidency, government has appropriated close to $50b supposedly to guarantee stable electricity for industrial and social needs. Presently government has sold all the plants built to attain this end to private profit merchants named “independent producers” for less than $2b! Independent Power Producers Association of Nigeria (IPPAN) has held a meeting with government officials listing numerous “challenges” that stand between the country and stable electricity. According to IPPAN chairman, Prof. Jerry Gana, “Nigeria has enough gas reserve. This is not in doubt, but there is a number of bottle necks concerning the supply in the private power projects”. To mitigate these “challenges”, IPPAN has called on government to further invest in electricity projects after privatization!
“There should be an interim intervention by the federal government to facilitate the supply of prepaid meter, especially in the new era of private power sector. Now on transmission. From the very first day I came on board, I started crying on the transmission. There are some hitches and that is why I don’t talk about megawatts anymore. We might come up with 10,000mws and might not be able to transmit all. That is why a huge sum of what is being realized as proceeds of the sale of the NIPP project, about $1.6 billion, has been set out to finance transmission. In addition, the World Bank is funding with $800 million, from African Development Bank (AfDB). French Development Bank is funding with another $170 million to aid transmission. When you look at this, we would say there is a huge investment going on for transmission. We hope with these, we will be able to produce the 10,000mws and at the same time wheel it out for full distribution. I forgot to mention the $500 million we got from the Chinese EXIM bank still for transmission.” (Guardian, August 19, 2013).
As we write, Nigeria is the only major oil exporting country that does not have sufficient and functional infrastructure to produce the fuel and gas it needs, and as such appropriate close to one trillion naira annually for importation of petroleum products! Allegedly to end this sheer system madness all the ruling capitalist political parties have accepted to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) fervently being canvassed by multinational oil corporations and their local partners. When this happens, the present limited control which Nigeria has over its oil and gas wealth will be completely transferred to international oil barons. This, the masses are being told is the best way to guarantee petroleum products.
The ruling class, despite all bragging about diversification, are bereft of any solution, even medium term, to diverse Nigeria’s economy away from oil nor can they reconcile their reliance on oil rents and royalties with the need to industrialize the economy. While there is much fuss about telecoms sector, the reality is that the sector has yielded no fundamental solution to unemployment. While there is of course rise in phone lines from less than 500, 000 15 years ago to as much as 110 million mobile lines as at first quarter 2013, this is not the full picture. Majority of line holders, as a result of terrible telecom services, have two or more active lines, implying less than half the population are connected. Worse still, the telecom industry, despite having earned more than a trillion naira in the last ten years, still contribute an insignificant percentage to employment generation. Majority of so-called telecom sector employments consist of people who sell recharge cards â€“ many of them educated â€“ but surviving from hand to mouth.
Of course, little industrial activities may occur in the coming period, possibly to exploit the huge population. However, aside these activities being product of state massive hand-outs to these investors, they will never spur Nigeria’s economy neither can they fundamentally improve the terrible unemployment rate. Currently, there has been media hype over planned oil refinery by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote. Despite, the huge financial outlay of the project, costing about ($9 billion), it will create just 9, 000 direct jobs and 25, 000 indirect (mostly subsistence, and low income) jobs. In fact, a good number of these jobs will only replace those to be lost through reduction in oil importation. Meanwhile, as adduced to by Dangote himself, the project was possible because of government’s “favourable policies” â€“ read hand-outs (fuel price increase, deliberate destruction of state-owned refineries, etc).
As against expectation, the building of refinery will not mean reduction in fuel price. On the basis of global oil price and high cost of production (as a result of collapse infrastructures), there will only be very marginal difference in cost between locally produced and imported fuel (freight costs contributes about 30 percent of cost of oil import). Moreover, this will mean government now diverting subsidy budget to Dangote and not oil importers (many of whom will possibly invest in the business). This is not just an isolated case. Currently, Nigeria has more than full capacity to produce cement, but this has not led to reduction in cement price, while there is still over 20 million housing deficit according to government sources. In fact, local price of cement is much higher than international price. This has led to a tug of war between Dangote Cement (the major cement producer) and cement importers over price. All of this reflects the fact that Nigeria cannot improve economically, at least in the interests of the majority working and poor people, on the basis of capitalist. Only a socialist alternative, that prioritize massive deployment of human, natural and material resources of the country to lift majority out of poverty and want can resolve Nigeria’s economic quagmire.
One crucial prospect that has failed to bother the capitalist ruling elite is what happens if suddenly this “oil boom” contracts as a result of a substantial drop in Nigeria’s reserve, discovery of oil in commercial quantities elsewhere like in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa or as in the case of shale oil in the US etc. Under capitalism, the implication of this, no matter how minimal, for Nigeria would be drastic cut in social service and more attack on working people generally, vis-Å•-vis reduction, reversal of gains on workers’ wages, attack on pension, among others. A graphic example of this is seen in the peak period of global economic recession, when oil price fell from its “July” height of $147 to as low as around $40 per barrel in November, 2008, and oil production reduced drastically due to militant insurgency. The ruling class will ensure that it offloads the burden of this on the working class and use the opportunity to launch new attacks on the working and poor people. The labour leadership, on the basis of its pro-capitalist outlook, will abandon its reformist toga, and may be railroaded into accepting if not totally, some of the austerities that will be launched. However, mass pressure of workers â€“ through local, factory, workplace and independent struggles â€“ and the poor will also put enormous pressure on labour leadership, and may force it to lead resistance, which with some objective situations/conditions, may bring back the idea of another “January” revolt.
