Change and the Working Class: Which Way Forward?

Com Abdullahi Denja Yahaya addressing comrades at the symposium
Com Abdullahi Denja Yahaya addressing comrades at the symposium

·         SWL Gwagwalada branch holds symposium

by Segun Ogun

Com Abdullahi Denja Yahaya addressing comrades at the symposium
Com Abdullahi Denja Yahaya addressing comrades at the symposium

Almost forty shop stewards from workplaces and unions in Gwagwalada on the outskirts of Abuja participated actively at the symposium organised by the Socialist Workers League’s branch in the Area Council, on Thursday December 3, with the theme: Change and the Working Class: Which Way Forward?

There were leadoff presentations by Comrade Yahaya Denja Abdullahi, the immediate past NLC FCT Chairman and Comrade Baba Aye, a leading member of the SWL and National Convener of the United Action for Democracy (UAD). Comrade Peter Balogun, General Secretary of NUCSASW chaired the programme.

Comrade Balogun commended SWL for its consistency in organising public sessions for working class enlightenment, noting that he had been invited to several symposiums and guest lectures organised by the SWL in central Abuja over the last few years. He regretted the general collapse of revolutionary discourse within the labour movement and said SWL is an oasis in the desert.

Comrade Yahaya Denja Abdullahi also appreciated the resilience of SWL as he began his presentation, noting that this would be the third symposium of the League at which he would be speaking in less than a year. He asked the SWL to keep the flag flying and continue to play the pivotal role in raising class consciousness that it has been playing within the working class.

He said there is no change in Nigeria because the PDP and APC are not different from each other in any essential manner. In his view, we are actually in a one-party state and that party is the “APCPDP”. To corroborate his argument, he pointed out that APC governors as much as the PDP governors have with one voice, called for a reversal of the N18,000 minimum wage, which in the first place had been nothing to write home about.

Comrade Yahaya was thus emphatic that: “the APC cannot take us to that change which means an end to our exploitation”. There is the need to build a workers’ party with a radical programme. We must however not rely on traditional politicians to fund it otherwise it will go the way the current labour party went, he said. With mass membership, inspired and committed, we will have enough resources for the work and emancipatory politics of real change.

Baba Aye started by observing that the only thing constant in life. This is so because the world is material and matter is in constant motion as is self-evident in nature. He then tried to show how social life has evolved over time as a result of struggle bringing about historical changes.

He then argued that the “change” which APC represents is at best nominal and not primarily in the interest of working class-people. But, he said, to win the trust of the people, APC made commitments that we must hold it to. These are welfarist reforms such improved housing, education and social security measures.

Apart from the fact that the party has started to show that it was not being sincere when making promises, Baba Aye asked working class activists not be deceived into thinking that fundamental social change could come through mere reforms from above. The working class can be emancipated only by the working class itself, through socialist revolution from below.

A mass-based socialist workers party is needed for this. The NLC’s Policy on politics, he pointed out, recognises this and supports such a line. But it had been veered off in the past. This is the time, he said for returning to that founding position of the party of labour.

Related to this is the need for building revolutionary socialist organisations such as the SWL. These help with popularising socialist ideas within the working class, through literature and struggle. He thus enjoined as many comrades as present who were not yet members of the League, to consider joining the SWL and to be committed to struggle for the working class’ self-emancipation, with renewed vigour.

Nineteen persons joined the SWL at the end of the symposium, while 23 copies of Socialist Worker were sold as well as several books and pamphlets.



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