Written by Ola Balogun Tuesday, 19 January 2010 19:45
The physical ill-health of the present President of Nigeria is compounding the crisis of the regime. But whoever the ruling class replace him with, the anti-worker policies will stay the same. What is required is for the Nigerian Labour Party to break with the bourgeois elements and pose as a completely independent party of the working class.
The present bourgeois democracy in Nigeria has its foundation built upon the hundreds of Nigerian students killed in the 1992 student protest, which culminated in hundreds of lives lost again in the 1993/1994 anti-military protests. It was founded upon an irreconcilable hatred that the Nigerian working class and youth developed against the military regimes that had plundered this country for almost 30years of its 49 year existence as an independent state. The naked dictatorship of Abacha military junta further exacerbated this growing hatred.
Under the military regime, per capital income which was $2000 in 1960 went unbelievably down to $200 by 1985 under the regime of Babangida. Nigeria, which was a net exporter of food, became a net importer by 1984. Unemployment soared, poverty rose and the country was demoted from being classed as a middle income nation to be rated among the poorest nations. The value of the currency slumped and Nigeria entered into a state of permanent economic decline, which up till today it has yet been unable to get out of.
All these conditions created the basis upon which the present bourgeois “democratic experiment” started in 1999. It enjoyed wide support of many layers of the Nigerian people who were prepared to accept anything rather than military dictatorship.
During the 8 years of the Obasanjo regime, all the hopes and aspirations of Nigerian workers and youth turned sour. Expectations turned to disappointment and by 2007, disappointment of the people had already turned to frustration. People felt betrayed by the ruling class which rather than improving things, they further worsened the situation. The manufacturing sector which was 14% of GDP before 1999, by 2007 was just 1%. Privatization of national assets, which started under the military, received greater impetus under the so called “civilian regime”. The fuel price was N20.00 in 1999 and jerked up to N75.00 just before the Obasanjo regime left office in 2007. The poverty rate rose from 56% of Nigerians to 72% by 2007. It is true that almost the whole debt owed to the IMF and other western donors by previous military juntas was paid off, but this was done at the expense of healthcare provisions, qualitative education and provision/maintenance of other social amenities.
With the entire social base upon which this present democracy has been standing completely eroded, it presented a very serious but expected challenge to the Nigerian ruling class in the 2007 succession bid. The Nigerian ruling class was faced with two options: either to modify the constitution and let Obasanjo continue with his brutal and ruthless method of leadership against all odds and opposition or come up with a new personality who could look harmless and outwardly deceptive, whose credentials would temporarily at least further elongate the life of this lifeless “Civilian Regime” through the use of deception.
No sooner had the game started, than they realized the impossibility of forcing on Nigerians Obasanjo, who by then was the most Unpopular Man in Nigeria. Forcing Obasanjo on the Nigerians would have provoked a devastating crisis that would have consumed the whole system. So they quickly jettisoned this option and started a desperate search for a deceptive personality. Unfortunately, the Nigerian ruling class has been so degenerate, inept, mafia-like, inefficient and grossly degrading, that this search was not at all child’s play. After a long search, the only man whose credentials suited this indecent and dishonest job was a very sick man. This sick man happened to be the present president Yaradua, who despite his condition of health was eager to rescue his class from the impending disaster that it was about to plunge itself into. Rather than attempting to win back its lost social base, this regime has been going from crisis to crisis which is further isolating it.
Why has this regime survived this long?
This regime which started as a completely illegitimate government and without any solid social base should have died off a long time before now. The recent severe illness of Yaradua one would have expected to be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. But unfortunately, this regime has been sustaining itself by resting on the shoulder of the Labour leadership and other pseudo-radicals. Rather than independently mobilizing the Nigerian workers behind an independent party and courageously booting out the present rotten ruling class, they line-up behind one section of the ruling class against another section.
They are strongly demanding the immediate swearing-in of Vice-President Jonathan Goodluck, as if he is going to head a regime different from this dying one. Goodluck has been the main force behind deregulation and he is one with Yaradua in all his anti-labour policies. It is highly embarrassing and provocative to the common intelligence, for the so-called radicals to mobilize Nigerians to demand for the replacement of one inefficient and inept head with another equally inefficient and inept head as if this signified any regime change. The problem is not with who heads the regime but what the regime stands for. This regime stands for the privatization of our collective properties, for deregulation, for the destruction of our education system, for the complete dismantling of what is left of our healthcare system and is pushing for the collapse of other social amenities. To demand that the V.P replaces the sick President is to prefer dying by hanging to dying by firing squad; death is death in whatever form it comes!
The threat of military take-over
All the material foundations upon which the present bourgeois democracy was erected have completely been eroded within 10 years of existence. This regime is incapable of continuing to live and yet it is unwilling to die. It is a sick regime, patiently waiting for an executioner to lay it permanently to rest. In the past, the military would have come to the rescue and deceptively claimed to come and clean-up the mess already created. But the memory of Abacha is still fresh, Babangida is still alive and his scandalous tenure has not yet been forgotten. This is making the military to soberly assess the situation and wait for a much better time to strike. How long will they wait is difficult to predict but obviously, this unstable situation cannot continue for too long. No amount of praying can hold the army back longer than is necessary, as destructive as it may be, if an appropriate and alternative executioner does not emerge on time. It is either the Nigerian working class, through its political party, that will step in and rescue the situation or the military will regain its morale and eventually step in to take us four decades back.
What needs to be done?
For as long as the leadership of the Nigerian working class remains attached to a wing of the Nigerian ruling class, this deadlock will continue to drag on. The working class must boot out the parasites who have presently taken over the Labour Party. The labour leadership must declare publicly for its party and mobilize its rank and file to move in to the party. It must resist the temptation to join any mega-party, because no association with the rotten Nigerian ruling class can make any difference. With the Labour Party, for the labouring masses without the parasitic members of the ruling class like Andy Uba, Fayose and Mimiko, the Nigerian working class should go for power and chase out the existing dying, stinking and completely degenerate ruling class. In this and only this lies the salvation and emancipation of the Nigerian working masses.