Here we immediately see the superb advantage of a democratically planned socialist economy over the anarchy of capitalism. Under socialism, we do not have to wait for this eventuality before Nigeria is made to diversify into clean and environmentally friendly new energy sources, rapid investment in agriculture and other areas in order to shift the economy from dependence of crude oil. All these can be done without loss of job for those previously working in the oil industry. But this is impossible under capitalism without throwing some onto the high road of unemployment and penury.
COST OF LIVING ON THE RISE
Recently Okonjo-Iweala said the rate of inflation had dropped to 9.1 per cent from 12.4 per cent in May 2011. The reality is that this does not reflect in the prices of foods and other consumer goods which have continued to point northward. The effects of the January 2012 hike in fuel price on cost of living have not abated. For instance, every household is a power station with at least a generating set run on petrol for domestic needs as a result of failure of public electricity whose generation is below 4,000 megawatt for a population of over 160 million. For the same reason artisans rely on fuel to run their businesses.
This has been worsened by the government abandoning of social service like education in line with neo-liberal capitalist agenda which means that a good number of people have to seek private solution to ensure quality education for their children at primary and secondary school levels. According to the Minister of Education Ruqayyatu Rufai out of 1.7 million that wrote joint entrance examination to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education this year only about 520,000 will be offered admission (Punch, April 28, 2013). This scary situation is as a result of inadequate funding of tertiary education and misappropriation of the limited available resources.
In the report Nigeria is said to have become the highest investment destination in Africa. This is not impossible given the huge population of the country, the largest in Africa, which the world capitalist elements and their anti-poor government are anxious to subject to super exploitation. Besides, most of the new investment are in oil sector and consumer goods retailing which create only very few jobs. The poor infrastructure has meant that the manufacturing remains in doldrums and does not only fail to attract new investment but also see existing factories closing shop with attendant job losses. This explains why the so-called monumental investments have not created significant jobs. They are essentially “jobless” investments.
In what appears to be orchestrated propaganda to paint “all is well” picture of the economy, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shortly after the mid-term report publication gave the rate of the unemployment at 24%, around 40 million Nigerians. Some sources, for instance by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC,) put the unemployment rate as high as 60%. Even by the official figure the number of the unemployed is colossal. This is almost four-fifth of the population of South Africa – Africa’s biggest economy!
Putting aside percentage abracadabra what the government town criers find difficult to deny is the monumental evidence of unemployment in Nigeria especially among the young people. Away from glamorous faÃ§ade of the midterm report, Okonjo Iweala in July apparently lamented at a public function, “According to the National Bureau of Statistics, each year, about 1.8 million young Nigerians enter into our labour market and we need to ensure that our economy provides jobs for themâ€¦In fact, some people ask, ‘What keeps you awake at night, with regard to this economy?’ I say it is the issue of job creation. And I know this is what keeps Mr. President (Goodluck Jonathan) awake at night as well.”
It would be at the peril of the working people to consider this a genuine concern. Given the rabid anti-poor capitalist character of Okonjo-Iweala and Jonathan government, such concern is more akin to acting the character in the popular quote from Leo Tolstoy’s What Then Must We Do?, “I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back.” What Okonjo-Iweala, Jonathan and the rest of the elite fear is a revolt of these jobless and futureless youths, the challenge for labour is whether it can give direction to this inevitable revolt or whether other forces step in to exploit young peoples’ anger.
The solution of capitalist class is to worsen the problem under the guise of providing solution within the framework of capitalism. For instance, the federal government and many state governments are now formally legalizing casual labour â€“ an illegal practice formerly restricted to the private sector. Tens of thousands are now being employed on what is termed “empowerment and volunteer” schemes, where youths are paid peanuts (much lower than the meagre N18, 000 minimum wage) and are denied trade union, and other workers’ rights. The capitalist politicians are banking on huge unemployment rate in the country to drive down working conditions of the employees. With this action, the private sector is being emboldened to continue the horrible casual labour practice as seen in the case of Dura Pack. Moreover, these schemes, which actually employ a tiny fraction of ever-increasing unemployed population, will be used by governments as alibi e.g. Osun State placement on the league of states with the least unemployment and poverty rates in Nigeria by NBS was partially based on this scheme. Unfortunately, the labour movement has been lame in organizing these layers of the working people. While on the basis of widespread unemployment, some employed people in these various casual work schemes may initially accept these horrible conditions, but as economic realities bite, many will react. Already, in Osun State, the flagship state of this practice, there was protest some three months by those engaged in this scheme over unpaid stipends. While organizing and campaign within this layer of underemployed may yield positive result, it is not also impossible that this layer may also be used to attack workers and their welfare conditions. Interestingly, the World Bank that lamented bitterly about unemployment and underemployment has recommended this scheme for governments in Nigeria.
But the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), a subsidiary of the World Bank, with its recent report has literarily torn apart the midterm report and figures being thrown around by the government and its officials. It reads in part, “In sum, statistics on poverty and unemployment in Nigeria, together with other direct indicators of welfare, suggest a story that is rather different from the national accounts data. The GDP growth has not been sufficient to support levels of poverty reduction and job creation necessary to prevent a growing number of poor and unemployed (underemployed) Nigerians.”
The AfDB therefore suggests that “It is imperative that Nigeria finds a recipe to unlock rapid growth and job creation in a larger part of the country, as well as to increase standards of education, health, and other social services to enable its citizens to find gainful employment in the emerging growth poles.”
