Nigeria: ‘Oshiomhole for President’

Union federation supports NLC candidate

The leaders of Nigeria’s largest trade union federation, the Nigerian Labour Congress decided on July 12 to support the NLC President, Adams Oshiomhole, if he decided to stand in the presidential, parliamentary or state elections that are due to be held next year. This is a very significant development in a situation where there is growing support for the idea of working people running their own candidates in opposition to the nominees of the overwhelmingly corrupt capitalist parties.

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM, the CWI in Nigeria) and the radical United Action for Democracy (UAD) issued the following statement on the NLC’s decision. Last month, on 28 June, the DSM and UAD jointly organised a very successful meeting on ‘Building a Working People’s Alternative’ for the 2007 elections. This was attended by official representatives from all three trade union federations and well known radicals, like Gani Fawehinmi, the founder of the National Conscience Party, who called for formation of a socialist party. A report of this meeting is on the DSM’s website, (opens in new window).

‘Oshiomhole for President’

The United Action for Democracy (UAD) and Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) receive with positive enthusiasm the reported decision of the Nigerian Labour Congress’s NEC asking Adams Oshiomhole, its outgoing president, to run for presidency or any other elective post in the forthcoming 2007 general elections.

According to the NLC Deputy President, Abdulwaheed Omar, who briefed the media after the NEC meeting of July 12, 2006, the Congress would no longer watch by the sidelines, while politicians decide the fate of Nigerians and sway to conform their individual and group interests.

He noted that the Congress has come to a conclusion 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. To cap it, Omar said that the NLC would provide all necessary support and logistics to ensure that Oshiomhole succeeds.

Reacting to NEC’s decision in this regard, Oshiomhole was quoted: “My life has always been about people, to put smile in the faces of people. I will never try to compromise on this, governance should be about people, it has been my guiding principle. Labour has been my primary constituency, I will not fail it.” (13 July, 2006)

The UAD and DSM regard the NLC NEC’s decision as being generally in line with our long standing demand that Labour should, in collaboration with all other pro-masses’ organisations and elements, put in place a machinery towards the formation of a working peoples’ political platform. This should take political power from the hands of self-serving capitalists and, in their place, put in power a government that is committed to implement policies in the interest of the working masses and the poor.

For us, therefore, the candidacy of an Adams Oshiomhole should not be treated as an isolated phenomenon, but rather as part of a general labour spearheaded political alternative to the anti-poor economic and political stance of all shades of capitalist politicians. In this respect, we urge the NLC to immediately put in place the necessary programme of action that can provide the needed Labour and grass root support to actualize the political objectives and the mission of Oshiomhole and that of other labour and pro-masses’ candidates. Only a political party, built and supported actively and massively by the working masses, can bring about a situation where Labour backed candidates can emerge victorious in electoral contests with capitalist politicians who use looted funds to ensure their own success, at all costs.

The main challenge, therefore, is about taking conscious steps to build a Labour-oriented political platform and not about looking for a platform through which Adams and other radical/progressive aspirants can merely ventilate their personal ambitions.

Towards this end, we hope that the NLC leadership would support us to immediately reactivate LASCO as a step towards building a formidable mass working peoples’ party that is truly committed to a comprehensive implementation of pro-masses’ politics. Open, democratic meetings and conferences that can discuss these issues should be rapidly organised across the country. A date within the next four months should be set for a democratic national meeting to decide a platform and national candidates and a campaign begun to make it a truly representative gathering of Nigeria’s working people and poor masses.

On the surface, the capitalist politicians can seem too powerful for a financially weak labour oriented political platform to confront. However, this to us is merely one side of the coin. Given the Labour movement’s national spread, a genuine Labour oriented political platform raising key socio-economic issues touching the lives of the masses can, if it is serious, be rapidly built within a short period of time. But this can only be achieved if such a platform is prepared to start to fight on these issues now and shows that mass struggle will continue independently of whether or not candidates are elected in individual elections. Against the background of the mass appeal which individual labour leaders like Oshiomhole already have, a pro-masses political platform can be rapidly built within a short period of time if the Labour leaders show they are serious. Even if such a platform is not strong enough to dislodge the capitalist politicians from power come 2007, it will nonetheless be strong enough to serve the ruling class a strong notice from Labour that the battle to bring to an end their rule of mass misery in the midst of super abundance will continue after the elections.

Finally, we wish to state that the issue of which post a particular individual should contest should ultimately be democratically decided upon the basis of the overall strategic and tactical factors directed towards the entire labour movement capturing political power from the capitalist ruling class. It should not be something to be left to the total discretion of individual Labour elements and or radical/ progressive individuals, as is done by some pro-democracy elements.

Segun Sango

General Secretary, DSM

Biodun Aremu

Convener, UAD

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July 2006