by Adefolarin A. Olamilekan
A pertinent question for working class activists, one month after the swearing in of President Buhari must be how ready is organized labour to engage with the current administration of the bosses, in the interest of the working class? Related to this is another salient question; what should be the nature of such engagement?
The labour movement, encompassing the trade unions and radical civil society organizations, including socialist groups has been at the fore of different struggles for the emancipation of the teeming mass of poor working people since the struggle against colonialism, till date. But a lot has changed over the years. The engagement of these forces used to be grounded in radical ideology; aiming to change the world for better. But now, most of them have bought into the seeming “objectivity” of the rule of the bosses. But nothing can be further from the truth. No matter how apparently committed to “change” all parties of the bosses stand first and foremost for the defence of the exploitative system of capitalism.
We must not think that it is too early in the day to raise agitations because the government is just one month old. We must seize the initiative in demanding pro-working people policies and programmes. If we do not dare to struggle, we will not win. While the bosses’ parties stand for the interests of the exploiter classes, the extent to which they can oppress us is partly determined by our readiness to fight on the basis of clear cut ideas and political alternatives.
The trajectory of the governments dealings with the working masses at the federal, state and local government levels since the transition to civil rule in 1999 best speaks of outright deceit and our being used and dumped by the bourgeois politicians. In fact, there is no basis for trust between labour unions and government going by the deceitful attribute mostly exhibited by the Nigeria government when it comes to workers plights, conditions of service and welfare. As we all know, the promises that are mostly made by government, most of the time remained largely unfulfilled or reversed. Thus, it is instructive that workers and there labour unions leaders must not allow themselves to be deceived and must remain at the barricade in the struggle to emancipate the long-suffering workers.
To this extent, it is proper for workers conscientization to be broadened and espoused strongly and continuously on the basis of a socialist programme. The 2015 general elections show that the masses are tired of the traditional parties. But in the absence of a strong and genuinely workers’ party, they turned to the “change” promise of Muhammadu Buhari and the APC. But we can already see that there is little if any difference between APC and PDP politicians from the pitiable drama in the National Assembly.
It is high time that the trade unions wake up to the need of building a strong workers party which shall gallantly engage in elections but also take politics beyond the polling booths to the workplaces and communities. It is obvious the regular politicians and our domestic capitalists together with their global capitalist overlords have continued to exploit, oppress and degrade the Nigerian workers to fulfill their quest for profit. As Karl Marx rightly pointed out ….” they mutilate the labourer into a fragment of a man, degrade him to the level of an appendage of a machine, destroy every remnant of charm in his work and turn it into hated toil’’
It is now cogent and for the interest of every Nigerian workers, that we enlist in the struggle and without breaking ranks, not exposing the movement to division that could truncate the objective and aim of the Nigeria workers good. We must not be fooled by the call of President Buhari, in his inaugural swear for responsible labour unions. What this translates into is pliant trade union leadership that will be malleable to the capitalists. Things are not always as they appear and we must look deeply into seemingly objective calls of the bosses. As Karl Marx pointed out “there is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have chance of gaining its luminous summits”. We as workers must beam our searchlight on the bosses, not just in pursuit of reforms. We will welcome and defend reforms won in our engagements but our ultimate goal must be that of overthrowing the capitalist system and building a socialist society on the basis of solidarity, cooperation and social justice.