This is good talk even though with tongue in cheek. This is because it is the anti-poor capitalist neo-liberal economic model espoused and promoted by the World Bank among other imperialist agencies that explains while GDP growth does not reflect in job creation and good living conditions of the working people. Incidentally it is the same economic paradigm that has been advanced by the World Bank as the solution to the crisis of poverty in the midst of huge human and material resources in Nigeria. However, while they share the same neo-liberal capitalist philosophy with Nigeria’s economic management team, headed by Okonjo-Iweala incidentally seconded to Nigeria by World Bank, what AfDB apparently finds unacceptable is the falsehood being unashamedly peddled around by Jonathan in the name of achievement. But all these hopes being professed by the AfDB and any other international capitalist institutions are mere exercises in futility. Capitalism is incapable of delivering a harmonious socio-economic development for Nigeria and indeed for all of humanity.
To be sure, mass poverty and poor living standards are not a peculiar phenomenon of the mass of Nigeria nor that of Africa and other under-developed capitalist societies. It is a phenomenon that is characteristic of capitalist economic relations and governance, even in countries regarded as most developed. Over the past decades the imperialist countries have entered a new period of crisis with sharp economic booms and slumps, growing social polarisation and falling living standards for poorest in society. For instance, “four out of 5 US adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream. For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households living in poverty with children surpassed or equalled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million. Since 2000, the poverty rate among working class whites has grown faster than among working class non-whites, rising 3 percentage points to 11 percent as the recession took a bigger toll among lower-wage workers.” (The Associated Press, July 29, 2013).
Only a socialist government of the workers and poor that is committed to public ownership of the main means of production and natural resources including Banks and Finance Institutions and steadfastly committed to working class democracy can utilize Nigeria’s abundant human an natural resources for the benefit of all and not just the capitalist few rich, which dominate the economy and society nationally and internationally.
THE NATIONAL QUESTION
Politically, Nigeria faces ferocious ethno-religious conflict across the country. Presently, agitations by armed groups in Niger Delta for “Resource Control” or self-determination seem to have considerably gone down. However, to sustain the present truce, tens of billions of naira are being paid to militia leaders and their supporters under an amnesty package implemented since the time of late president Musa Yar’Adua. Notwithstanding, Nigeria is currently losing, an approximated revenue of about N6 billion monthly due to crude oil theft allegedly being perpetrated by members and supports of the Niger Delta militia groups. In the neighbouring South-East region, cacophonic agitation by MOSOB for a Biafra Republic has been raging for several years with lots of killings perpetrated by the state forces striving to forcibly quell this movement.
Since around 1997 before the present civilian dispensation, a one-time politically powerful ethno-nationalist movement called Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) has developed in the South West of the country demanding self-determination for the descendants of Oduduwa – under a local rallying call of “Ileya, Ileya o, OmoOduduwa, Ileya”. Since the return to civil rule in 1999, parts of Middle-Belt, particularly Benue and Plateau States, have been gripped by persistent murderous ethno-religious conflicts which have caused tens of thousands death with hundreds of thousands dislocated from their homes and means of livelihood.
However, all the aforementioned events appear as a child’s play, when placed side by side with the raging Boko Haram insurgency in North East since 2009. Up till date, an estimated 5,000 persons have lost their lives to the murderous armed campaigns by the Boko Haram insurgents, who have been repeatedly demanding that part or the whole country become an Islamic state, and the state security forces allegedly striving to forcibly suppress the insurgents. Currently, government has imposed a full state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, in the quest to forcibly bring the Boko Haram menace to an end. So far, this has only had little effect on the murderous campaigns of the insurgents, while hundreds are still being frequently killed by Boko Haram and the state security forces in the states under state of emergency.
The often brutal, and undemocratic, methods of the security forces often actually only serve to help recruit more to Boko Haram. The recent killing of the innocent homeless people, mostly artisans, who were squatting at an uncompleted building in Abuja by the operatives of the SSS under the guise of fighting Boko Haram shows that the security operatives are as blood-sucking as Boko haram insurgents. Furthermore the state’s organisation of vigilante groups only threatens to deepen the country’s ethnic and religious divisions because most of these unofficial groups are not under the democratic control of the communities they profess to defend but are a law unto themselves. Socialists demand the bringing into the democratic control of the communities all vigilante groups and the inclusion in them everyone, irrespective of religion and ethnicity, who wish to participate in the efforts to defend and protect their community against Boko Haram menace. However, while socialists canvass for the democratic control of vigilante groups under the communities, it needs to be stressed that the spontaneous creation of vigilante confirms the correctness and practicability of DSM’s proposal of regional-wide democratic defence committee. This, if linked together with discussion and struggle against atrocities by government’s military occupation, and mass struggle for better living conditions, will not only defeat terrorists, but will raise the consciousness of the people and push the government to the defensive. However without this growth of vigilantes could herald a sharper ethnic and religious divide.
Military strikes will not fundamentally end the Boko Haram menace nor prevent resurgence of terrorism and violence elsewhere like the Niger Delta, Plateau State and other flashpoints of ethno-religious crisis in Nigeria. The first thing to recognise is that the incidence of ethno-religious crises is caused by the unjust and undemocratic manner in which the entity called Nigeria was formed by the British Colonialists. Under this arrangement, nations previously not dominated by any other and expressing no desire to coexist together under one roof, were by virtue of the administrative convenience of the ruling British colonial masters yoked together under one authority.
This undemocratic situation now coupled with the exploitative capitalist system handed over to Nigeria’s ruling elites at independence has led to an exacerbation of ethnic and religious tension on the one hand through the ethnic ruling elites who regularly invokes ethno-religious crises to aid their struggle for better share of the national cake and on the other through the failure of the leadership of the labour movement to unite the working masses around concrete social and economic issues over which they can fight to improve their conditions and overthrow capitalism.
