The 2023 general elections are just a few weeks away. Almost all the parties contesting have programs and policies that will lead to the worsening of the already precarious lives of the poor masses.
But there is a party on the ballot, with a revolutionary programme for the total liberation of working-class people, which we should all vote for. That party is the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore is its presidential candidate, and A People’s Manifesto for Total Liberation, is its program.
The AAC program for revolutionary transformation of Nigeria stands apart from the manifestos of all the other parties.In its Four Pillars, it promotes the people as their own liberators, for which the party will provide leadership.
The first pillar notes that security can be enthroned by winning a peace which entails justice for all. The party articulates the pathway for this, starting with policies that will stop the ongoing mayhem across the country. Democratically elected Community Level Mediation Committees will drive this process, subordinating the military to radical civilian authority.
The party will not stop at that. It aims to address the root cause of insecurity. These are the poverty and marginalisation of the poor masses. Leading to generalised discontent and providing foot soldiers for banditry and reactionary insurgency.
The party will also put policies in place to enthrone justice for the poor, promote public accountability and provide succour for victims of insecurity. The security and criminal justice systems will be overhauled, for this purpose
In the second pillar, AAC commits to building “a green economy that works for the people.” It boldly observes that “the Nigerian economy has been working for a handful of people,”who have been benefiting from the country’s oil wealth, while “the overwhelming majority of Nigerians have nothing to show for it.”
AAC puts forward bold pro-working people solutions to change this exploitative situation, within the existential crisis of the climate emergency, which has been brought about by the same capitalist dynamics that further the exploitation of the working-class.
The party puts forward well thought out and evidence-based strategies to achieve and sustain regular electricity supply to the people.This will start with the reversal of the power sector privatisation without compensation.
The party makes it very clear in its manifesto that such reversal does not simply mean renationalization. “Popular sovereignty and participatory governance are key pillars of the energy democracy approach which AAC adapts towards establishing a green power sector.”
And it goes further to spell out what this means, stressing that “the people are the subjects of energy for social and economic development” and their organisations “will be involved to advise and hold our government accountable on the power sector policy process.”
The party’s radical strategy for the oil and gas sector is also bold. Unlike those capitalist politicians who will continue the process of liberalisation in the sector with consequent increases in fuel pump price, “we will nationalise the oil and gas sector as a commanding height of the Nigerian economy.” AAC will also investigate and prosecute “all identifiable parties involved” in oil theft, curb foreign control of the sector, and make sure that “the working class will play a central role in making the oil and gas sector work for the people”
The party’s “industrial revolution for national transformation” strategy will promote rapid expansion of the country’s manufacturing base, creation of green jobs, institutionalisation of a democratic developmental state, driven by organisations of working-class people.and democratic rights through cooperatives for MSMEs.
Other strategic areas addressed in the second pillar are infrastructure for development, agriculture and food sovereignty, entertainment and tourism, and how to finance this revolutionary ambitious program of the working class by making the rich pay.
The third pillar of the program sets out the party’s “social policy for a just society” strategy, with the aim of ensuring “the all-round social wellbeing and dignity of all Nigerians,”.
To fulfil this aim, the party commits itself to an agenda of wealth redistribution, and policies which ensure that healthcare, education, housing, water and sanitation are universally accessible.
AAC strongly believes that “there is no liberation for the Nigerian people without the liberation of Nigerian women.”Thus “Women Liberation” is a key sub-pillar of the third pillar and the party will be committed to “struggle against patriarchy.”
It will push for the full implementation of existing laws and policies that promote women’s rights and develop new policies and legislation to ensure women’s liberation.
Youth development equally finds a pride of place in the AAC program. The party appreciates the fact that “young people are Nigeria’s greatest asset and strength” and notes that “several governments, including the serving APC government have only at best paid lip service to youth development.”
It commits itself to addressing the calamity of rising youth unemployment, with concrete measures which include economic empowerment schemes, internships as pathways to employment, and “support for youth-led innovation in the digital economy.”
The party has the most robust program for “the dignity of labour and the social protection of workers,” amongst all parties that have run for elections in Nigeria’s recent history. The party commits to utilising labour market institutions such as the national minimum wage and employment protection regulations to safeguard the welfare and wellbeing of Nigerian workers.
