Nigeria: After the elections, what next?

A scientific evaluation of all the factors and forces involved in the just concluded as well as the forthcoming elections has clearly shown that the working masses cannot expect a fundamental improvement in their living conditions in the aftermath of the general election.

Punch, one of Nigeria’s biggest selling daily newspapers, republished on April 16 the following statement by Segun Sango, general secretary of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM, the CWI in Nigeria), on the elections underway in Nigeria. Protests are now developing against the blatant rigging of the state elections held on April 14 and demands growing both for new state elections and a delay in the holding of the national elections scheduled for April 21 so that genuinely free elections can be organised.

After the elections, what next?

To start with, virtually all the main contestants from the ruling and opposition parties are basically the same elements that have been ruling and ruining Nigeria since Independence in 1960. Very importantly, too, the so-called primaries conducted by the major capitalist parties to pick their flag bearers were the worst to date in the history of intra-party elections in Nigeria. In most cases, the “victors” of the organised sham called primaries were the elements favoured by the powers that be and party hierarchy, regardless of the true wishes of party members.

The general election may be the most expensive, going by the fabulous sum of money being spent by candidates of the main capitalist parties on billboards, newspapers and electronic adverts, etc. This undue monetisation of politics and shift from house to house campaign sharply reflect the unbridgeable and increasing gulf that separates capitalist politicians from the real world of the suffering working masses.

Less than 15 days to the commencement of the general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had failed/neglected to carry out necessary measures needed to ensure successful elections. Under the electoral law, INEC is bound to display voters’ register at least 120 days before the commencement of the general elections. Regrettably, this was not done. Under the electronic registration exercise conducted by INEC, most voters registered at special polling centres different from their residential quarters. Consequently, most voters ended up not being able to cast their votes. This apparent shambolic preparation had heightened the debate about whether the widely hated PDP government intends to quit power on May 29, as stipulated by the 1999 constitution.

With the results announced so far, it is evident that another set of locusts parading as leaders have come to power. Plainly put, the elections have only produced elements who, in fact, should be expected to loot the treasuries, to carry out a more vicious anti-poor policies in order to recoup with greater intensity the stolen money that was invested to capture political power at all costs.

Only the emergence of a viable pan-Nigerian working class movement and political party can hold in check the inevitable anti-poor policies and corruption which will mostly characterise governance in post 2007 general election. Unfortunately, however, a scientific survey of the contemporary working class organisations and polity gives very little cause to cheer in this respect. While the trade union movement had led and organised seven general strikes and mass protests against some aspects of neo-liberal anti-poor policies in the past five years, on the whole, the entire trade union movement remains without coherent, pro-masses’ economic and political alternatives to the anti-poor ones constantly offered by capitalism.

To prepare for the inevitable socio-economic attacks that may be launched in the post 2007 elections, now is the time to step up a strategy on how to build a powerful working class resistance economically and politically. This will basically require that a truly pan-Nigerian labour party be built. Only this kind of political platform can successfully wrest political power from the self-serving capitalist elements that will always rig elections to remain in power at all times. The magnificent and electrifying response which Adams Oshiomhole’s campaign received in Edo State clearly shows that the masses across the country are seriously yearning for a clean break with “business-as usual” politics.

We must give attention to the building and development of genuinely proletarian socialist forces in the trade unions, city and rural communities, among students, etc. This is imperative because only a genuine workers and poor peasants’ government, built on a socialist foundations, can begin to fundamentally address the various basic socio-economic needs of the masses. Only such forces can provide the needed ideological and organisational back-up without which any pro-masses’ political platform can easily become politically neutralised.

Under the prevailing socio-economic conditions, a genuine working masses’ party would almost be impossible to build without genuine socialists playing frontal roles in its day-to-day political and organisational existence. Such a mass party must adopt a clear socialist programme and link every daily battle with the overall need for a real system change and a start for the working people to democratically plan the use of the country’s rich resources in the interests of all.

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April 2007