On this basis only a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) dominated by the elected representatives of the working masses and oppressed strata which offers opportunity for the re-discussion of Nigeria and the struggle for a socialist transformation of society can begin to create the basis for an end to ethno-religious tension and crises. While today Socialists stand for a united socialist Nigeria, we also respect the desire and aspiration of ethnic nationalities to separate and form their own independent nations if they so wish.
Indeed, the DSM recognises the right to self-determination up to and including secession if that is the democratic wish of people of a given nation or group of nations in Nigeria. However as Socialists, we cannot shy away from frankly telling the masses that simply breaking Nigeria into whatever number of independent units will not primarily address the problem of mass poverty which is primarily caused by the global capitalist system. Socialists must warn the working masses that it is possible to have a Nigeria broken into several independent national or geographical components and yet still have widespread poverty in these respective entities/republics/empires unless they also break with capitalism. But separation would not be the end of the national question. Hardly any area is ethnically homogeneous. Within “minority” areas there are minorities. Fear of being a minority in an Igbo dominated state was one reason why many Ogonis supported the Federal government during the civil war. Therefore as well as supporting the right of self-determination Socialists also defend the rights of minorities and those who might suddenly become “foreigners” in the land they live in.
Equally as Socialists we stand for the complete separation of the State from religion. This is why we have always advocated against state religion which involves teaching of religion in schools and inclusion of religion as an identity in almost all areas of our national life up to the practise where government uses public money to build churches and mosques and to pay or subsidize pilgrimages to Mecca, Rome and Jerusalem.
While outlining all the above perspectives including the right to self-determination and the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC), Socialists at all times also emphasize the urgency to struggle to replace neo-colonial capitalism which is the source of mass poverty and insecurity, with a democratic socialist system only which can ensure that the basic needs and aspirations of the working masses and youths of Nigeria are met irrespective of ethnic or religious persuasion.
2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS AND THE WORKING MASSES
Under the timetable of Nigeria’s current constitution, the working and suffering masses may have to endure the country’s rulers at central and state levels until the next general elections which unfortunately are still some twenty months away! But will the 2015 general election bring forth a different dispensation, where the death grip of both international and local exploiters on Nigeria’s human and natural resources will be broken? On the basis of the above highlighted debilitating economic conditions and murderous/explosive political situation, the 2015 general elections could not be expected to bring forth a positive respite for the overwhelming majority of Nigerians presently languishing in absolute poverty and oppression.
RULING PARTY IN CRISIS
The current political crisis facing the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) threatens to exacerbate and ignite the already ferocious ethno-religious crisis. This crisis and the vitriolic outbursts and attacks that have taken place already through the Presidency using the police and security agencies against the Rivers State Governor Amaechi and his supporters is setting the tone for the more super state-sanctioned violence that will characterise the 2015 general elections. From all indications especially given the tension building up in society and among the different opposing section of the ruling elite, the 2015 general elections may go down as one of the most violent and manipulated in the history of elections in Nigeria.
For instance, unlike under the Obasanjo presidency when the EFCC was used to bulldoze out of the way political opponents who were working against his second-term and his failed third-term ambition, here under the Jonathan presidency we see a different strategy that favours bare-knuckle brawls rather than the subtlety of judicial witch hunt. This crisis has seen a free-for-all violence rock the Rivers State Assembly leading to its suspension by the National Assembly. The crisis has also seen a sitting Governor practically turned into a “common citizen” by a police commissioner receiving tacit support from the Presidency. The recent cabinet reshuffle announced by the Presidency which saw the sack of 9 ministers is equally linked to this crisis. But Governor Amaechi himself is part of the ruling class/PDP family and deserves no sympathy. His rough treatment by the Presidency is only as a result of his opposition, for personal reasons, to Jonathan’s second-term agenda and is meant to serve as example to other Governors and other anti-Jonathan forces that if the President could treat his kin in this manner, imagine how he would treat any other Governor or opponents that stands in the way of his 2015 ambition.
As a result of this crisis, the PDP has split into the “Old” PDP and the “New” PDP which contains Governor Amaechi and several other governors and national assembly members elected on the platform of the PDP as well as the party’s bigwigs like Obasanjo (who is only maintaining a public neutrality for the sake of appearance), Atiku, Oyinlola all of whom are in opposition only because they do not want President Jonathan to run for presidency again. Showing how deep the rift is, attempts have been made successfully to form the new PDP faction in several states. Already the Presidency is scared that the New PDP/anti-Jonathan forces may receive a new boost when the National Assembly resume from recess.
Though dressed up as an internal party dispute, this conflict has ramification for the whole of Nigeria including the national question and the on-coming 2015 general elections as it revolves around the disagreement among the ruling elite over which gang of looters, dressed up on ethnic base, will control the federal power and of course access to the treasury by 2015. By virtue of President Goodluck Jonathan being a Christian who hails from one of the minority South South ethnic groups – a region which is the epicentre of Nigeria’s crude oil production, this crisis unless somehow resolved amicably may further heighten ethno – religious tension possibly with a resurgence in Niger Delta militancy, reprisal attacks all which could in the long run lead to a military coup and/or even an armed conflict/civil war at some point in time.
This crisis appears as a gang-up to stop Jonathan and the South South from occupying the Presidency by 2015 and on the other hand, President Jonathan and his kith and kin in the South South will not acquiesce meekly. If no means for amicable resolution is possible, they will rather see Nigeria burn before they relinquish their “mandate”. For much of the history of Nigeria, the South South elite have been marginalised in terms of sharing of political offices including the presidency. For a long time, they have quietly watched members of the ruling elites from other ethnic group capture power through coup and elections and ending up spending 8 to 10 years.
