Nigerian Political Crisis: Can Electoral Reform come to rescue?

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Trotsky once wrote, the capitalist regimes toboggan to disaster with their eyes closed. This statement perfectly describes the political situation in Nigeria. As we have stated several times before, the objective conditions require to maintain ongoing bourgeois democracy has completely eroded few years ago; it has become a mere empty shell, a corpse waiting to be buried. It is an apparatus that is incapable of living and yet unwilling to die. So as to artificially extend its lifespan beyond its limit, the present regime has been clinging on anything on its way. The recent casualty of this clinging game is electoral reforms.

With electoral reform demand, the leadership of Nigerian trade unions had finally found a common ground upon which they can ally with the liberal bourgeois, the imperialists and consequently further strengthen their collaborationist policies. Electoral reform has been pushed to the forefront of all other more important issues. It has afforded the Labour leadership to abandon temporarily the struggle for better wages for workers, for struggle against deregulation of oil sectors and other struggle for better conditions for working people. In full alliance with US, UK etc and a section of Nigerian Bourgeoisies, the leadership of Nigerian trade unions is presently asserting that all the 50 years suffering of Nigerian masses under the domination of Nigerian ruling class can only be addressed by the miracle of sound electoral reforms. How much fairness and justice can our electoral system, that is based on the present social economic systems being managed by inept, inefficient and mafia ruling class like ours guarantee?

Can Nigeria social economic arrangement guarantee fair electoral systems?

Soludo(Former CBN Governor) once said in Governor’s address of 2008: “Less than 20% of African households own bank accounts or have access to financial services. Nigeria has a highly unequal income distribution profile: about 8% of those that have access to financial services own about 90% of the available deposits.”

In a country with over 70% of the population living below poverty line and in 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the Nigerian health system in 187th place out of 191 countries evaluated. According to UNDP, life expectancy in Nigeria has declined to 43 years (2006) from 47 in 1990.  In contrast, life expectancy in Malaysia, which attained nationhood at the same time as Nigeria, has now reached 70 years. Over 50,000 Nigerian women die from childbirth every year (equivalent to a plane carrying 140 people crashing every single day). Nigeria accounts for 10% of the world’s maternal deaths in childbirth whereas the country represents 2% of the world’s population. One in five Nigerian children dies before his/her 5th birthday.  About a million Nigerian children die of preventable causes every year. So, how much democratic right can this arrangement grant ordinary people? Ever diminishing minority who has cornered an exorbitant amount of our collective wealth can only maintain itself through imposition. Anybody hoping for this minority to just willingly and cheaply let-go of their power and privileges is just naïve and feeble minded. If this minority plays with any iota of democratic right for the masses, they understand correctly that within a twinkle of an eye, they will be defeated and all their means of livelihood collapsed along with their privileges. The last thing they will allow is a free, fair and conclusive electoral process. The unfolding event going on in Venezuela hunts them like ghost.

What needs to be done?

Nigerian ruling class is presently in a very terrible and weak position and can promise anything to the masses so as to buy more time to prepare for a more vicious attack against Nigerian masses. While promising heaven and earth, Nigerian ruling class keeps instructing the military to keep a watchful eyes on the situation and should not miss any available opportunity to strike and forcefully continue with all the ongoing anti-people policies. An extremely corrupt, inept and absolutely inefficient Nigerian ruling class has lost the entire social base, it is presently incapable of freely requesting a renew mandate from Nigerian masses. What is presently sustaining them now in Government is the compromising action of reformist leadership of Nigerian main trade union centers. This explains why 500 Million naira bribe given to the NLC and TUC leadership by the Government is very timely and necessary. It is payment for the job well done.

The leadership of the main trade union centers in Nigeria deliberately turns their back to the party (Labour Party) that they themselves formed and are always prepared to enter into any form of alliance with any section of Nigerian ruling class just to keep their own career moving. Had it been that Nigerian working class is lucky enough to have a more responsible and courageous leadership at this material point in time, with a very little effort, Nigerian workers would have cheaply pushed away this parasitic and thieving Nigerian ruling class and establish Workers Government. Is not enough to continue crying over spill water; the urgent task before the Nigerian working class is to double the pressure on their leadership to reclaim the Labour Party and sharpen it up with a socialist program, in the interest of Nigerian masses. Of what essence is a perfect and ideal electoral system, when Nigerian workers do not have their own political party to contest? Which of the existing main parties can genuinely mobilize the mass majority of Nigerians to come out en-masse to vote? Which of them is capable of defending people’s vote if eventually voted and rig out? We need to continuously ask ourselves, which of them if in Government worth our trouble? All main parties have the same program and policies, they will all continue with drastic cut in social spending; health facilities will keep declining, public education will be worsening, poverty will increase because they all support deregulation, privatization and wage cut and wage freezing.

Do we need to be reminded, that when over 10,000 bank workers were sacked, all parliamentarians unanimously, irrespective of party affiliations, voted in support of this?  They all voted for deregulations, for cut in spending on education and health and most unfortunately, they are all uniformly corrupt, inept and mafia-like in their action and outlook. The solution to the problem has obviously gone far beyond mere electoral reforms; we need a radical break from the past and existing electoral systems that places a tiny minority over the head of overwhelming majority. The first pre-condition towards this is the political party of our own under a courageous leadership resting on the shoulder of Nigerian working class.