The decision of the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Action Forum (JAF), to embark on a 2-day mass action on May 28 and 29 against the farce called the 2007 general elections and anti-poor, neo-liberal programme of the government is a very good development. It offers an opportunity to advance the masses’ struggle for emancipation from perpetual political oppression and economic exploitation. Also welcome is the demand of the National Executive Council of the NLC for 15% pay rise for federal government workers across board.
The DSM strongly urges workers, youths, pro-masses organizations and individuals to give absolute political and practical support to this LASCO and NLC decision. But, at the same time, this mass action must be the beginning of a serious struggle against the ruling elite, not a safety valve for the masses’ anger.
For us in the DSM, the main focus of the trade unions, pro-masses’ organizations and genuine socialists should now be fully mobilized towards the success of the proposed 2-day mass action. We should not be under any illusion. The proposed 2-day mass action, if properly prepared, would represent a serious threat to the continuous rule and prestige of the thieving capitalist elements in power. Going by the tradition of the primitive bestiality of Nigeria’s ruling elite, no effort will be spared to ensure the defeat/failure of the proposed mass action.
To ensure a resounding success of the proposed mass action, the DSM proposes the immediate formation of action committees in all work places, neighbourhood and communities across the country. Of course, anyone averagely conversant with the history of the labour movement in the past 6 years, will not, for a second, doubt the capacity of the LASCO and NLC to embark on a successful mass action. However, the stakes today are higher. There is therefore, the need to prioritise the creation of grassroot structures and communication lines through which the working masses can organize the protest, debate the issues we face and widely circulate the necessary information on organization and strategies needed for a successful struggle beyond what the public media will do or not do.
Nigeria’s election in perspective
Virtually, all the elections in the post-independence era have always been highly and massively manipulated by the powers that be. However, the so-called 2007 general elections fell very below even Nigeria’s past unenviable electoral records. Therefore, the LASCO and NLC decision to embark on a 2-day mass action against the latest electoral robbery perpetrated by the PDP government can constitute a crushing blow to the reactionary calculation of the thieving capitalist class that the masses may complain about their being robbed electorally but would never contemplate taking concrete action to fight the robbery. Equally too, the NLC decision in this respect represents a crushing refutation of the sectarian idea of those urging the masses not to battle for their democratic rights and fight the farce called 2007 general elections ostensibly because they were strictly affairs between different sections of the ruling class.
The point must be stressed: the electoral robbery perpetrated by the ruling parties in the name of 2007 general elections is so sickening because the overwhelming majority of Nigerians have carried out seven general strikes/mass protests between 2000 and 2005 against the very same elements that have returned themselves and their surrogates to power. When President Obasanjo wanted to extend the tenure of his administration beyond May 29, 2007, as stipulated by the 1999 military imposed constitution, over 80% of Nigerians in all the country’s six geo-political zones totally opposed the plot.
How to fight and what to fight for
Therefore, there can be no iota of doubt that if LASCO (i.e. the NLC, TUC and JAF) provide a determined leadership, the masses will rise to their clarion calls more so when those claiming "victories" in the 2007 general elections are nothing but plain looters and usurpers. However, in order to ensure all round enthusiastic and sustained support for the proposed 2-day mass action, the DSM urges LASCO to come forward with clear, comprehensive economic and political slogans primarily directed to better the lots of the masses without any slightest bias to any section of the ruling class in power or opposition. In this respect, we demand total cancellation, across the country, of the farce called 2007 general elections.
We call for fresh elections but not on the basis of the military imposed 1999 constitution. Under the 1999 constitution, the composition of the electoral body at the national and state levels is left to the whims and caprices of those in power at all levels. Thus, even if the current INEC is dissolved, those to replace it will be composed in the same partisan and undemocratic manner. To avoid this dead-end scenario, we call for the immediate convocation of a truly democratic Sovereign National Conference (SNC) which, upon its election, will assume full political power which will be exercised, among other things, to produce a truly democratic and popularly endorsed constitution, which will form the basis of any fresh elections.