Although this marginalisation has not stopped the South South producing some of the richest and most corrupt billionaire politicians like former Governors Alameiseigha and James Ibori, yet there is the incredible prestige and power attached to the position of President, especially more in a society majority of whose ruling elite amass their wealth primarily from treasury looting, which is worth dying for. To then ask them to spend a 4-year full term presidency and leave is an outrage they would vehemently resist with everything at their disposal.
It is impossible to predict clearly what will be the fall-out of this crisis. Given Nigeria capitalist ruling elite’ legendary corruption, it is not impossible for this whole crisis to end up as just “a storm in a tea cup” of course through the Presidency spending heavily to buy-off and ingratiate some of them and thereby re-uniting the PDP behind Jonathan. We must remember that the regime just recently successfully bought off a militant insurgency in the Niger Delta creeks with billions of Naira under the Amnesty program and it is considering doing the same for the Boko Haram crisis. There can therefore be concessions, both politically and economically to appease disgruntled elements. However, this can only postpone the crisis to a later date.
Also imperialism will not sit idly by. The US and other imperialist countries should be expected to wade in at some point to try to resolve the differences. For much of Nigeria’s history, imperialism has on many occasions, though not always successfully, had to come in to prevent Nigeria’s refractory ruling elites from tearing the country apart. For instance during the political crisis generated by late President Yar ‘Adua’s mid-term demise and also at some point before the 2011 general elections, the US played some interventionist roles in “settling” differences. For the US and imperialism however, the purpose of these interventions is not to save Nigeria for the benefit of the working masses but for the benefit of business and to protect the market and their own investments
However, as stated above, the crisis in the PDP may be settled one way or the other and the party, even if broken, may still be united behind President Jonathan as a presidential candidate for the 2015 general elections. If this happens, it will in no way guarantee a Nigeria of peace of tranquility. On the basis of Nigeria’s capitalist ruling elite’s dependence on political power for economic and political survival and also as a result of the cacophonic ethno-religious tension already building up, 2015 general elections will perhaps more than other elections be hotly and violently contested. The violent crisis that will be generated during and after the 2015 general election in both events that President Jonathan wins and loses re-election may well pose the question of a military coup. Therefore there is no easy way out of this political crisis for the ruling elite.
CAN THERE BE A MILITARY COUP?
Yes; at some point in this crisis, the possibility of a military coup and/or a civil war could be posed. But given the ethno-religious cleavages that characterize the current political crisis the prospect of a successful military coup is bleak. This does not mean a coup or an attempt of it is completely ruled out. But from all indications such coup will not enjoy the support of military officers and soldiers from every ethnic group especially those from the South and Middle Belt. Therefore, any military coup arising from the current crisis would only plunge the country further down the road towards break-up and civil war.
The situation could be similar to what obtained between the first and second coups of the 1966. While ethnic strife was not the major element in the political crisis that precipitated the first coup of January 1966 the form it took worsened the situation and introduced ethnic dimension firmly into the crisis. This coup, which claimed the lives of largely Hausa-Fulani oligarchs, was led mainly by military officers of Igbo extraction. But either by design or accident no member of the ruling elite of Igbo extraction was killed. This precipitated the ethno-political crisis that led to the pogrom of Igbo in the north, the counter-coup of June 1966 and finally the civil war.
It was a different ball game with 1983 coup which apparently enjoyed support of all the military officers irrespectively of the ethnic background. In this case the military adventurists cashed in on egregious corruption, deep economic crisis, failure of governance and massively rigged general election to take over political power. It was indeed led by northern generals against a northern President. Briefly it was welcomed by sections of the masses and is one reason why in some parts Buhari is still popular today. While the preconditions for a military coup as obtained between 1979 and 1983 equally exist, if not on greater scale at present, the ethnic character of the current political crisis makes a successful military coup far-fetched.
Besides, given their nightmarish experiences under the last stretch of military rule between 1984 and 1999 and the titanic struggle it took to end the military rule Nigerians can no longer be deceived by any military coup that promises economic recovery, fight against corruption and national stability. This is especially true of any coup led by senior military offices. Therefore, mass opposition will mostly like develop immediately or shortly after in case there is a military coup that appears to be without ethnic colouration.
The perspective of a military coup and/or an exacerbation of ethno-religious conflict up to the point of an armed conflict/civil does not augur well for the working class. This is why Socialists, labour and youth activists must intensify the campaign for the building of a political party to rid Nigeria of these refractory and corrupt capitalist ruling elite under whose rule Nigeria will continue to face a perilous prospect.
THE EMERGENCE OF APC
Just at the end of July 2013, three of the ruling opposition parties namely Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), fused together to form the new party called All Progressive Congress (APC). Here is how the APC and some of its leaders interpreted their registration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in the first official statement issued to announce the registration of APC has inter alia stated: “With the approval of our merger by INEC and the emergence of APC, today marks the beginning of a new dawn for our country and her long suffering people. We promise not to disappoint Nigerians. We will also be unveiling our plans to turn today’s hopelessness into a time of great opportunities to reverse the downward slide in our socio-economic development and to ensure that every Nigerian benefits from the commonwealth, instead of the present situation in which a few fat cats are milking the system dry at the expense of the citizenry.” (Guardian, August 1, 2013).
