Events have moved quickly since the leaders of Nigeria’s largest trade union federation, the Nigerian Labour Congress decided on July 12 to support the outgoing NLC President, Adams Oshiomhole, if he decided to stand in the presidential, parliamentary or state elections that are due to be held next year.
However Adams Oshiomhole rejected calls from amongst others Gani Fawehinmi, the founder of the National Conscience Party (NCP) and the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM, the CWI in Nigeria), to stand for the presidency. Instead Oshiomhole stated that he wanted to stand for the governorship of Edo, his home state, on the platform of the NLC sponsored Labour Party.
But in the last few days Oshiomhole has stated that he wants to stand in Edo as the joint candidate of the Labour Party and the second largest capitalist party, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Indeed he went further to say that he wants the Labour Party and ANPP to merge in Edo State.
This is a major blow against those within the labour movement who have been arguing for an independent working peoples’ alternative to be presented in the 2007 elections.
Simultaneously the new national leadership of the NCP have begun an attempt to purge socialists and radicals from the party, starting with the expulsion of Segun Sango, the chair of the NCP in Lagos State and also General Secretary of the DSM.
This move is clearly linked with an attempt to get the NCP to join in alliances with bourgeois parties. The day after Segun Sango was expelled the NCP leaders organised a public meeting whose main speak was the former military ruler Buhari, who also was the ANPP’s candidate in the 2003 presidential election. It is quite possible that the NCP national leaders want to join Oshiomhole in an alliance with the ANPP.
More information on all these developments can be read on the DSM’s own website, www.socialistnigeria.org.
Labour leader Oshiomhole running on joint ticket of capitalist ANPP and Labour Party
We in the Democratic Socialist Movement read with deepest consternation and high sense of disappointment, the reports in the “Vanguard” of Wednesday August 9, 2006 and the “Guardian” of Thursday August 10, 2006 to the effect that the NLC President, Adams Oshiomhole, will be running for the Edo State Governorship seat under the joint ticket of the ANPP and the Labour Party, and is seriously considering a full merger between these parties at least in Edo state.
We deeply regret that Oshiomhole is reported as rejecting the call of Gani Fawehinmi, who amongst others like the DSM, had called on him to run for the presidency as a labour candidate.
We believe that, if Oshiomhole links up with a party like the ANPP, such a step would betray the interests of the millions of ordinary working Nigerians who are looking for a real alternative to all the competing rotten factions of the ruling elite.
Only a few days ago, Oshiomhole told the media that he has finally decided to pursue his political aspirations through the platform of the Labour Party. In “The Guardian” of July 27, 2006, Oshiomhole was reported thus: “It would not be nice to be seen hobnobbing with the dark forces that works against the country’s development, hence the decision to actualise his ambition via the Labour Party.” He was particularly quoted as saying that: “We need a complete break from the past”. In the “ThisDay” of July 13, 2006, Oshiomhole was also quoted thus: “Governance should be about people, it has been my guiding principle. Labour has been my primary constituency, I will not fail it.”
At the end of the NLC NEC meeting of July 12, 2006, Abdulwaheed Omar, the NLC Deputy President, told the world that the Labour Movement will no longer watch by the side line, while politicians continue to betray the hope and aspirations of ordinary Nigerians. He further informed that the NEC has given go ahead to Adams Oshiomhole to run for presidency or any other elective post after his tenure as NLC President expires early next year. Omar said that the NEC decision was based on the fact that none of the contestants that have declared interest in the number one job could boast of having the requisite experience and vision more than Oshiomhole.
Therefore, from the above premises, Oshiomhole’s declaration to run for the Edo governorship seat on the joint ticket of the ANPP and Labour Party is an incurable self-contradiction and a betrayal of hopes and aspirations of all those sections of the working masses genuinely seeking “a complete break from the past”. We say without any fear of contradiction that the ANPP nationally, and in Edo State in particular, represents the odious past and present, which has to be overcome if the masses needs are to be genuinely guaranteed. Both in practice and theory the ANPP politicians in the states where they govern and nationally are just as corrupt and anti-poor as are the PDP governments across the country.
The ANPP totally subscribes to the prevailing anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist policies being implemented by the PDP central government headed by President Olusegun Obasanjo. Precisely for this reason, the ANPP has been unable to develop a mass-base in the states where they govern, not to talk of being able to enthuse the vast majority of the masses of others states that have been revolting against Obasanjo’s anti-poor policies in the past seven years.
In the year 2003 election, the Lagos State NCP (despite the fact that the party was only registered in December 2002 and despite the larger than life images of many ANPP leaders nationally and in Lagos State) came third in most of the seats contested and in particular, defeated all the ANPP candidates severally and collectively in the said election. We therefore state that a frontal conscious pro-masses collaboration between say the NCP nationally and Edo State in particular, will win more support and votes of the masses, much more than a collaboration with the ‘second eleven’ of the ruinous self-serving capitalist elements who owned and naturally dominate the ANPP.