With AAC in power, gone will be the days of take home pay that cannot take the worker home as minimum wage. The national minimum wage negotiations will take the “basic basket of needs” of the worker as point of departure, to ensure that the minimum wage is a living wage which can enable the least paid worker to be able to meet her/his needs and those of her/his family. And it will establish a sliding scale index relationship between wages and inflation, such that workers remuneration will increase whenever inflation rates increase, to avoid depreciation of real wages.
AAC will enshrine workers’ and trade unions’ right to organise and collective bargaining. “Companies that refuse to allow unions to organise in them will be severely reprimanded.” The Decent Work Agenda will no longer be mere words on paper, for workers, under an AAC government. And social protection of workers is a central motif of the party’s agenda for the working class. This includes ensuring improved quality of life for working people. Towards this end, an AAC government will reduce the working week from 40 hours to 35 hours in the first instance, without any loss in pay.
As the only eco-socialist party that has ever been on the ballot, and which has gained the following of a critical mass, it is not surprising that the party’s strategy for addressing the climate crisis and environmental emergency is the best articulation of such politics by any political party at any time in Nigerian politics.
AAC puts forward concrete strategies for addressing: deforestation, desertification, gully and coastal erosion; combating biodiversity loss; reducing flood incidents; addressing pollution, including oil spillages in the Niger Delta and waste management, while ensuring all Nigerians can access clean water as a right.
The fourth pillar of the manifesto sums up the party’s agenda for “building a new Nigeria, winning a new world.” This agenda is to be pursued with a two-pronged strategy: building democracy from below which embraces all Nigerians and “an anti-imperialist politics for global justice.”
For the AAC, democracy will not be reduced to merely voting which oppressor will rule us every four years. The party stands for democracy from below, which guarantees the social, economic, and political rights of all Nigerians, who will be involved from the grassroots in the process of governance on a regular basis, through mass democratic structures of our collective popular power. In this context, “human rights will no longer be an empty slogan.”
The party commits to repealing all discriminatory laws, ending all discriminatory employment practices, national reconciliation and geopolitical restructuring, which affirms the rights of nationalities to self-determination.
Within its first year in power, an AAC government will initiate a constitutional review process towards giving birth to A People’s Constitution for a New Nigeria, through a Sovereign National Conference. And the draft people’s constitution will be put before all Nigerians to adopt or reject in a national referendum.
As a revolutionary Pan-African party, AAC will mobilise the peoples and governments of Africa to build “A People’s African Union.” African unity cannot be reduced to the business of top government functionaries. It has to become a part of the consciousness and reality of the African working people. And it has to be aimed at addressing the class questions of our pauperisation.
Africa is a rich continent with poor people. An AAC government will take all necessary measures to stop the over $80 billion which Africa loses every year to illicit financial flows, and utilise the money to further social and economic development on the continent.
The party will fight on the international scene for “A New Global Political, Economic and Environmental Order,” which will do away with the neoliberal order that fosters the underdevelopment of Africa and other impoverished countries in the Global South.
AAC will stand in solidarity with oppressed people across the world. An injury to one is an injury to all. The party will also stand up for the world to address the shameful legacy of slavery, demanding reparation for Africans and people of African descent.
The programme of the AAC for revolutionary transformation reflects the interests of the working class and all exploited and oppressed people. Cosmetic reforms of the economy or polity will not bring about any meaningful improvement in our lives.
It is also important to note that we will not win the kind of society we want, simply through elections. Freedom comes only through struggle. We thus have to fight to reclaim our alienated rights to wellbeing, dignity and liberty, from the oppressors.
AAC has shown itself to be the party with a fighting spirit and a critical mass of revolutionary activists as its members. Over the past five years, the party has been at the forefront of several campaigns of the working people. It has joined community struggles against epileptic power supply. It has spurred democratic protests for the right to free speech. It has been at all demonstrations of the trade unions. And its members have been leading lights of some of the most significant workers’ strikes in the aviation, road transport and health sectors.
If you want a Nigeria which works for the many and not a few, if you want a better world based on justice and equity, vote Omoyele Sowore for President, vote the AAC at all levels in the February 25 and March 11 general elections. And if you want to be part of a party that fights to win the liberation of the exploited and oppressed people, join the African Acton Congress NOW!
by Baba AYE