Widespread mass anger continue to trail the perennial recurrence of maddening cases of preventable carnage like the Lagos-Ibadan fire accident with other avoidable pockets of tensions and crises spilling all over. What is glaringly clear is that these incidents occur based on the inherent failure of the ruling capitalist elite to meet and address the socio-economic needs of the vast majority of the working masses –critical infrastructure-well-integrated railway system side by side with broadly-connected roads –which is the collapse that brings up these crises time and over again.
This is equally with the failure of a looting and ruining elite to raise the living standards of the generality of working people, the broad layers of the rank-and –file of the police included, in terms of a decent living wage and other humane working conditions. Due to the absence of a broad working people’s political alternative with a far-sighted leadership that can amass the anger of the working masses on a well-connected programme of action, the ordinary working class elements may pit themselves in battle with rank-and-file police(which have been held culpable for the malady without recognizing the fact that they are forced agents of their bosses in the top rotten echelon of the police ) .While holding the position that the culpable policemen responsible for the Lagos fire accident should be appropriately prosecuted, ordinary working class elements must draw the correct social conclusion of the class that is entirely responsible for the madness: the looting ruling and ruining class.
For over half a century of its corporate existence, the different sections of the ruling class has plunged the working masses into ruin and misery based on the anti-poor neo-liberal policies which have been strictly implemented across board. Lapping from the oil wealth solely, the ruining elite have abandoned all the crucial tasks of genuine national development. This stems naturally from the current capitalist order prevailing in Nigeria which places the enormous resources of the society in the hands of the few and plunges the millions of working masses in mass misery. This is as a result of the fact that it is run on the greed of the bosses other than the vast social needs of the working masses
*Lagos-Ibadan fire disaster-rotten political, military and police elite is culpable: With years of complete abandonment by different wings of the ruling elite-both the civilian and military regimes-the expressway is a deathtrap anyday. Despite a rotten concession to a construction firm on the pure cold cash calculations, the expressway is a clear evidence of complete irresponsibility and insanity of the political and corporate elite. This is aside the rotten layers of bosses in the police who force their rank-and-file elements through direct order or undue withholding of salaries and allowances into barricading roads to make extortions. Genuine working class elements while demanding the identification and prosecution of the culpable police officers on the barricade leading to the fire breakout, they must channel their anger to the political, military and police elite which is really responsible for the entire collapse. This anger needs to be translated into action by joining genuine working class organizations into building a broad mass working people’s political alternative that will upturn the capitalist ruling elite and put in place a genuine workers’ and peasants government that will guarantee the needs of all.
*Police brutality and extortion; Malady stemming from rotten anti-poor capitalist system: This is side by side with the hotly-debated Human Rights Watch report which exposed the culpable role of the rotten police elite in breeding police brutality and extortion. Inspite the clear culpability of the police in the Lagos fire disaster for instance, the police high command continue to make embarrassing denials. Significantly, spontaneous protests broke out over this maddening denial on the spot of the scene, which was repeated the next day. This shows the urgent need for a broad working people’s political alternative that will genuinely defend the interests of the working masses.
As in the case of the Human Rights Watch reports like any other commentary on police brutality, while the blame on the rotten layers of the top brass of the police is correctly placed, a case is not made for the rank-and-file of the police to connect their struggles on living wage and better working conditions to the general struggles of labour and other mass working class organizations in fighting to uproot the current disorderly capitalist system. Only a genuine and well-connected programme of action linking the travails and struggles of the rank-and-file of the police with other mass workers’organisations can bring genuine workers’ and peasants government into power to guarantee the needs of all.
Ethno-religious tensions and communal killings; Evidence of capitalist failure: With the yawning absence of a mass working people’s political alternative which can amass the prevailing anger of working people, ethno-religious tensions will surface or recur in letting off the steam. The incidence in University of Ibadan is a typical case of spillage of social anger taking the religious channel. A protest has broken over the intrusion of a preaching Christian girl in a Ramadan gathering. What would have been a normal outcome is for the young lady to be excused, but with the seething social anger it almost led to explosion of tension on religious platter. The last period has also witnessed the recurrence of ethno-religious crises and killings across board stemming from unbearable social conditions under which the working masses live and work.
