Edo Governorship Election and the crisis of working class alternative

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Editorial Statement, Workers’ Alternative, Nigeria

The landslide victory of Comrade Adams Oshiomole [the former leader of the Nigerian Labour Congress] in the Edo State Governorship election on Saturday, 14th July 2012 marks a major watershed in the history of politics in Nigeria.

This was not only because it was contested by Adams,  winner for two consecutive years of the man-of-the-year award during the long drawn out battle of the Nigerian workers against the Obasanjo administration’s series of attacks on the Nigerian masses; not only because it was a landslide victory in which Oshiomhole received over 75%(477,478 of 630,067) of the votes to beat the ruling conservative party PDP that got only 22.8%(144,235), despite a massive deployment of all their strength and wealth; but also because it exposed the uselessness and ineffectiveness of political “Godfatherism” [meaning that political God fathers is all you need to win elections] once the masses are involved in the equation.

This election victory was celebrated not only in Edo, but curiously enough, the jubilation spread to all corners of Nigeria. However, it is also true that this election has introduced more confusion into the project of building a mass based working class political alternative. This confusion is compounded by the actions of the trade union leadership who lined up workers behind the ACN [Action Congress of Nigeria] in Edo while at the same time backing the Labour Party in Ondo. It has served to hide the real class collaborationist policies of the trade union leadership, with the working class merely used as pawns in this battle. The fact remains that the ACN is a bourgeois party which is exploiting the authority of Comrade Adams to push forward their own anti-worker agenda.

If the energy and enthusiasm expended in this election had been utilized to seriously back the Party of Labour, it would have marked a decisive turning point in the fortunes of this organization. After-all, the Nigerian Labour Congress under Oshiomole formed, hosted and financed the Labour Party, only to later abandon it to the corrupt and careerist politicians who have been using it for their own selfish ends.

We must state it clearly: this overwhelming support enjoyed by Comrade Oshiomole was not because of, but in spite of the inglorious role he played in the January 9th subsidy protest. It was also not due to his membership of the ACN but rather in spite of it. The thunderous support he received was a result of the desperation of the masses seeking an alternative to the hellish condition that they currently are in, and the alternative as represented by the PDP was unimaginable. Thirteen years of so-called bourgeois democracy have pushed the overwhelming majority of Nigerians into unbearable conditions.

The Nigerian masses across the whole country are beginning to fight back because they are now at a stage they can no longer tolerate further deterioration of their living conditions. What is most striking is that it was not only the people of Edo who showed that they are desperately seeking a radical change in their situation, but also the masses in far away Kano, Maiduguri, Abia and nearer Oyo are also at breaking point. That explains why they also followed the election in Edo with keen interest and were even jubilant when the result was announced.

However, the ACN that Comrade Adams stood for does not inspire them in their own states because it is a party that has nothing to do with the wishes and aspirations of the working class and ordinary masses. The working class in particular, and the masses in general, would have been saved this agony of confusion if there existed a party of their own, a party that embeds in its manifesto the programme of free and qualitative education at all levels; that fights for a living minimum-wage for the workers and assures people decent work to genuinely tackle the plight of unemployment, that is, a mass party of labour for labour and that is managed by labour.

The abandonment of the party of the working class on the part of Comrade Adams [the Nigerian Labour Party that he himself had contributed to founding] in order to embrace a party like the ACN, a party of an alien, anti masses and enemy class, represented a setback, but this setback can only be temporary, because an idea whose time has come can never be killed.

The outcome of last Saturday’s election glaringly confirms the fact that the Nigerian working masses and poor are no longer satisfied with passivity. They are moving gradually into the arena of politics and experience will inevitably teach them that Comrade Adams’ victory in Edo State is not enough, and that there will be no respite until a genuine independent party of the working class is built, a party for the working class and controlled by the working class.

That is why Comrade Adams should now put his whole weight behind the building up of the Labour Party as a genuine, mass based party of the working class with the full backing of the NLC leadership. Comrade Adams won on Saturday not because he stood for the ACN. He won because the masses perceive him as the leader of Labour. Therefore he should break with the ACN and use his immense authority to help build a genuine party of the working class. The victory in Edo State can be repeated across the country on condition that Labour cleanses itself of the rotten bourgeois elements within it, stands independently of all the parties of the Nigerian bourgeois and presents a clear fighting programme in defence of the interests of the Nigerian working people. This can only be a socialist programme, based on taking over the wealth of the country and using it to the benefit of those who actually produce it, the workers themselves.