Written by Workers' Alternative Sunday, 17 October 2010 13:50
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) recently set up a Commission to investigate the extent of workers’ participation in and desire for the Labour Party. In spite of the Labour leadership’s claims that Nigerian workers do not desire a party of their own, the report of the investigation revealed the contrary.
A summary of the report
The recent report on the Nigerian Labour Party commissioned by the present NLC leadership is a striking confirmation of our position on the party right from the outset. The objectives of the report were to: 1) Determine the weakness and strengths of the Nigerian Labour Party; 2) Examine the causes of the weakness of the Nigerian Labour Party; 3) Make recommendations that will deal with identified weaknesses and transform the Nigerian Labour Party into one that will have the overwhelming support of the Nigerian trade unions and Nigerian workers.
Eighteen organised trade unions responded to the questionnaire. The results show that a large percentage of the respondents (62.1%) agreed that the number of workers in the trade unions who are members of the Labour Party presently are very few and when they were asked why were they not members, the majority of the respondents raised the following:
•That the structures have not been put in place to attract membership, with only a casual mention of the party at NLC meetings;
•The party’s structures did not reach all the states practically; it only exists on paper.
When they were asked what they thought needed to change in the party for them to become a member, the majority of the respondents observed the following:
•That the structures should be properly put in place and enough enlightenment campaigns should be carried out.
•Many also said that they would join if the party becomes truly a party for the workers, by the workers and of the workers; they equally want the party to be run positively by Labour.
On the question of what role they think the NLC and the trade unions should play in the Labour party, the majority of the respondents said that they should provide coordination and leadership. They also believe that the NLC has the responsibility of mobilising membership for the party. The majority of the respondents also agreed that the major strength of the Labour Party lies in its association and closeness to the working class of this country.
The majority of respondents observed that the perceived weakness of the Labour Party is in funding/financial constraints, so when the respondents were asked whether they would be willing for their trade union to provide financial support to the Nigeria Labour Party, the overwhelming majority (78.4%) of the respondents answered yes.
At the end of the report, it was observed that, the Nigerian Labour Party has immense potential. All the respondents acknowledged that it can become the party in power in Nigeria. It was also observed that the Nigerian Labour Party is not currently supported by Labour in general and the NLC in particular.
The report finally recommended that the Nigerian Labour Party should hold a special delegate conference to review the existing leadership and its constitution.
The report in perspective
Despite all attempts by the leadership of the Labour Party and the labour bureaucrats to keep the party away from the Nigerian workers, so as to sell the party ticket to the highest bidder (i.e. enemies of the Nigerian workers) when election time comes, the report no doubt showed that the workers still feel that the party belongs to them, although they want certain things to be properly put in place before partaking fully in the affairs of the party.
This simply shows that an average Nigerian worker wants a radical change/solution to all the mess created by the visionless and useless Nigerian ruling class who after close to 50 years of their misrule have succeeded in making the conditions of life more difficult for an average Nigerian. Here is a country, which has the potential to become the true giant of Africa, and is now better described as an elephant standing on chicken’s legs.
Nigeria is presently ranked among the poorest countries in the world. It is presently at number 158 out of 182 in the Human Development Index ranking of 2008. Nigeria has an overall GDP which is just barely the same as the State Domestic Product of Nevada, a state in the USA, which has just a tiny population of 2.4 million compared to the 150 million population of Nigeria.
Primary Health care statistics recently released, which despite being doctored, reveal that over 5000 Nigerian children die every week because they do not have access to health facilities (a true holocaust) and yet they are planning to waste a huge amount of N6.5billion to celebrate 50 years of their misrule. On top of this there is the fact that a Nigerian mother is 12 times more likely to die at childbirth than the world average. It is tragic that in 21st century Nigeria, over 70% of its population goes hungry daily and more than 70% of its workforce works in the agricultural sector and yet Nigeria is a net importer of rice, fish and many other necessary sources of food.
With all this lamentable state of things in the country, a true party of the working class would have a great potential to be the biggest not only in the country but also in Africa considering the size of the Nigerian working class, which is 55.5million strong with 10million organised in trade unions.
This explains why the leadership of the NLC and TUC are consciously keeping the party away from the workers. For example, the comrade Governor of Edo state, Oshiomole (former President of the Nigerian Labour Congress), who was a major brain and energy behind the formation of the Labour Party, later abandoned it and contested under a bourgeois party, the “AC”. Obviously, if he had contested under the Labour Party he would have equally won. This he knew very well, but this might have aroused the Nigerian workers and would have allowed them to begin to see how powerful they are and begin to march for their freedom. Oshiomole probably did not want this self-awareness of the working class and rather dumped the party for a more corrupt party of the ruling class. If it were not for the collaboration of the leadership of the working class in Nigeria, the Nigerian workers would have taken power many years ago. The Nigerian ruling class rely so much on the leadership of the working class and spend a lot, just to keep them obedient and useful to them.
Obviously, the labour bureaucrats are using various methods to divert attention from the main issues. Instead of openly associating with the Labour Party which is its baby and mobilize its members to the party, they set up a commission to look into what is happening in the party they formed and also investigate whether the workers want to join. Now the report is out with the overwhelming majority of the Nigerian workers showing interest in joining the party while also tasking their leadership to mobilize members for the party and adequately fund the party. The workers should also be vigilant and insist that their leaders should build the party.
Conclusively, there can never be a solution to the Nigerian situation as long as power is still in the hands of the present ruling class who have proven to be completely incapable of this task. Therefore the worker masses should take their destiny into their own hands by taking power from these charlatans. This they can only do by having their own political party. Workers should be involved in building the party which is the only guarantee to save it from all the enemies of the workers presently using the party for their selfish interests. Workers should insist on the need for their leadership to build the Labour Party as a necessary vehicle to take power and radically save Nigeria from its present and future catastrophe.