Introduction It is appropriate to begin this discourse on the note of singing the “Victory Song” to the glory of Mayibuye (mother) Afrika. There is Victory for us There is Victory for us In the struggle for Afrika There is Victory for us Forward ever, Backward never In the struggle for Afrika There is Victory Nigerians do not deserve to suffer in the face of abundant human and material resources. Nigeria needs a leadership that is committed to the people. We need leadership not rulers that indulge in deception of a country having about $63 billion in foreign reserves, yet under the weight of global neo-liberalism, our local industries are collapsing and alarmingly being converted into worship centres to “manufacture prayers”.
It is within this context that in my capacities as the Executive Secretary of Kolagbodi Memorial Foundation (KMF), Convener of United Action for Democracy (UAD) and Secretary of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) that we generally congratulate the working people in Nigeria and specifically the Textile Union for the support, solidarity and commitment to the emergence of one of our best in the movement, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the Edo State Governor. We congratulate the Textile Union and Labour for producing Oshiomhole as a rallying point in this era of struggle to rescue and redeem our country from the bands of looters, political assassins, and “armed robbers of democrazy. Comrade Adams and the Textile Union are to us the same way that Imoudu and the Railway Union were the beacon in the anti-colonial and post independence struggles in Nigeria .
At every occasion of protest marches and programmes by LASCO, your members have been the most reliable in terms of prompt attendance, active participation, material contributions and solidarity. We hope other unions would emulate these leadership qualities because of its implication for strengthening the Labour movement and as a testimony of values we can add to our society and the difference comrades should make in the political leadership of our country. In my congratulatory text message to Comrade Adams shortly after the Edo State Election Petition Tribunal ruling on March 20th, 2008, I said: “This victory epitomizes the struggle of the Labour movement since1940s. It atones for the sacrifices of our struggle for true liberation. The boy killed in the presence of his father and others by PDP thugs didn’t die in vain. Adams , you should not disappoint.
A government founded on the needs and aspirations of the people is our demand”. It would be interesting having one of us being part of the ‘decision-making’ meetings to engage other governors and the presidency internally on those bad policies before we complement it with street battles. We must be fulfilled that we have won one of the hardest fought victories in our struggle for true liberation of the Nigerian society. This particular victory has rekindled the hope of the exploited and oppressed working people in Nigeria and all over the world for a credible leadership. Comparing Adams to Obama – Missing the point? In the very first messages of congratulation I received after the Appeal Tribunal upheld the justice on the mandate invested in Adams Oshiomhole as the duly elected Governor of Edo State; it reads: “Adams is the Obama of Nigeria”. Some viewpoints I read in most national dailies have also expressed similar sentiments. There were other views that ascribed the victory to the “rule of law” or “triumph of democracy”; in the same way in which members of the anti-democratic ruling elites that have been responsible for the backwardness and underdevelopment of our society are singing praises of Obama.
However, since we live, as Joe Slovo once warned, “in troubled times, theories and basic concepts are potential casualties, they need be jealously guarded”; it is germane we put in proper perspective the implication of the Adams ’ victory. Obama’s emergence is contained within the American dreams of global exploitation and dominance on politics and economy. If Obama were to live in Nigeria or Kenya (his father’s origin), he would at best be accommodated and promoted by the Nigeria State to the level of the Jerry Gana, Julius Ihonvbere, Ndidi Elumelu, etc. But Nigeria State has no dream other than backwardness and looting. Obama’s senior in scholarship and excellence – Ngugi Wa Thiongo (African foremost literary writer) was haunted, detained, brutalized and exiled out of Kenya for his revolutionary activism.
Obama was not a product of the tradition of the black and African-American liberation struggles that had such giants as Nat Turner, Frederick Douglas, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, Angela Davis, George Jackson, etc. Unlike Obama, Adams was a product of the Nigerian liberation struggle coming from the long chains of the Imoudu, Nduka Eze, Wahab Goodluck, Raji Abdallah, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Gambo Sawaba, Margaret Ekpo, Said Zungur, etc. Adams led us in protest and rallies across the country and millions of Nigerians turned out. At the peak of one of those major resistance against perennial fuel prices hike in October 2003, the Obasanjo dictatorship accused him of forming a parallel government because the people refused the Obasanjo’s orders, and obeyed the one declared by Adams led LASCO to stay at home until the fuel prices hike were reversed.
Have we forgotten so soon that Adams was vilified and dragged by Obasanjo security agents on the tarmac of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport , Abuja . Several black’s best have been undermined by the American imperialist establishment. The credit to Obama is that he excelled against the best the American establishment can showcase today. For Africa, Obama victory is a psychological boost, and his “campaign of change” will remain a slogan if his presidency of America is a mere change in the styles of exploitation, aggression and dominance of the rest of humanity by the America establishment. Obama is in government in America not in power. But in Edo State today, Labour is in power. That is the import of Adams ’ victory. We are not in power because of the phony “rule of law” and “democrazy”.
What Adams has done for us was to have proved through the April 14, 2007 Governorship election in Edo State that Nigerians believe in the struggle of Labour for the social transformation of our society. Therefore, the victory in Edo State belongs to the working people. It is power to the people. Let’s show the Adams in us to spread the gospel of Labour across the land. The Settlement Syndrome or Social Development: What option? We have become so much accustomed to lies and false promises that once a moment of truth emerges, we tremble. The unjust system has so much afflicted all facets of our existence be it - politics, socio-economic, culture, laws, human rights, religion, community affairs, collective bargaining, etc to the extent that almost everyone has a price for settlement. It is either settlement with stolen mandates or access to loot public funds.
That explained the Edo State NLC abandoned the Labour constituency to kowtow before the defunct Professor Osunbor’s illegitimate rein in Edo State . In the process of the settlement syndrome over the years, public goods and values have been destroyed; and pretences to developmental agenda have gained prominence. Only cadres and products of the struggle who are concerned about what we can do for our people and our children in terms of access to education, health, shelter, etc, can propel us to social development. Those who are prepared for sacrifices are the ones required to get us development. In the realization that youths and the working people are the strength to drive the process of change, there is the need for us to apply our self to liberation education and knowledge which teach correct history and the socio-economic realities of life.
Facing the Critical Challenge: Time for Rhetoric Shall Come! This victory is a critical challenge that we have a lot of work to do. We need to redouble our commitment to the restructuring and strengthening of the Labour Party and LASCO as the platforms to protect and advance the collective interests and aspirations of Nigerians. Adams’ failure is ours, we cannot afford to fail. Our victories will become sweeter the more impact we are able to make in the lives of our people. - Defining the Alternative Agenda: education, health, infrastructure (corporate responsibility), policy initiatives (all children of school age to compulsorily be in school), advocacy (FG projects in the state), participatory budgeting (project conception, funding and action plans), etc. - Documentation - Monitoring - Intelligence - Volunteer and community works - Organizing the people and their organizations towards social development - Building and Organizing the Labour Party across the country for resistance against the unjust system, and electoral contest.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters