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President Yar'adua's Era: A new dawn for the masses?


1 November 2007

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CHAPTER SEVEN

THE WAY FORWARD

As we in the DSM often argue, none of the basic problems confronting the working masses across Nigeria and in the Niger Delta region can be resolved on the basis of the prevailing unjust neo-colonial capitalist arrangement.

One, the self-serving profit interest of the main imperialist countries of the USA, Japan, Europe and now China, will never permit sufficient development of the national and human resources of the country to such a level that can guarantee the well being of the people. Two, the local capitalist elites would always implement policies to guarantee their own opulent and privileged existence rather than teaming up with the working masses to confront imperialism. Only a workers' and poor peasants' government, based on a socialist foundation could carry out the necessary social and political agenda that can effectively put an end to the rule of capitalist exploiters and political usurpers. And as we have always explained, this would require a complete rejection of the present capitalist approach of handing over major public assets and resources of nature to private capitalist individuals and corporations.

In order to provide and guarantee all the basic needs of life to all, the commanding heights of the economy, including finance and all natural resources, will have to be placed under public ownership with the democratic control and management of the working people themselves. This is necessary for two main purposes. One, all capitalist governments always express desire to provide the basic needs of life, but they always conclude that there are no enough resources to give decent accommodation, education, healthcare, job, etc, to all. Yet, it is in the same capitalist society that we find a few individuals and corporations that own personal wealth that could conveniently guarantee decent life for millions and billions of people. So, by putting the commanding heights and all major resources of the society under collective ownership, the society can therefore be put in a position where it can really and creatively utilize available human and natural resources to provide for all, instead of perpetuating an unjust situation where a few individuals keep a vast majority in perpetual misery and political bondage just for their own prestige and self-serving ends.

However, borrowing from the experience of the collapse of the economies of the former deformed workers states such as USSR, East Germany, etc, as well as the experience of publicly owned companies under past capitalist governments, it is absolutely necessary that workers democratically exercise maximum control and management over a publicly owned economy and companies. Otherwise, such publicly owned institutions will, sooner than later, be run aground through bureaucratic mismanagement and serial acts of corruption.

SOCIALIST LABOUR URGENTLY NEEDED

Suffice to stress, only a labour movement and leadership imbued with the principle and spirit of social transformation and socialist revolution could build the necessary working class political party, only which can have sufficient motive and support of the entire working masses to carry out the kind of revolutionary option outlined above. Of course, there is presently in existence a registered party called Labour Party. As a matter of fact, the party was floated by and has since been under the leadership of some trade unionists. Nevertheless, the party, both in outlook and conduct, is a far cry from what a truly independent working class political party should be. In the period before the 2007 election, Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past president of the NLC, whom most working class elements had expected to run on the platform of Labour Party with a view to begin to develop an independent political party of the masses, chose at the last minute, to run on the platform of the AC, one of the capitalist political parties. Paradoxically, some prominent capitalist politicians like Femi Pedro in Lagos State and Dr. Olusegun Mimiko in Ondo State, who could not secure the governorship tickets of the AC and the PDP in Lagos and in Ondo States respectively, were able to buy their way to contest on the platform of the Labour Party.

Meanwhile, most of the trade union activists within the Labour Party (whether of the left or right wing trend) are elements, who often personally and through the trade unions under their influence and control, argue that they are not opposed to privatization in principle. Their objection to privatization therefore is usually anchored on the "severance benefits" of workers being retrenched and a few times on the issue of who is buying the privatized assets or the manner in which public assets are being sold to private interest. Quite logically therefore, working class activists and elements could not hope to rely on the kind of existing Labour Party to struggle for a government that can effectively guarantee basic needs of life for the working class against the rapacious rule of the thieving capitalists. Towards this end, a conscious and energetic campaign to create a truly revolutionary working peoples party would be a major task before socialists and working class activists in the immediate and possibly long term period to come.

However, the virtual political and organizational degeneration of the post Gani Fawehinmi NCP national leadership in the rightwing, pro-capitalist direction – a phenomenon, which has practically and totally denied most conscious layers of the masses a political platform of expression - makes it imperative for socialists at this point in time to undertake a comprehensive political survey of the Labour Party phenomenon. From the conduct and speeches of most contemporary labour leaders, there is not yet a hint of the recognition on necessity of building and strengthening the Labour Party or an independent working peoples' party in general.

Nonetheless, in the tumultuous events and battles that lie ahead of the working masses as they strive to escape perpetual poverty and political bondage, the necessity/realization that the masses need their own party to fight the capitalist exploiters and political robbers may make the question of the Labour Party more relevant than it seems at the moment. For the overwhelming majority of Nigerians, "Labour" today means the trade unions, organisations that have enormous support and authority in the masses' eyes, as the recent general strikes have shown. The connection between "labour" - trade unions- gives the Labour Party potential that it may be able to build upon. Even labour leaders that presently appear indifferent to this issue may find themselves pulled by event to strive to build a kind of Labour Party, although in which way and for how long is open to question.