Instantly, this raises the question of which government or body will conduct the election to the SNC itself. In this respect, we advocate the formation of a Provisional Revolutionary Government made up of elected representatives of workers, technocrats, poor peasants and youths to form government at national and state levels pending the election of an SNC. Of course, it must be consciously recognized from the beginning that the outlined perspective can only be actualized in a revolutionary and or semi-revolutionary situation. But so also is the demand for a handpicked "Interim National Government" (ING). Unless faced with a serious mass revolt threatening its hold on power, the ruling class will never take serious the demand by sections of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie for the formation of an ING as a way out of the crisis of legitimacy arising from the incurably flawed 2007 general elections.
We consequently urge the working masses to totally reject the call for any government, interim or otherwise, that would be based on handpicked elements or those elected in the rigged 2003 elections. Our proposal is more democratic. The workers, technocrats, poor peasants and youth formations are there already. All we ask is that they use their own recognized structures, along with action committees, to elect among themselves those who will provisionally run the affairs of the country. Such bodies should organize truly democratic elections to a national body, i.e. a SNC, dominated by the ordinary working masses in all fields of life.
This is the only approach that will convince the vast majority of Nigerians that the proposed mass action is not being waged to favour one section of the thieving ruling class against the other. Such an approach would rally all those that are totally frustrated with the corrupt and undemocratic rule of all the ruling parties, not just the PDP. We are not fighting to replace the PDP with the ANPP or AC. Labour leaders like Oshiomhole must break with outfits like the AC if they want to genuinely participate alongside the working masses in this struggle.
No to poverty wages
The demand for 15% pay rise is not only just, it is in fact, long overdue. The DSM therefore calls on the NLC, TUC and JAF to fight that the implementation of this demand be made applicable to all layers of workers, both in public and private sectors across the country and not just for federal civil servants as stated in the notice of "7-day ultimatum" given to the federal government by the NLC on May 14, 2007. Specifically, we urge LASCO to insist that no single retrenchment be carried out under the guise of inability to get enough resources to implement this demand. Labour should frontally stress the fact that there are enough funds being generated by government to pay living wage to all Nigerians and not just 15% pay rise of a very poverty rate. This can be achieved by removing the ruling class and its insatiable greed for personal acquisition and treasury looting. In this respect, labour and LASCO struggle must thus be centrally geared towards achieving decent living standard at all levels for all layers of the masses and not just those in paid employment.
Labour and LASCO should take comfort from the fact that Nigeria is stupendously endowed with super abundant natural and human resources that can lay basis for the provision, on a permanent basis, for decent living standard for every Nigerian. But as we in the DSM often stated, this end will remain unattainable as long as the prevailing pro-imperialist, self-serving capitalist elements control the political and economic power of the society.
To be in a position to utilize the inexhaustible natural and human resources possessed by the country to better the lot of the vast majority of its people, there is absolute necessity to end the political rule of capitalist exploiters and all shades of political usurpers once and for all. Only a truly workers’ and poor peasants’ government built on a democratic socialist foundation can lay a basis for actualization of this goal.
Consequently, the crystallization/formation of a truly mass working peoples’ political party, dedicated to the realization of this goal, should of necessity, constitute one of the main objectives of the current struggle. If this is not done, the masses will, unfortunately, be made to become weary of mass action that leads to no permanent achievement. This, we wish to stress, constitutes the main weakness of the mass movement that took place against military rule (particularly from the 1993 annulment of June 12 elections to May 29, 1999) and the 7 general strikes/mass protests against Obasanjo’s neo-liberal policies between 2000 and 2005.
These previous movements revealed the working masses’ preparedness and determination to change their political and economic lot for the better. Most unfortunately however, a truly masses’ political platform, programme and strategy was always missing. In order to break the vicious cycle of mass misery and political repression permanently ravaging the masses, the DSM advocates the immediate creation /formation of an independent mass working people’s party that is scientifically equipped with programmes and strategies of a socialist revolution to dislodge capitalist elements from power.
Nonetheless, the DSM will work to help make the 2-day mass action fixed for May 28 and 29 2007 a great success. We therefore call on all working class elements and youths to mobilize at their work places, neighbourhood and communities for peaceful mass protest, rallies and all other legitimate acts of civil disobedience in order to ensure a resounding success of the proposed 2-day mass actions. At the same time, we argue that this struggle seen as a preparation for the next steps, including a general strike, necessary to win genuine democratic rights, chase out the looters and break with this rotten system. Join the DSM now to help build a movement to achieve these goals.