Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM


Neither Obaseki nor Ize-Iyamu

In an almost breath-taking public display of cynical opportunism the main protagonists in the Edo state governorship election that is billed for September 19, 2020, are the same as last time only now they have swapped parties. Unlike what obtained in the 2016 governorship election, Godwin Obaseki, the current governor, elected on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC), is today the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the coming election, having resigned his membership of his former party. Conversely, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, having also resigned his membership of his former party the PDP, whose candidate he was in 2016, is now to fly the flag of the APC, his new party.

By Eko John Nicholas

This is nothing short of an epic foretelling of the absence of the beautiful ones unborn! Pastor Ize-Iyamu had resigned his membership of the PDP after he failed to win the governorship election in 2016. This was due to the dwindling fortunes of the party in the state and nationally, and to open the way for him to remain relevant in politics so as to attract patronage from the state government. He consequently warmed his ways into Adams Oshiomhole’s heart, the now former national chairman of the APC and former governor, and de facto godfather of Godwin Obaseki and Edo state politics, after he noticed cracks in the Oshiomhole-Obaseki relationship, which subsequently went frosty. He has now been rewarded with the party’s ticket, for his unprincipled, slavish and flighty character! This notwithstanding the fact that this same Pastor Ize-Iyamu was taunted and revealed as “a forger, cultist and an unreliable human being, who the resources and fate of the good people of Edo state should never be entrusted to his care” – these were the words of Adams Oshiomhole speaking against Pastor Ize-Iyamu, when he was the governor, and was hell bent on imposing Godwin Obaseki, then the apple of his eyes!

An interesting twist to the tale of Edo state elections is how Adams Oshiomhole, a former labour leader and someone who ran for governor in 2007 on the pledge to weed out godfathers in Edo State politics, now turned round to turn the table against governor Godwin Obaseki, after a long battle and irreconcilable acrimony over Oshiomhole’s interest to control the State House of Assembly. This was after Obaseki had been allegedly found to present ‘defective’ documents for verifications by the party! Ironically, these same defective documents were the one presented to INEC and the APC in the last election that made him governor (of course he was an obedient servant then)! But now that the Oshiomhole-Obaseki marriage has gone sour, the documents are defective! This was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Obaseki is a typical bourgeois politician. In a jiffy found this opportunistic, self-seeking and fraudulent governor found his way to PDP, who were waiting with open arms to receive him despite having described his administration as a failure just a few months earlier and called him an academic certificate forger in 2016! And Obaseki was immediately compensated with the party’s ticket after a rather crude horse-trading which saw PDP’s gubernatorial aspirants, who had been nursing their own ambitions for long, agreeing to withdraw from the primary to give Obasaki a smooth sail. Obviously this only happened after the previous aspirants have been handsomely rewarded or promised juicy compensation after the elections!

Meanwhile INEC, with tongue in cheek mouthing constitutionalism and electoral laws has as always turned blind eyes to all these anomalies, since it concerns the capitalist ruling class parties: their paymasters! The INEC only beamed its searchlight on a working and poor people’s party like the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) that has not infringed on any  laws, save for being bold to pose workers’ alternatives with socialist programme against the current capitalist rots in the society. For this the party is being punished with deregistration using the instruments of pliable courts, under the guise of weeding the electoral space of unwieldy political parties who did not live up to expectations in the highly monetized and manipulated 2019 general elections. This in actual fact, is a pretence by INEC and the capitalist ruling class to deny the working and poor people’s quest for alternative political representation to the ruling capitalist parties i.e. PDP, APC, APGA etc., having failed to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the masses. All these have again exposed the lie and lies of capitalist elections in the country!

Instructively, the above narratives alongside the political crisis in the ruling party cannot be divorced from the politics and intra-class competition and struggles leading to the 2023 general elections, and the region and individuals that will eventually occupy the presidency. The current scheming in Edo state; the suspension of the Adams Oshiomhole as the APC chairman; the recognition of the Victor Giadom-led minority National Working Committee (NWC) as against the majority led by the late former governor of Oyo state Abiola Ajumobi by the president Buhari; followed by the subsequent dissolution of the NWC; and the setting up of a caretaker committee are all pointers to the increasingly brewing intra party crisis in the APC, as these self-seeking capitalist politicians gear up for a brutal struggle towards capturing the presidency come 2023!

All these goings on are centred around the rumoured ambitions of certain individuals across the geo-political regions, who from their antecedents, are only interested in self-enrichment and the trappings of the office of the president, as against the needs of the suffering working and poor people, as we have already had it with successive individual occupants regardless of the political parties. These capitalist politicians if not checked by the working masses with alternative working class political party, would stop at nothing in ensuring that they actualize their ambitions, even if it means playing the ethnic and religious card as they have done in the past, with the attendant avoidable crisis and loss of lives and properties of the vulnerable and unsecured working and poor masses including the youths.

To avoid the repeat of these ugly scenarios as painted above, going by the happenings in Edo state, workers, trade union activists and socialists must mount pressure on the three labour centres, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), United Labour Congress (ULC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to begin to pose a mass working class political alternative. This would mean the labour movement forming and building a mass workers’ political party as an alternative with a socialist programme, to wrest power from these anti-poor capitalist establishment and their political backers. This kind of workers’ party, when in government would nationalise the main sectors of the economy (i.e. oil and gas, finance, industries, agriculture etc.) under democratic workers control and management by the working people with a view to freeing up resources to fund the battered and near-collapsed social sectors, in order to meet the needs of the majority as against the profit of and self-seeking enrichment of a rich few. Outside government such a party will consistently identify with daily struggles of the working people and youth and also mobilise them against all capitalist attacks.

The fact is that whoever wins the September 19 gubernatorial election between the APC and PDP, the long suffering Edo people would be worse off especially in the face of the ongoing global crisis of capitalism. As any of the anti-poor parties that wins would implement cuts in social spending including workers’ salaries, and contract inflation would be rampant, without state funded public works department to execute projects, and siphoning monies through patronage by appointment of unproductive political aides. A pointer to what to expect is the alleged spending of N45.5 million to buy expression of interest forms (EIF ) by governor Godwin Obaseki from two parties, while the state is being ravaged by Covid-19, without enough safety kits and isolation centres, left alone a well-equipped hospital publicly funded! It is only the readiness of the workers, youth and poor masses of Edo State to regularly mobilise for mass struggles to defend their rights that can begin to guarantee their interests under any government formed by Obaseki/PDP or Ize-Iyamu/APC. But nothing will fundamentally change for the better if capitalism is not overthrown.

This is why it is of utmost importance that trade unions and mass organisations commence a process of calling for a mass meeting of socialist, activists, civil society organizations,  workers, farmers etc., to discuss the formation of a workers’ and poor masses political party on a socialist program. Where this is not immediately feasible, the labour movement can consider the adoption of the SPN as an alternative platform to contest for power come 2023. Only in this direction can the working and poor people begin to hope for better living conditions in Nigeria.