Earlier, the Premium Times publication of April 19, 2013 has reported the “adopted manifesto” of the APC agreed by the merging parties. In the document, the APC claimed that its government “shall plug all leakages which accelerate monumental corruption, recover looted funds, cap and trim unwarranted allowances to public office holders.” Also, the manifesto promised that the APC government shall “negotiate oil deals, unveil the secrecy surrounding the ownership of 49% of the Nigeria Liquefied, NLNG, query the over N50 trillion oil revenue which accrued to the federation account between 2000 and 2013 and recover billions of US Dollars which Ministries, Departments and Agencies failed to remit to the federation account. The party will also work assiduously at making available power from renewable energy sources such as coal solar, wind and biomass for domestic and industrial use, whenever thee prove viable. APC believes that our politics is broke. Our nation urgently needs fundamental political reform and improvement in governance to make it more transparent and accountable. The adopted manifesto also promised “to assist Nollywood to fully develop into world-class industry that can compete effectively with Hollywood and Bollywood in due course.”
In a statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Osita Okechuckwu, CNPP said the emergence of APC has taken “our democracy to the next level. Nigerians now have a golden opportunity to make choice between two dominant political parties: one anchored on social democracy and is pro-people; and one anchored on conservative and anti-people programmes as is the case in all liberal democracies”. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, so goes a saying. If the above quoted sentiments can be believed, then the suffering working masses can begin to hope that their living conditions can become better in the aftermath of 2015 election. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Meanwhile, an historical streak has been voiced by a top official of one of the merging parties, the National Publicity Secretary of CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, which when critically examined points to the fact that the current merger of capitalist parties of the pre and past independence Nigeria. Rotimi Fashakin told ThisDay newspaper that the next task before the parties will be to take inventories of their assets and liabilities for onward fusion into the APC. Fashakin, said the opposition parties merging under APC would henceforth forge a common front in campaigning for victory at future elections, beginning with the governorship election coming up in Anambra State. (ThisDay, August 1, 2013). Ipso facto, this means that the primary preoccupation of the merging parties will be how “to take inventories of their assets and liabilities”. And most important by that APC was created as a more formidable platform against PDP to fight for spoils of offices.
From the historical experience of past and present character of the self-serving capitalist politicians, the present merger can yet be shipwrecked or rendered politically ineffective on the basis of conflicts that will certainly develop as individuals within the merging parties struggle to secure for themselves and their cronies the most powerful and profitable positions within the party itself. Needless to stress, this predictable characteristic of capitalist politicians may in fact create a situation where the “new” APC may never be able to put forth a formidable challenge to the ruling PDP come 2015 general elections.
Reacting to the manifesto of the APC in the Premium Times of April 20, 2013, the spokesperson of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, in a statement on Saturday said though the ruling party “hailed the manifesto of the merging opposition, All Progressive Congress (APC)”, it is “a very poor imitation, a bland parody of the manifesto of the Peoples Democratic Party”. An uncritical observer may choose to believe the baseless fiction painted above by Okechukwu, but the truth is that the PDP spokesperson’s comment was more apt with the description of APC as “a very poor imitation, a bland parody of the manifesto of the Peoples Democratic Party.” It is no accident that the APC has been stridently trying to woo disgruntled elements organised in the New PDP into its fold, showing the fluidness of these political parties in terms of ideology and politics. Indeed, the presidential candidate of one of the main merger parties, ACN in 2007 was Atiku Abubakar, the then sitting Vice President, albeit disgruntled, of the PDP government, who went back to the PDP after the general election. Besides, many of ACN candidates at governorship and legislative elections are former members of PDP; many with serious corruption cases hanging on their necks.
For socialists and consciously working class elements, the fact that the newly emerged APC can do nothing more than the other side of a bad coin which the PDP is should not be a difficult riddle to untangle. Workers, youths and the poor must know that both the PDP and all the merging parties that formed the APC severally and collectively subscribe to the self-serving, individualistic capitalist system and policies which constitute the bedrock of mass misery of the vast majority of Nigerians in the face prodigious human and natural resources.
For instance, the states of Lagos and Osun, to mention just these two, both under the governance of ACN, the largest of the parties that fused to form APC currently operate the most expensive public tuition fee throughout the country in its universities! Expectedly, this has resulted in sharp decline in the number of students able to go to these institutions. At the same time as the NLC and TUC were lobbying the national assembly Governors Fashola of Lagos and Faremi of Ekiti were publicly supporting the Senate’ s proposed deregulation of the minimum wage. The Lagos state government under the capitalist strategy of public robbery dubbed Public, Private Partnership (PPP) started the expansion a 49 kilometres road from Victoria Island in Lagos to Epe since around 2006. Up till now, it has not completed the expansion beyond Victoria Garden City, a distance less than half of 49 kilometres!
This notwithstanding, the state government has erected two toll gates on this incomplete project where it collects huge revenues on daily basis! The ACN government daily shouts at roof tops that it is converting Lagos to a mega city. Yet, apart from the roads in few areas inhabited by the very rich like Ikoyi, Victoria Island and major inter-local government roads within the state, the vast bulk of Lagos and its hapless population have been condemned to nightmare of living in communities with unpaved roads! Provision of pipe borne water was regarded as an essential infrastructure of cities. However in the propaganda mega city of today, four-fifth of the entire communities in Lagos lack publicly run pipe borne water. Under the present civilian dispensation, all the elected executives and parliamentarians of the parties that formed the APC have severally and collectively with the PDP sold themselves and their capitalist friends all the public houses built for government officials from colonial era till now, implementing the notorious policy of privatization and commercialization.
As things stand today, the APC does not have any virtue or policy that can endear it to the vast majority of Nigerians genuinely desiring positive change in their economic, social and living conditions. In this situation the “winners” of the 2015 general elections should be expected to be determined by politicians that can deploy more state powers of manipulation, coercion and most especially money power.
