LABOUR PARTY AND 2011 GENERAL ELECTION

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2011 is here and the Political Parties are warming up for the forthcoming election. But unfortunately, Labour Party which ordinarily was supposed to be the political platform of the working class and the other poor masses in society, due to its enormous potential and strength, might after all not be able to effectively stand as a credible alternative to challenge other political parties, due to its present weak position. In 2007, the party won 1 out of 360 seats in the House of Representatives, without any seat in the senate and just one governor out of 36.

Four years after, the situation is not better. Presently the party has no Presidential aspirant, most of the contestants vying for elective positions are people who have fallen out with their original political parties and have seen the enormous potential of the party and want to use the party to further their career.

Another unfortunate incident was an event that took place in the Lagos state section of the party, where the party was cheaply surrendered to some political jobbers who are not members of the party but were trying to buy up the party in order to sell it to the highest bidder. It was the timely intervention of loyal party members in Lagos state who vehemently resisted this attempt and eventually saved the party. If not for the cheap sell out of the leadership of the party in Lagos state, the party would have produced a credible governorship aspirant who would have effectively challenged the ruling party in the state.

Why is the Party in this present state?

One of the reason why the party is in this state despite its enormous strength is as a result of the fact that the party presently has a deformed leadership both at the National and various state levels. They lay too much emphasis on money instead of numbers. For example, when the National Chairman of the party was asked why the party is not fielding presidential aspirant in 2011 election in the Punch News paper of Friday December 31st 2010; he replied: “I have said it before and I am saying it again without apology that presidential ambition is not for small boys, who do not have money. In 2007, we paid each agent in few states where we contested election the sum of N2,000.00, now if we are going to field a presidential candidate, and we are going to pay our agents N2,000.00 like we did in 2007, and you know that there are 1,200 polling units that means we have to pay N240m to the agents. Where would this money come from?”. This happens to be the general belief of the people at the leadership of the party despite the potential.

Ironically, this party was supposed to be the party of working class and ordinary people of Nigeria. Presently there are 57.5M Nigerian workers in Nigeria with close to 10M organized in various unions. If the party had been made attractive to the workers by its day-to-day activities and also by identifying with their agitations and struggles, to raise even an amount much more than 240m would not have been a problem assuming they have faith and believe in the party. But instead, their policy and their activities repel genuine people who are supposed to be the traditional member of the party but attract people who ordinarily are not supposed to be seen close at all to the party.

Another important factor worthy of mentioning is the role of the trade union leadership. The trade union leadership formed the party (Labour party) and instead of building it and make it a genuine workers party to effectively challenge the other bourgeois party by mobilizing its members into it, chose to abandon the party. A striking confirmation of this was what happened in 2007 general election where Comrade Adams Oshiomole (Former President of Nigerian Labour Congress) who has won a lot of respect among Nigerian workers by leading various workers struggle in the past and who was also instrumental to the formation of the party instead of contesting under the banner of the party for governor of Edo State abandoned the party for one of the bourgeois party (AC). This obviously demobilized many workers who looked up to him as their leader from moving into the party, many of them defected to AC especially in Edo State. Expectedly, he won the ticket in Edo state not because he was in AC but because of his record as a Labour man. Up till now, he is still being referred to as the comrade Governor which shows that if Oshiomole had remained in the Labour Party and contested under the party banner not as Edo State Governor which he would have won but as Presidential aspirant in 2007; even if he did not win, he would have successfully popularized the party throughout the country, and the party would have become a force to be reckoned with in this present transition process.

Way Forward

Presently, the situation in Nigeria is highly pathetic and volatile. Education is in shamble, it has been estimated that about 10 million Nigerian children are out of school. The roads have become death trap. We still generate less than 3,000MGW of electricity when on the average we need about 17,000MGW and instead of the government to look at how to increase the generation, the only solution they can come up with is to privatize the PHCN which is definitely going to make the electricity tariff higher and unavoidable to majority of ordinary Nigerians in addition to not solving the power problem. On October 1st 2010, Nigerian celebrated 50 years of her independence with nothing to show for in terms of infrastructural development which have gone from bad to worse. For 50 years, Nigerian Political class has proven completely incapable of solving most of the fundamental problems facing ordinary Nigerians. Unemployment rate still remain one of the highest in the world.

Therefore, the only way forward is to wrestle power from this useless Nigerian ruling class who have failed us for 50 years. In other to achieve this task, we need a political party. Presently there is a Labour Party formed by the Labour Bureaucrat but abandoned. Presently the leadership of the party is gradually moving the party away from its primary constituency through its policies; the leadership of NLC and TUC should as a matter of urgency mobilize its members into the party so as to reclaim the party and make it a genuine working class-base party that will effectively challenge the thieving Nigerian Political class and wrestle power away from them. That remains the only genuine way forward to solve the Nigerian situation.