Clearly, the burden now rests on genuine mass working class organizations –trade unions and the pro-labour strata –to rapidly put in place the broad working people’s political alternative that will channel the mass anger of the working people towards their real foe: the ruling elite.
Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) must lead the fight against police brutality and extortion need to give a sharp, clear and thorough working class echo to the widespread anger on the disastrous consequences of police extortion and brutality as in the case of the Lagos fire accident. This must be with the perspective of linking it to the root cause which is the decay and failure of the capitalist system and the need to struggle for system change. With a well-connected charter of demands that will link the struggles of the rank-and –file of the police with that of the generality of ordinary workers, a one-day protest in a city like Lags for example would put a working class stamp on the outrage.
Struggles of trade unions for better living standards must be linked with battle for power: Currently the central trade unions, particularly the NLC has placed an ultimatum on government which is to lapse by September for a new and living wage, opposition to VAT Hike,etc. While labour and other genuine mass working class organizations should continue to fight for better living standards for the generality of working people, they must understand that until power is taken from the hands of the ruling and ruining elite leading to a workers and peasant’s government the situation will continue to get worse. It must therefore link these struggles with battle for system change by immediately putting in place a genuine working people’s political alternative.
A general strike after the lapse of the September ultimatum will put this on the agenda firmly. Mobilization and Action Committees will be needed during this period of the ultimatum to carry out s
ensitization work on the need to struggle and to coordinate actions during the general strike, when it is finally called. With well –connected programme of action linking the struggles of the rank-and-file of the armed forces(jailed Akure Six) and police (proposed police inspector’s strike ),police and soldiers ‘committees will also be formed to give support to the struggles of workers in putting in place a genuine workers and peasants government.
Labour unions must Labour Party. This can be fast tracked by putting in place a genuine working people’s political alternative. The NLC and TUC in particular, the two major central trade unions, inspite the perpetual calls on their leadership to mobilize their rank-and-file into the Labour Party, they helped create has now left it to the whims and caprices of a hawkish and reactionary leadership which have made the party platform as haven for rejects from the capitalist parties through the current obnoxious candidature fees.
Yet the situation continues to worsen as there is no genuine commitment from the leadership in this direction. However, it is still possible for the labour leadership to salvage the situation in the party by taking quick and immediate steps to move into the day-to-day running of the party with the rank-and-file of its affiliates in a clear and organic manner. This has to be with a genuine commitment in putting in place a democratically-elected party leadership and opposition to the exorbitant candidature fees in order to stand working class candidates on a correct pro-worker programme.
Genuine and Independent Socialist Alternative: If the situation worsens still, genuine mass working class organizations may have to take the next step in putting in place a genuine independent and socialist alternative that will rally genuine trade unionists, ordinary working class and change-seeking elements in the decisive struggle for power. It is therefore incumbent on working class organizations to hasten the process of galvanizing the anger of working people into building the force that will take power out of the ruling elite and bosses.
Winning the support of the majority of the working class base of the broad labour movement, a trade union-regenerated labour party and /or a Working People’s Party on the banner of a clear-cut socialist programme will launch a workers and poor peasants’ government into power. Such a working class government armed with a socialist programme will ensure: Nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy under the democratic socialist control of workers, peasants and youth; Repudiation of the fictitious foreign debt and maximization for total infrastructural development; Public ownership of all public enterprises and companies under the direct democratic control of workers, peasants and youth; Free education at all levels up to tertiary level; Massive public works programme to build every necessary school, hospital and homes and generate jobs for everyone; Democratic planning of production with centrally-controlled economy to safeguard available means for everyone.
Convocation of a Sovereign National Conference made up democratically-elected representatives of the constituents of workers, peasants, artisans, ethnic nationalities and the rank-and-file of the army and the police to determine corporate existence of Nigeria with right to self-determination.
A voluntary socialist federation of Nigeria will be a beacon to masses in war-torn West Africa, the entire continent, fighting workers in advanced countries of Europe and the entire world.