The Jonathan government appears to have been confident and comfortable with the litany of lies as a result of the failure of labour leadership to confront its neo-liberal attacks and anti-poor policies with mass protest and general strike. The labour leadership has issued a number of statements to puncture the inflated records of performance of the government and condemn some anti-poor policies like increase in electricity tariff and proposed scrapping of national minimum wage.
But this has only reduced the labour to mere a paper tiger even though it has huge potential to bite with a series of mass actions. It is unfortunate that the current labour leadership has adopted hot air as the best response to the government anti-poor conduct. Even on the modest N18,000 national minimum wage that was won by struggle and signed into law since March 2011, the labour leadership has failed or refused to mobilize and deploy the colossal force of workers to compel its implementation especially by state governments and private sector employers. A recent example was the NLC and TUC’s sudden announcement of nationwide mass protests on September 17 and 18 which turned out to be sending a small delegation to the national assembly. There is now a real danger that the new minimum wage will only be applied nationally when inflation has reduced its real value to a shadow of what it was in 2011 and it should not be forgotten that N18,000 was way below the N52,200 the NLC had called for back in December 2008.
Under the prevailing PDP government and or under the unlikely APC government, the economic conditions of Nigeria and the living conditions of the vast majority of its people could only be expected to nose dive. Instinctively the working masses in all sectors seem to have seen the futility of waiting for capitalist elite to guarantee their basic needs. In all sectors, pressure and agitations by the working masses have developed with demands for better living conditions. Currently, the entire education workers from primary to tertiary levels are up in arms with government for implementation of agreement on conditions and wages struck with government several years ago.
So widespread is the level of mass dissatisfaction that if given a clear political alternative the working masses across the country will demand an immediate end to the prevailing mass misery in the midst of stupendous abundance. Unfortunately most leaders of the organizations of the working masses and youths have totally failed to proffer the necessary alternative. They are in fact scared to struggle. This is unlike the Nigerian working people. Since 2000 there have been eight massive general strikes, plus another three called off at the last moment. All the strikes, particularly the last one in January 2012, were massively supported and posed the question of ‘who runs the country?’ However, the current labour leaders are not willing to challenge the ruling class and so call off the strikes as soon as they can. Today’s labour leaders fear that if the movement continued working people themselves who start to answer the question by saying that we should take over from the rotten elite. In some of the general strikes we saw some workers and communities beginning to take the very important step of organising themselves, something which could be the basis of a new, working peoples’ Nigeria. In the last general strike one result of the labour leaders’ virtual silence was the creation of a space which the fundamentally pro-capitalist leaders of the “Save Nigeria Group” were able to partially fill with radical sounding slogans but could not offer any way forward.
This position of the labour leaders is not accidental; most trade unions leaders do no longer depend on check off dues of ordinary workers for the running of the unions. In fact, trade union organizations no longer have independent view points on how to run the economy and society. Present day trade union leaders slavishly support a private sector driven agenda being propagated by the capitalist strategists. Despite massive unemployment and poor wages, trade union leaders are not proffering a strategy that can ensure that enough jobs are created nor fight for decent working conditions for the lucky few that have jobs. Meanwhile most trade union leaders now have access to frequent international travels and lavish estacodes being paid for by capitalist government and their international trade union agencies and organizations.
But as Leon Trotsky pointed out decades ago, “the orientation of the masses is determined first by the objective conditions of decaying capitalism, and second, by the treacherous politics of the old workers’ organisations. Of these factors, the first, of course, is the decisive one: the laws of history are stronger than the bureaucratic apparatus”. As the conditions for revolution continue to mature and mass dissatisfaction increases, the bureaucratic labour leadership will continue to find its anti-struggle positions untenable. The rank and file of the labour movement will get radicalised and strive to reclaim their unions to defend their interests. Out of this inevitable clash of workers with their union bureaucracy will arise a fighting labour movement that can lead a struggle to defend workers’ interests. The DSM stands and campaigns for a democratic and fighting labour movement.
STRIKES IN THE EDUCATION SECTOR
The education sector has been rocked by strike actions by workers unions over the failure of government to implement agreements signed with them. This saw the closure of polytechnics for three months before the suspension of the strike while the universities have been shut for two months as of the end of August. On Monday 9 September 2013, the College of Education Academic Staff Unions (COEASU) began a one-week warning strike. There is the possibility the ASUP may resumes its own strike as a result of the continuous failure of government to meet their demands.
All this creates the conditions for a united struggle of all unions in the education sector to save public education. The rise of strikes in the education sector underlies the widespread dissatisfaction with the capitalist ruling elite and the anger of the working masses, students and young people at a government they increasingly associate with failure on all fronts.
If correctly built as a popular struggle, the on-going strikes of ASUU and other unions can serve as a launch pad for a general struggle of the working masses and youth against the ruinous capitalist ruling elite. This is why the DSM continues to argue for a united struggle of all unions in the education sector accompanied by solidarity general strikes/mass protests by the NLC, TUC and the entire labour movement.
Unfortunately notwithstanding ASUU’s steadfastness in struggle compared to other unions, the leadership suffers from the same ideological limitation which the entire trade union bureaucracy suffers from. In the face of government’s blackmail that ASUU has being infiltrated by the opposition, the union is unwilling and cautious to call for mass struggle as an accompaniment of the strike.
