A Labour Party was created in the recent period in Nigeria. This had been a long time coming, but unfortunately many renegades from various bourgeois parties have jumped on the bandwagon using the party to promote their own careers. The Marxists maintain that the party must be tightly linked to the Nigerian Labour Congress and the workers must take control of the party if it is to become the true voice of the Nigerian working class.
The 3rd National Convention of Labour Party took place in Abuja on Saturday 12th December, 2009. The convention was divided into two sessions. The first session was the presentation of a paper on electoral reform by senator, Jonathan Zwingina, Justice Mustapha Akanbi ICPC Chairman, and lastly, a solidarity message by the General Secretary of Nigerian Labour Congress, John Odah. The second session was dedicated to constitutional review, dissolution of the National Executive Council and election of the new National Executive Council of the Party.
The first session started with the singing of the party National Anthem, which not surprisingly, stemmed from Labour revolutionary song; it goes thus:
“We have decided to form a party”
“We have decided on Labour Party”
“We have decided to save the nation”
“No going back, No going back.”
Jonathan Zwingina, after a prolonged talk and assertions, wrongfully concluded that, the reason why the bourgeois politicians in Nigeria have been robbing people cheaply of their vote is because Nigerian people have been too docile and he advised that we should always try to resolve electoral problems politically and place less emphasis on the legal side. This assertion is very typical of bourgeois liberals, who always blame the masses for their own mis-education and their own treacherous activities. He also said that the political parties in Nigeria presently are too many and proposed that any party that does not have up to 10% of the total vote should be scrapped. Justice Mustapha Akanbi did not come but his paper was read to the delegates by Issa Aremu.
John Odah (the General Secretary of Nigerian Labour Congress) in his solidarity message said that serious consultation is ongoing within the Nigerian Labour Congress on the need to fully identify with the Labour Party, which in the first instance is its idea and a product of its energy and labour. He also used the opportunity to refute the accusation of the masses made by Senator Zwingina that the Nigerian people are docile. He correctly said that Nigerian people are obviously active and responsive, citing many instances where the Nigerian working class has taken militant action against the government’s policies. Rather than blaming the people, he reiterated that the Nigerian ruling class should be blamed; they lack programmes, ideology and are cowardly in their approach to fighting against electoral malpractices, they sit back in the comfort of their air-conditioned abode, while remote-controlling the people on the streets protesting. He sharply and correctly put right another erroneous conclusion made by Zwingina on the question of scrapping some political parties. He said that it took a serious political and legal battle by Late Chief Gani Fawahinmi to achieve the present multi-party system that we have now in Nigeria, and that it will be highly undemocratic and a serious disservice to the Nigerian people to suggest that any party should be scrapped.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko, a former PDP member and a Bourgeois per excellence, who contested under the Labour Party in Ondo State also addressed the delegates. He listed quite a number of pro-labour programmes he had implemented in Ondo State. He expressed how honoured he felt to belong to the party of the left. He claimed he has paid all the pending pensions, that he is declaring a bonus for all the civil servants in Ondo State. Interestingly enough, he came to the convention with a couple of his loyalists, many of them political careerists, and no trade union representative was around to actually confirm his credentials.
The second session started with the constitution review exercise where almost all the points in the constitution were upheld by the leadership. Almost all the reviews made by the delegates were thrown out by the leadership. The atmosphere was very hostile to any progressive change in the constitution. It was obviously a constitutional review to prepare a move very far to the right by the Labour Party leadership. The intention is to stifle democracy within the party and make the leadership completely unaccountable to the ranks.
The National Executive Council was dissolved, and then came the election of a new national executive council. Alas! All the posts were unopposed, and consequently there was no election. All the formal executive members were re-elected.
It was equally agreed that a joint meeting of the NLC congress and Labour Party congress would be held in February 2010. This is a welcome development, which if held, would start a process that can finally seal the alliance between the NLC and the Labour Party, an alliance that will obviously save the Labour Party from the impending catastrophe being mapped out by its leadership.
It was also agreed that a monthly publication by the Labour Party will commence by January 2010. This is also a correct step, which if well managed and properly organized by the workers, is going to be the voice of the oppressed.
The immediate task before the Nigerian working class now is how to reclaim the Labour Party from all the enemies of labour within the party by fully identifying with it. The NLC and TUC [Two main trade union confederations] leaderships should openly declare for the party. It is only by doing this that we can prevent the party leadership from selling the party tickets to people who are openly enemies of the working class.
The Labour Party, if well focused and organised, is the only party in Nigeria which can successfully mobilize and win the support of all Nigerians, irrespective of age, sex, ethnic and religious belief. The present Nigerian ruling class has completely lost credibility, social base and respect among the people. For close to five decades of their rule, they have brought more suffering and agony than anyone can imagine. Education has become completely out of reach for ordinary Nigerians with standards dropping on daily basis. Over 10 million Nigerian children are completely out of school; this is according to the UNICEF report of 2009. Of all the promises of 6,000MW power production before the end of December 2009, power generation is still less than 2,000MW.
The only party that can remedy this situation is the party of the Nigerian working class, since it was the NLC that formed the Labour Party, but it has to be successfully organized and built by them. This is the only way the party can wrestle power from all these thieving and useless ruling elites, who have nothing to offer the people. The Labour Party should also resist any attempt to join the proposed Mega-party, which represents the coming together of all the bourgeois parties apart from PDP. They are also the same people that have looted the treasury of this country till date. All of them have the same programme and agenda which are: Privatization, commercialization, deregulation etc.
The Labour Party must be completely independent from all these elements in other to successfully take power from them. The Marxists of the Workers’ Alternative had delegates and intervened in the convention and at the end we sold a total of 112 copies of our papers and our paper was well received.