Last Wednesday, I received the text of the press conference addressed by our old comrade, Salisu Mohammed, as Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the Labour Party. The address expressed “deep concerns” about the “decay and derailment from the ideals of the Labour Movement (Social Democracy)” by the Labour Party leadership in recent years.
The new National Caretaker Committee was inaugurated to help re-position the party; it is composed of some of the veteran leaders of the Nigerian trade union movement and the Nigerian left. These are individuals with pedigree in fighting the cause of the working people and the poor. A good step, but it is incroyable (as the French say),that the Labour Party was left in the hands of very reactionary characters for so long.
The party was turned into a joke; it was neither a LABOUR party, because it did not stand for the CLASS interests of the working people, nor was it a PARTY, because it was opened up for some of the most controversial characters to use as a platform to search for power without an ideological affinity to the working people. It was the party that the controversial Nnamdi “Andy” Ubah once used trying to become governor of Anambra State.
The height of the charade was its adoption of Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate for presidency in 2011! And in recent times, its leadership has spent so much time attacking the opposition and defending the ruling government at the same time.
The decadence of the Labour Party reflects the dead end arrived at by the present crop of leaders of the Nigerian Trade Union Movement. The labour movement has become a eunuch, unable to galvanise the class actions that made the movement the most important class organisation of the Nigerian working people and the poor.
On the one hand, there were objective difficulties located in how triumphant capitalist neoliberalism has done everything to destroy the organisational capacities of working people, through the casualisation of labour; the conscious destruction of collective bargaining processes plus the weakening of trade unions and closure of companies that depleted the number of unionised workers. On the other hand is the consolidation of petty bourgeois, even haute bourgeois, lifestyles of the trade unions leadership. The Labour Aristocracy enjoys privileges that class action might endanger!
The characters who hitherto ran the Labour Party have approached it from a mercantilist mentality, thus ensuring that the Nigerian Labour Party has not grown in proportion with the Nigerian people’s need for an alternative to the reactionary ruling class parties, but especially PDP and APC! There was no Labour Party to posit an alternative platform to the destructive neo-liberal policies that creates a few billionaires (ridiculously celebrated!) as the mass of Nigerians live in a desperate disillusionment that has led to insurgency and sundry crimes in our country.
Yet, Nigeria needs a genuine Party of Labour to posit an alternative to a rampaging and destructive neoliberal capitalism. The interim leadership of the Labour Party should re-position the party by infusing it with a genuine CLASS content. That is their their duty to the working people, the poor and Nigeria!