NIGERIA: BUILDING A MASS SOCIALIST PARTY – THE CHALLENGES AND FUTILITY OF SHORTCUTS

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Comrade Kazy, April 30, 2021.


The first great step of importance for every country newly entering into the movement is always the organization of the workers as an independent political party, no matter how, so long as it is a distinct workers’ party.” — Friedrich Engels, 1886

THE PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS

The most urgent task in Nigeria today is the task of building a mass party of the working class that is resting on the trade unions and with a socialist programme. This task has been on even before Nigeria, that is, before the Nigerian independence.

The first remarkable attempt was the formation of Socialist Workers and Farmers Party of Nigeria (SWFPN). This party was formed by socialist youths like Tunji Otegbeye and radical labour leaders like Wahab Goodluck and was registered in 1964. The party didn’t survive as a result of wrong Stalinist ideology of Two-Stage theory and class collaboration. Instead of maintaining absolute class independence, the leadership of the party was desperately looking for radical wing of the bourgeoisie which was not in existence. They dissolved the party into the so-called progressive bourgeoisie party. This mistake was what put an end to that experiment.

There was another attempt in 1989 by the leadership of labour and some radical left to form Nigerian Labour Party. Unfortunately, this party was not registered by the then Banbangida regime, which only registered two political parties, Nigerian Republican Party (NRC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP). The leadership immediately dissolved the Nigerian Labour Party into the Social Democratic Party(SDP), without any resistance.

The last attempt was made in 1992, when the Nigerian Labour Party was formed by the right-wing leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) so as to checkmate the growing pressure from the minority left-wing leadership and socialists already mobilizing for an independent working class party with a socialist program. The party later became the political vehicle for failed bourgeois politicians who made the party repulsive to the rank and file of the working class.

THE RENEW AND GROWING MOOD FOR A MASS PARTY OF THE WORKING CLASS

The need to form the mass party of the working class on a socialist programme has now returned to the front burner. This is majorly because of the inability of the Nigerian ruling elite and their political parties to resolve any of the fundamental problems facing the Nigerian workers and the poor.

The situation today is that, the established bourgeois political parties, PDP and APC that have run the country for years and have imposed obnoxious economic policies that further push the mass majority of the Nigerian working class and the poor into abject poverty have had their base of support massively eroded. There is therefore a desperate search for a political alternative, but unfortunately, the leadership of labour has completely failed to offer a genuine alternative to the current political rot. What we consequently have now is a huge political vacuum.

Imagine that there was a mass party of the working class and the poor in magnificent mass movement of 2012, there would not have been APC in the first instance. Imagine also that such a party existed in 2020 ENDSARS YOUTH MOVEMENT, the hegemonic rule of the Nigerian Ruling class would have been history by now.

In the absence of this, all the heroic movement have always been ending up in one defeat or deceit.

HOW NOT TO

The labour leadership’s refusal to offer a credible political alternative, with a platform and programme in the interest of the masses, has left room for all sorts of outfits trying to fill this vacuum that has been created. Most significant of this is the formation of the Socialist Party of Nigeria.

The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.” (The Communist Manifesto)

From the organisers of this party, we heard, the primary intention of forming this party is to show an example to the mass of the working class. In other words, this is nothing more than an attempt “to shape and mould the proletarian movement”. this runs contrary to what we read in the communist manifesto quoted above. This is nothing more than lack of confidence in the capacity of the working class. The working class has over and over demonstrated its capability to build its organization as at when necessary but in each time get betrayed by its own leadership.

A mass party of the working class that is resting on the trade unions, with a socialist programmer, cannot be formed by simply declaring oneself as that party as the SPN has done, irrespective of the real forces one has on the ground. Small formations, such as the SPN, with very small available forces and resources, cannot artificially wished itself into existence, its size and resources can only be sufficient for campaigning for such a party.

T-PAPS INITIATIVE

It is in line with this that, we give a critical support to the “THE PEOPLE ALTERNATIVE POLITICAL SUMMIT” (T-PAPS) initiative.

Ordinarily, the demand for the formation of the mass party of the working class with a socialist programme ought to be put on the head of the leadership of the working class. But, unfortunately, the extent of degeneration and compromise of the leadership of labour currently has reached a level where the mere putting of demands on their heads will no longer be sufficient, we need to rather proceed to put enormous pressure on the leadership through aggressive campaign within the rank and file of the working class.

This was obviously recognized by T-PAPS at the summit and also managed to appear in its communique, but its capability to push this through is another thing entirely. There was not a clear cut political direction, most especially what to do with other smaller parties within the T-PAPS coalition.

The success or failure of this initiative depends solely on its seriousness in taking up this campaign for a mass working class political party resting on trade unions with a socialist programme among the rank and file of the working class and the poor.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE

Nigerian trade unions with over 5 Million organized members remain one of the largest in Africa and already built national spread. The experience of the past 22 years of this bourgeoisie democracy reveal that, to decisively confront the bourgeoisie electorally will require serious mobilization of both human and material resources which is only available within the organized trade unions. Moreover, the Nigerian ruling elite has over the years master the art of divide and rule along ethnic and religious line. To counter this poison requires an organization that has a national spread. The Nigerian trade unions have already achieved this. Therefore, we Nigerian marxists organised within CWA, strongly believe that to successfully build such a mass party of the working class, it must necessarily rest on the trade unions.

The road to such a party will not be quick, easy, or linear, but if we’re going to succeed in actually winning socialism in our lifetime, this is precisely the challenge we must accept. Campaign for Workers and Youth Alternative(CWA) is fully committed to this and will readily join hands with other left groups in Nigeria for this purpose.