NLC’s CALL FOR VOTES FOR PETER OBI
*No pro-capitalist politicians can be trusted to defend and protect the interest of workers, youths and the poor
*Only a government formed by workers and the poor run on the basis of socialist programmes can rescue Nigeria state and the economy
The attention of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) has been drawn to an open call on the Nigeria workers by Mr. Ayuba Wabba, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to come out and vote en-masse for Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party during the 2023 general election.
We understand that Mr. Peter Obi has attracted support from a growing number of Nigerians some of whom are genuinely looking for an alternative outside the leading establishment parties like APC and PDP.
Notwithstanding, we hold that as a member of the capitalist class who just left the PDP in May, 2022, because of the fear that he would not get the party’s ticket, Obi does not automatically deserve the support of the organized labour simply because he is the candidate of Labour Party especially when there is no proof that he would meet the aspiration and yearning of the Nigerian workers.
For instance, as at present, there is no evidence that he has committed himself to the implementation of the NLC’s “Charter of Demands” which, though limited in addressing issues of concern to workers, was presented by the NLC as the first condition to support any candidate. In any case, we would like to stress that, even if he adopts the “workers charter of demands”, there is no guarantee that he would implement it, if elected given some of his anti-worker actions while as a governor of Anambra State and his pro-capitalist philosophy and character.
It will be recalled that public hospitals under a regime presided over by Mr Peter Obi were shut down for thirteen months due to his stubborn refusal to meet the demands of the striking doctors (Vanguard February 28, 2012). It is for the same reason that the state university was closed down for more than six months during which some lecturers were arbitrarily sacked for being part of a legitimate strike declared by their union (Vanguard January 18, 2011).
Also, tens of workers of the Anambra state civil service suffered a lot of intimidation and victimization including demotion and threat of being sacked under the Obi-led government owing to their participation in the 2011 strike embarked upon by the state workers to demand the implementation of the legal minimum wage. Several appointments of non-indigenes civil servants in the state were reviewed during this period with an embargo placed on employment in the state services (Guardian September 20, 2011). In the same vein, workers in the state water corporation had to secure a court order to force Obi’s successor, Obiano, to pay salaries and entitlements they were denied by eight years of the Obi-led government (Vanguard July 18, 2014).
It is in the light of this kind of anti-worker disposition and orientation of Mr. Peter Obi that we conclude that he cannot be unconditionally trusted for an adequate defense and protection of the interest of the working people.
Despite Mr. Peter Obi’s alleged antecedent of frugal management of public resources, there is no fundamental difference between him and the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar respectively, in terms of policies and programmes.
They all subscribe to the same neo-liberal capitalist philosophy and program which largely accounts for the monumental failure of both PDP and APC governments since the return to civil rule in 1999 and responsible for the deepening economic crises in the country at the present time despite the colossal human and material resources of the country.
Notwithstanding, a layer of change-seeking people, including the youth, continue to support Peter Obi because they think he is different when compared to the old, fantastically corrupt and pro-establishment figures like Tinubu and Atiku. Also, some see a vote for Peter Obi as an opportunity to end the two-party dictatorship of the PDP and APC which have for the past 23 years ruined the country.
While sympathizing with all those who genuinely see a vote for Peter Obi as a shortcut to begin to reclaim Nigeria, the SPN warns that only a government prepared to abolish all anti-poor policies of privatization, deregulation etc. and implement a programme of Socialist reconstruction can begin to transform Nigeria. In view of Peter Obi’s pro-capitalist philosophy and programme which he has not renounced up till now, we have a duty to warn that any illusions that he can change Nigeria will soon collapse just as the illusion in Buhari in 2015 came to nothing.
So, if the organised labour is genuinely interested in building a political alternative, they must not entrench illusions in Obi or any capitalist politician. Rather, they should explain to the change seeking people why only consistent mass struggle can win any concession under any government formed by either Obi, Tinubu or Atiku, and thus begin to mobilise workers to join and rebuild the Labour Party as a fighting and democratic party on a working people programme against the prevailing capitalist agenda of APC, PDP and the current LP.
However, we note that there is a problem with the current labour leaders who are similarly pro-capitalist. This explains why many of them are candidates or supporters of APC or PDP. Indeed, the same NLC leadership which has called on workers to support LP candidate are themselves planning to organise mega rallies for APC governorship candidates in Kebbi and Niger states.
Therefore, we call on radical trade union activists with the support of pro-labour and left activists to begin the agitation and campaign within trade unions and wider labour movement from now and beyond 2023 election for reclaiming of LP and rebuilding it on a socialist programme or for formation of a new mass working people’s party.
It is only a government formed through this kind of pro working people political party run on the basis of socialist policies including public ownership of the commanding heights under the control of working people that can guarantee judicious use and management of the wealth and resources of the society to meet and satisfy the needs of all.
Acting National Chairperson
E-mail: [email protected]