On the basis of a short sighted calculation, it is very tempting to believe that the best way to defeat the current highly corrupt and anti-poor PDP government at the central and state level, is for all the main opposition parties, ANPP, AD, APGA, ACD, etc to come together under one political platform/umbrella or to present joint candidates across the country. Mathematically, this may look like an appealing equation, but in reality, most of these so-called opposition parties are not seen in their own respective sphere of influence as anything inspiring to preserve. Therefore, their plurality and spread carry little or no political weight because they cannot get or expect to get spontaneous and sincere support from the working masses.
Thus, as things stand today, the 2007 general elections would, more like the preceding 2003 elections, be largely determined by those in control of greater financial, state’s and electoral apparatus of manipulations and riggings. Suffice to stress, the chances of the coalition built around the ‘second eleven’ of the ruling class to emerge victorious in this kind of farcical exercise, is almost an impossibility. Even in the unlikely event that such a coalition wins centrally or in some states, its representatives will only more or less continue to implement and preserve the policies being implemented presently. According to the newspaper reports, one of the reasons why Oshiomhole opted for a joint ticket of the ANPP and Labour Party in Edo State is said to be because he believes that Labour Party is relatively weaker than the ANPP in the state.
For us, this is a fallacious conclusion and, in fact, is merely an excuse to form a rotten alliance. The mass struggles against the incessant fuel hike and other anti-poor policies of the Obasanjo government has attracted huge enthusiastic support of the ordinary masses in Edo State as well as in many other states of the country. In fact, given its relatively explosive social crisis, reflected in high wave of violent crimes, prostitution, frauds, etc, an overtly working class pro-masses electoral and struggle campaign, anchored on the strategy of using societal collective resources to cater for the needs of all, as opposed to the present capitalist arrangement where only a few wallow in stupendous opulence on the basis of mass poverty, can overnight transform the presently ‘weak’ Labour Party into a mighty political force which can easily defeat the combination of PDP, ANPP and all other oppressors parties in Edo State.
But even assuming, without conceding, that this outlined perspective is not realistic in the immediate sense and that the ANPP is stronger than Labour Party in Edo State, then this means that, even if Adams Oshiomhole is chosen to fly the joint governorship flag of ANPP and Labour Party in Edo State, he will willy-nilly be forced to carry out the ANPP anti-poor policies because such victory would have been predicated largely on the victory of the corrupt ANPP politicians in the state. This to stress, would be nothing but a return to square one, a huge, set back for the Edo State masses in particular and that of Nigeria as a whole, who are genuinely struggling to have “a complete break from the past.”
For us in the DSM it is essential that all serious labour and radical activists reject the current attempts by leaders of different capitalist parties to entrap them in various coalitions or alliances vying to compete in the 2007 elections. Already, we have seen the recent attempts by the current NCP national leadership to emasculate that party by purging socialists and radicals from its ranks in order to open the way to rotten coalitions. Now Adams Oshiomhole is in danger of being trapped within capitalist, pro-rich politics. There is the great danger if the NCP is emasculated and the Labour Party swallowed up by the ANPP (or any other party). In such a situation then, there may be no anti-neoliberal, let alone socialist, candidates in next year’s elections, leaving working people with no real alternative to the present rotten system.
All the self-contradictions, the futile and counter-productive approach and perspective of deals with rotten politicians can be avoided if our often stated suggestion of the immediate convocation of a political conference of the Labour Party, NLC, TUC, CFTU, LASCO, NCP, UAD, DSM, DA, etc to chart out a working people’s political agenda for the 2007 general elections. For us, the issue of what post a particular labour or progressive aspirant should run for should be democratically decided within the framework of a mass working peoples’ political platform and not something to be left to individual’s discretion. We note that Adams Oshiomhole, because of his central role in the 7 general strikes and mass protests that have taken place against the anti-poor policies of the government in the past 7 years, enjoys a considerable goodwill amongst the generality of the people across the country. Nonetheless, we strongly hold that the decision to run for presidency or the Edo State governorship, if it is actually anchored on the premises of bettering the lots of the working masses, should not be left to Adams alone if he wants to run as a candidate of labour and the poor working masses.
First of all, a new mass working peoples party embracing Labour Party and all pro-labour allies and parties is what ought to be immediately and consciously built and on the premise that “we need a complete break from the past.” It is only when this is done that the question of who goes for Governorship, Senate, House of Reps, House of Assembly and Presidency can be properly discussed, beneficially from the point of view of the ordinary working masses.
The other approach should be pointedly underlined for what it is: an individualistic and opportunistic approach through which individuals using the masses’ goodwill can get themselves incorporated within the ruinous elites. We in the DSM totally reject this approach. Instead, we advocate that Oshiomhole and the other Labour/Labour Forces and platforms should totally reject any idea of deals with parties like the ANPP, AD, PDP or ACD. Instead they should immediately and consciously begin to build a genuine pan Nigeria mass political platform primarily and unapologetically committed to the defence of the masses’ interest. This is the only realistic way to fill the vacuum which currently exists amongst the masses who understandably and justifiably feel politically unrepresentative by all layers of the capitalist class including those in the ANPP, AD and the budding ACD.