Faced with this kind of situation, socialists must continue to campaign under the slogan of “ASUU must call a day of Nationwide mass protest to unite the struggle to save public education” and “For a 48-hour solidarity general strike/mass protest by the NLC and TUC”. Some on the “left” imagine these slogans to be unachievable now because of “the conditions in the labour movement”. Some even cringe at the thought of calling another mass protest because of the low turnout at previous demos preferring only symposium, meetings etc. But socialists cannot limit the possibility of struggle to what present conditions allows, we need to probe and test how far we can take a movement. It is necessary to continue to raise both slogans alongside with the slogan of “free and democratically managed public education” and constantly emboldening the unions to mobilise for mass actions even if all that is achieved is the raising of the political level of all those involved in the on-going strike to realise that every basic demands of the working masses, including education demands, can only be met by the capitalist ruling elite if confronted by a revolutionary and unyielding mass struggle.
The student movement is experiencing shock waves of the education workers strike. Splits have occurred in the top hierarchy of the national leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) while the SouthWest leadership (Zone D) has taken a position completely contrary to that of the national bureaucracy. The Zone D is solidarising with the ASUU strike while the national bureaucracy supports the government and is hostile to University lecturers. The point must be quickly made that in taking this commendable pro-struggle stand, the Zone D leadership is responding to pressure from below.
These splits open up opportunities for socialists to reactivate the campaign for the reclaim of NANS by students and its return to its democratic and fighting traditions. For this purpose, the tactics of discussing with and influencing the Zone D leadership to take initiatives and actions has to be complemented by independent efforts and public activities of activists to mobilise the rank and file of the studentry. Only these can begin to deepen the radicalisation of the student movement and build a movement from below that can really guarantee the reclaiming of NANS and rebuilding of national student movement.
This is why as the strike goes on, the DSM and the ERC argues the need for independent initiatives like organising of mass assemblies/congresses in the major cities as a way to draw into the struggle mass of students who have been forced to stay at home since the ASUU strike resumed. This kind of mass assemblies/congresses meeting regularly can become the democratic rank and file platforms to debate and put forward students independent demands as well as fashion out programs and actions like protests, demonstrations etc which the Zone D leadership and/or any other structure of the NANS leadership that is willing to struggle must implement to take the struggle forward.
THE CALL FOR A GENERAL STRIKE
For the general labour movement, the slogan for either a 24-hour or a 48-hour general strike is again very crucial now. One, to win the implementation of several agreements between labour and government/employers over pay and working conditions most especially on the N18,000 minimum wage, resist job losses and casualisation as well as to unite all the struggles of education unions, doctors and health workers, students and youths. The fact that capitalism cannot improve the conditions of the working class is all the more reason we should fight strongly to prevent the ruin of the class. Secondly, a general strike is crucial to raise the political level of the working class and launch an offensive against government neo-liberal economic policies of privatisation etc.
However a general strike is not just an action to allow workers let off steam. It is equally a challenge to the system and must be built and prepared for with the perspective of offering a working class economic and political alternative to capitalism. This is why the DSM continues to campaign and call on labour to form a mass working class political alternative to overthrow capitalism and enthrone a socialist alternative.
PROFERRING A SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE
As 2015 general elections inches closer, there are no visible signs that the trade union leaders are committed to reclaim the Labour Party, which they themselves formed, from elements who run the party ideologically and organizationally like just another capitalist party. Instead, their last murmuring in this respect is to go out and look for “Labour Friendly” candidates to come and run under the Labour Party’s platform!
Against this blind and ruinous strategy, members of the DSM since 2012 have decided to offer a Socialist alternative platform for the working masses in their daily struggles and especially during general elections. As we campaign for a mass working peoples’ party on socialist programme, the members of Democratic Socialist Moment (DSM) have, in the meantime, come up with the initiative of launching a party called Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) to contest elections where possible on socialist program and offer alternative to the working class people.
There must be no illusion in the newly registered All Progressives Congress (APC) which is a merger of ACN, ANPP and CPC. The legacy parties have shown that they are not fundamentally different from the PDP in term of program and conducts as shown where they are in power. Their record in office shows they are all anti-poor. For instance, the model of APC is the Fashola/ACN government in Lagos which has waged fierce war against the poor and working people in the state. For instance, the university education has been taken out of the reach of students of the poor and working class parents in the state while different sections of the working people like okada (commercial motorcycle) operators and petty traders have been ruthlessly deprived of their means of livelihood.
This is why the working people need a political party of their own to wrest power from the anti-poor politicians irrespective of political parties and replace the iniquitous private profit driven capitalist agenda with socialist program. This means that we need in power the government of the working people that would commit the resources of the society to the provision of functional education, health care, decent housing, decent jobs, infrastructure, etc. In order to mobilize adequate resources to achieve this, the commanding heights of the economy must be put under public ownership with democratic management and control of the working people, while the public officers who are subject to recall must receive the average salary of civil servants.
The situation facing Nigerians is becoming urgent. The country is changing rapidly. The latest, July 2013, population estimate is that Nigeria has 175.5 million inhabitants. Of these 76.8 million (43.8%) are under 14 years old. When you add the 33.6 million 15 to 24 year olds, 63.1% of Nigeria’s current population is under 25 years old. But capitalism cannot offer these youth a real future. If Labour does not offer young people a way out, they will seek other roads. Already no-one can doubt that one of the factors in Boko Haram’s growth is the desperate economic and social situation in the north-east.
Rank and file workers, the poor masses and especially the youths are urged to embrace the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and build it into a formidable political alternative that can win political power and ensure that Nigeria’s abundant human and natural resources are properly harnessed and developed to meet the needs of all as against the prevailing capitalist arrangement that perpetuate mass misery in the midst of stupendous abundance.
- DSM 21st Congress Holds Discussions Centred on Perspectives for Building a Working Class Political Alternative