As the February 14 elections draw nearer it becomes clearer that there are two classes of Nigerians; the rich who milk the country’s wealth and set it ablaze and the poor whom they see merely as milk cows and cannon fodder. Recent media reports that politicians and bosses of big businesses are moving their families abroad (particularly to the United States, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates) present a grave cause for concern in this direction. It is equally a pointer to the palpable possibility of severe national crisis in the wake of the elections.
United Action for Democracy denounces this flight of the rich whilst they contrive an inflammable conundrum for the poor. UAD equally finds it worrisome that thousands of “non-indigenes” have also had to relocate back to their states and zones of origin out of fear of the possible aftermath of February 14. These are evidently ominous signs. This is the time for working people and their organisations to stand up against the destructive manipulations of the ruling elites.
UAD was forged as the leading pan-Nigeria coalition of radical civil society organisations at a moment like this in 1997, then against military dictatorship. The civilian wing of the ruling class has proven itself to be little more democratic than the military that we fought tooth and nail against to reinstate the republic. Democracy goes beyond the right to vote in one section of the bosses or another. For it to have much meaning to the poor working masses, it must entail the building of popular structures of people’s power, through which workers, farmers, artisans, the urban poor, women, youth and all other strata of the immense majority of the population are central to the running of social life.
None of the leading parties in contention represents this concept of working people’s democracy which the UAD stands for. Their readiness (across party lines) to relocate their families out of harm’s way, while they stoke the embers of a catastrophe also shows their oft trumpeted “patriotism” for the ruse it is. They are not worth dying for.
The total lack of concern for the tragic loss of possibly 2,000 lives in Baga is a reflection of the politicians’ contempt for the lives of poor Nigerians. While President Goodluck Jonathan has remained shamefacedly mute, the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation has merely called for “soothing words of compassion and empathy” for the people of Baga and Borno state, in what appears basically as partisan brickbat.
UAD seeks a more cogent response to the Baga massacre and the war between Boko Haram and the Federal Government. Reports from affiliates and the State Chapter of the UAD in Borno state indicate that the situation is getting worse by the day. President Jonathan’s silence on the abduction of the Chibok Girls Secondary School pupils during his first visit (and obviously one intended to make electoral gains), since the abduction is for residents of Borno and indeed all well meaning persons a confirmation of the disdain of Nigeria’s “big men” and rulers for the poor.
Enough is definitely enough! Baga represents the prospects poor working people face as the rich gladiators battle for Aso Rock in a few weeks time. We must refuse to be deceived into lining up behind the backs of any of them to kill fellow poor people irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or partisan affiliation. The most cogent response to the drumbeats of war that politicians are beating but will choose not to dance themselves can come only from us; through our independent, united self-activity based as working people.
UAD affiliates and State Chapters across the country have been mandated to work closely with trade unions and other civil society organisations to build this popular response from below, against the machinations of the bosses and politicians. We must have no illusions, dark clouds lie ahead. But if we, the masses, whose labour creates the social wealth, stand united, we will weather the storm and bring to birth a new Nigeria from the ashes of the old. Indeed, a new and better Nigeria is possible!