The NLC & TUC Lagos state councils declared support for the re-election of Babajide Sanwo-Olu as governor of Lagos state and Bola Ahmed Tinubu for president on Thursday 12th January. This disgraceful act draws attention once again to the line of division between the interests of rank-and-file workers and those of the bureaucracy which runs the trade unions.
It also points to the need for socialist activists in the working class movement to combat capitalist ideas and politics in the trade union movement with revolutionary perspectives and praxis. We must highlight the fact that no party of capitalists or even parties established by the trade union bureaucracy which does not stand for breaking from the exploitative logic of capitalism, can advance the cause of working-class people.
It is not enough for us to laugh or cry, in politics. We have to understand why trade union leaders, who formally represent workers, can and usually do line up behind one section of the ruling class or the other
The trade union bureaucracy, which comprises these leaders, occupies a contradictory location in the class struggle. While their legitimacy derives from being representative of workers, they are also beneficiaries of the capitalist system.
None of them lives off anything close to the minimum wage. They feed fat on workers’ check-off-dues, which is one of the reasons why some of them never want to leave power, and stay in office for decades.
They also enjoy perks and privileges from employers, including the government. Such perks include appointments to boards where they get massive honoraria. The government also sponsors them for programs both within and outside the country. It does not end there. There are established cases of governments handing over substantial cash to labor leaders for personal projects.
None of the bosses or their parties can ever stand up for workers. They benefit from our exploitation. To stand up for workers would be class suicide. Does that mean that Peter Obi of the Labour Party formed by NLC represents us? The simple answer is NO! As we all know, Obi joined LP in May only because he was not going to win the ticket of PDP.
As governor of Anambra state, he was an enemy of workers. Thousands of workers were not paid. And he repressed workers and unionists that challenged his anti-worker policies.
It is also important to note that, just like the trade unions, LP upholds the capitalist system of the bosses. What we need is a revolutionary overthrow of this exploitative system. That is why SWL and some trade unions on the frontlines of relentless struggle support the African Action Congress.
These include the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria (JDWAN), which led the historic bus drivers’ strike in Lagos state two months ago. Unlike the Lagos state NLC and TUC, the JDWAN has declared unalloyed support for the African Action Congress, and its Lagos state council is fully backing Akeem Olayiwola, the AAC Lagos state gubernatorial candidate.
We urge all class-conscious workers to support AAC, the revolutionary party that stands for the total liberation of working-class people.
by Lionel AKPOYIVO