The second and final phase of the 2023 general elections comes up on Saturday 18 March. Nigerians will troop out once again to vote. This time around, they will vote for members into all the State Houses of Assembly, and for governors in twenty-eight out of the thirty-six states.
The African Action Congress (AAC) will be in the gubernatorial race in fifteen of these states and has candidates in the legislative race in one hundred and fifty-five constituencies across seventeen states.
These are activists with an unflinching commitment to struggle for the betterment of the lives of the poor working masses and youth, and indeed for our total liberation. They are not billionaires or even millionaires that exploit workers.
They are not moneybag politicians who have been robbing the country blind with dubious government contracts, or by taking monies directly from the public treasurer as former or serving government officials.
They are workers; they are farmers; they are traders; they are young people; they are people who have been leading their unions and communities fightback against anti-poor people policies of the federal, state, and local governments and the ruling class of oppressors which they represent.
They are the ones whom you will see beside you, with you, and in front of you at the barricades in the momentous struggles that lie ahead, irrespective of whether or not they get elected on 18 March. And make no mistake about this; the incoming government will whip us with scorpions where the outgoing one flogged us with whips.
The president-elect, Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling APC has made it clear that he will worsen the burdens we bear with policies such as a sharp increase in fuel pump price in the name of “removal of fuel subsidy.” He also added that he would do this, no matter how long the people protest.
But we have faced more stubborn maximum rulers, who even had the “benefit” of being in Khaki, such as General Ibrahim Babangida and General Sani Abacha. The people united and organised, defeated them. We will win with strikes, demonstrations, rebellion, and revolutionary struggle. However, having revolutionary voices in some states’ houses of assembly or as governors will help strengthen our resistance.
Who are these candidates?
The candidates of AAC are not like those of the capitalist parties who will promise you to build a bridge where there is no river, and add that they will then channel waters of blessings for you thereinafter. They are tested and can be trusted.
They have the confidence of working-class people and youths whom they have served over the years, as activists. A few highlights can help put AAC’s 170 revolutionary candidates on the ballot in perspective.
Kelvin Edokpa is running for the Esan Central seat in the Edo State House of Assembly. He is a revolutionary activist with a passion for social transformation. He has been at the forefront of the struggle for working-class people and youth in his constituency and for the use and development of the Isan language, supporting the publication of the “Teach Yourself Isan language.” He has also supported over 3,000 poor farmers with seedlings.
He is selfless and turned down a N15 million bribe from a factional Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly for him to step down from the race.
Barnabas Nyitor Tilenenge is a 26-year-old revolutionary activist contesting for the Guma constituency seat at the Benue State House of Assembly. And he is doing this from an Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camp. He has himself been an Internally Displaced Person for the last six years. An unrepentant fighter for justice, he has repeatedly led protests to demand better living conditions in the IDP camp, and security of lives and livelihoods for people to return to their homesteads and live dignified lives.
He and five other AAC comrades were arrested in 2021 for leading a #BenueIsUnderAttack mass demonstration on Democracy Day (i.e., “June 12”), as part of the Take It Back/Coalition for Revolution (CORE) #RevolutionNow campaign. His struggle has not only been for those in IDP camps in Benue, important enough as this is.
He led youths in protest to demand the National Directorate of Employment get young unemployed people jobs. And in the IDP camps, his campaigns for justice have led to the government stepping in to train some IDPs, provide free medical services, and install solar power generation.
It is thus not surprising that young and old working people alike in his constituency are calling for popular support for this tenacious revolutionary young “IDP on the ballot.”
Simeon Ojuolape a chartered digital marketer, psychologist, sculptor and professional content writer, running is one of the 41 candidates of the AAC running for the Lagos State House of Assembly. These are comrades who in 2020 were in the thick of organising the EndSARS Rebellion in their communities. And well before that rebellion, they had been at the fore of challenging police brutality, including extra-judicial killings.
Abdul-Rafiu Ismail Olalekan (Mc Vocal) is running in Oyo state for the Ibadan North constituency’s seat. Ismaeel Oladare Ogunsola is equally running on the AAC platform for the Ibarapa North constituency. These two comrades have been at the forefront of several struggles of working-class people and youth for justice in the state and beyond.
They played central roles in the EndSARS Rebellion and did not go to sleep after that. They have put in their time, efforts, and resources to help secure the release of several EndSARS detainees, including the #Oyo11.
Faith Yaasa is the AAC candidate for the Makurdi South seat at the Benue State House of Assembly. She is a revolutionary feminist, disability rights activist, and community organiser. The police have hounded her, arrested her, and tortured her for her politics which, as she said, “is rooted in activism.” But she has been unbending in her resolve that a better world is worth fighting for.
She has faced discrimination, and she has been mocked for being a woman, an able person with disability, and a revolutionary running on the platform of “an unknown party” as less conscious people describe parties that do not fall into the categories of big capitalist parties of our oppressors.
However, with the leadership she has provided over the years, she has won concessions for poor people living with disabilities in Benue state. And she can do more as a legislator in the state, even whilst she aims to change the entire system of oppression that makes the poor dependent on the “goodwill” of those on power, to live.
In lieu of a conclusion: AAC, the party for revolution
For AAC and its candidates, what is at stake on Saturday is much more than merely the seats that they are contesting to win. It is a step forward in the struggle to build the critical mass and raise the popular consciousness for the revolution which we must lead, to win our self-emancipation as working-class people and youth.
There are those that might gloat that the party they represent is “unknown” as Faith rightly put such words, or even add the question “how many votes were you allocated in the wake of 25 February?” But they lose sight of several important points.
First, that AAC could rally itself for the general elections, with so many candidates, is a testament to the strength and fighting spirit of the party and its cadres. Realising the revolutionary threat AAC poses to it, the ruling class did everything it could to destabilise, undermine and destroy the party, to no avail.
Shortly after the 2019 elections, Omoyele Sowore, the party chair was arrested and detained. Things did not end there. Renegades on what was the party’s right-wing, who had been expelled for fraud and anti-party activities, were used by the state to launch a usurpation and take over the party.
The Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) recognised this faction as the de jure party. The real party fought this on the streets and in the courts. It won only on 2 June 2022. Meanwhile, the deadline for party primaries to nominate candidates for the 2023 elections was 9 June 2022. But the party met this deadline, and today we have the 170 revolutionary flag bearers across seventeen states, whom we urge you to vote for on 18 March.
Second, the other parties on the ballot, from A-Z, and their candidates, are not interested in the total liberation of working-class people and youths. They all represent the degenerate capitalist system and the bosses whom this system benefits, whilst it makes life worse for us, we the 99%.
Third, we, the exploited and oppressed working people cannot win at the ballots, that which we have not yet won on the field of revolutionary struggle. We must fan the embers of revolts in our resistance, to burst the flames of revolution. Electoral victory for AAC candidates on 18 March would place tribunes for this cause in the heart of their state, i.e., the governance structure that the exploiters use to oppress us, and which the working masses must tear down to liberate themselves and build a better society.
If you stand for breaking the chains that have weighed us down for decades, if you want to overthrow the exploiters and be part of the history of our self-emancipation as working-class people and youth, come 18 March, Vote AAC, all the way!
by Baba AYE