We of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemn the recent postponement of the 2015 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission at the instance of the Nigeria’s military authorities. We hold that it completely begs the question for INEC to postpone the elections by six weeks on the basis of the Boko Haram insurgency that the government has been unable to resolve for more than five years! We condemn the apparent use of the military by the Jonathan government to interfere in the electoral process.
We view the empty arguments employed in postponing the elections as a deep reflection of the ineffectiveness of the Independent National Electoral Commission as it not really “independent” but subject to the dictate of any section of the capitalist ruling elite. We hold that this validates our argument that INEC is subject to the whims and caprices of the occupants of power, a fact which cannot be removed from the unfair and unjust manner with which INEC failed to register the SPN, despite meeting all known requirements of law.
While we recognize the fact it is security challenges in the North-east that was given as the reason for the postponement of the election, we strongly condemn the shoddy preparation of the INEC for the elections. Given the number of the electorate, put at about 20 million, that have not got their permanent voters card, inadequate training of adhoc electoral officers and non-conduct of on-the-field test-run of the card readers, the elections could have been a failure if they had not been postponed.
We are however totally opposed to all the advocates of interim government of two years for President Jonathan and demand no extension for the Jonathan regime. We demand that the elections should be held in spite of the fact that the failure of the labour movement leadership to form and build a formidable mass working people political alternative has forced the working masses and the poor to choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea in the polls. This will mean that many will not vote. However despite this lack of real choice in these elections we are totally opposed to any erosion of the democratic rights of the working people, including their suffrage rights under any guise. We are strongly opposed to any strategy by the current Jonathan regime to compromise the elections in a bid to extend its tenure or pave way for a right-wing military intervention.
We are not surprised that the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) could not mobilise any mass resistance against this “coup” against the so-called democratic process as it does not genuinely represent that yearnings and aspiration of the working people and youths. We hold that the seeming popularity of Muhammodu Buhari among a section of the masses is as a result of the failure of the labour movement to present a mass working people political alternative to the working masses seeking to change the Jonathan government for its monumental failure. It is instructive to stress here that there is no fundamental difference between Buhari and Jonathan as the both subscribe to the same anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist policies.
We call on the leadership of the labour movement to reject further extension of the polls and tenure extension for the Jonathan, and demand that the elections must not be compromised under any condition. To this defence of democratic rights must be added to a clear programme of fighting for economic and social demands including but not limited to a national minimum wage increase, opposition to mass retrenchment and demand for decent jobs. The trade union centres, Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and pro-working class organisations, the Joint Action Front (JAF) must be prepared to lead mass protests to raise these demands before, and after, the elections while giving a warning to the Jonathan regime not to toy with the democratic rights of the working people.
We hold that the current period only further vindicates our call in the SPN that it is high time the labour movement formed and built a genuine mass working people political alternative in direct opposition to all the main contending anti-poor parties. On the opening day of this week’s NLC 11th Quadrennial conference the former NLC President Adams Oshiomhole told the delegates NLC that “As we approach the national elections NLC’s voice must be loud and clear on issues.” That is right, Labour and the poor need their own political voice, but Oshiomhole himself abandoned attempting to build a working peoples’ party to become an APC politician. Against this approach we argue that the independent working class political movement should be hinged on a programme that is against capitalist policies and for democratic working class control of the commanding heights of the economy.
We of the SPN will deepen the campaign for this programme within the broader labour movement and will combine it with continuing our current battle for the registration of the SPN by the Independent National Electoral Commission. We call on workers, youth and the poor to join us in achieving this task.
*No to interim government! No tenure extension for Jonathan! Hold general elections now! Mass Protests to reject attack on democratic rights!
*No illusions in Buhari and the All Progressives’ Congress! For a genuine mass party of the workers, youth and the poor!
*For the trade unions to demand fresh minimum wage increase! No to mass retrenchment! For decent jobs!
*No to Privatisation! For labour movement to proffer alternative agenda of common ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under a democratic control of the working people!
*Build an independent political movement of the working people! Time for a mass movement against all sections of the looters! Fight for a working people’s government on socialist program now!