Wednesday, 26 August 2015


By Ayo Ademiluyi
Quite recently, the Ayuba-Wabba-led faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) held its inaugural National Executive Committee meeting on 6th August, 2015. In published advertorials in widely-read Nigerian newspapers, the Wabba-led NLC NEC communicated resolutions reached at the meeting (see Guardian Newspaper, Friday, 14th August, 2015).

On the failure of some state governments to pay the salaries of their workers, the NEC absolved the Federal Government of blame and ascribed the failure to “mismanagement and wrong prioritization” by the State Governors. It resolved to
“mobilise industrial union Presidents and General Secretaries to all the states owing three or more months in salaries, to ensure that indebted states are compelled to pay workers their legitimate earnings”. This is nothing but running away from mobilizing a properly-organised national mass action of workers both in affected states and nationally against these culpable Governors. It is equally a grand attempt to embark on piecemeal actions at the face of an iceberg!

On minimum wage, the Wabba-led NEC observed that the Minimum Wage Act 2011 has reached its statutory five-year mark for review and it mandated its national leadership to propose a new minimum wage to the Federal Government for negotiation by the tripartite constituents of government, employers and organized labour. It would be recalled that the Joe-Ajaero-led NLC has already proposed a N90,000 new minimum wage, but it has not advanced a clear strategy on how it intend to fight for it.

The Wabba-led NLC NEC also resolved for a “National Day of Action against Corruption and for Good Governance” and mandated its national leadership to mobilise for it as a “one-day national protest march” which will be “simultaneously across the country”.  It also stated that the aim of the national protest march is  to “draw attention of …(the) political leadership at all levels that ….we as a country….cannot put up with the recklessness of our political elite”. While it is appreciated that the workers’ movement return to the tradition of mass struggle, the perspective and strategy behind the upcoming national protest march   is also bereft of a comprehensive understanding of the fact that corruption is embedded in the overall capitalist system and that it is only when workers struggle collectively to overthrow capitalism that corruption can be ended. Socialists would participate in such a “national protest march” and challenge the labour leaders to call a 24-hour nationwide warning strike on unpaid salaries, massive looting and for a new national minimum wage.

On the political side, the Wabba-led NEC resolved to revitalize the Labour Party. However, the fact that the planned “holistic revitalization and revival of the party” is based on the recent acquisition of the original certificate of the party from the former National Chairman of the Labour Party, Dan Iwuanyanwu also begs the question of how the “revitalization” can be achieved. It would be recalled that the Wabba-led NEC has given the said Original Ceritificate to the SalisuMuhammed-led Caretaker Committee, which was set up by the out-gone Abdulwaheed Omar’s leadership.

An overview of these resolutions raises important issues on the current state of the workers’ movement vis-a-vis the character of the current crop of labour leaders, especially under the current Buhari regime. Genuine socialists and working class activists need to engage these issues   in the overall interests of the working class movement.


Nothing exposes the nonchalant attitude of the current crop of labour leaders to the welfare of their rank-and-file than the spate of unpaid salaries that is ravaging workers in different states. While the Wabba-led faction, at first, which commands a large chunk of the public-sector trade unions ordered the state congresses in the respective states where the Governors were defaulting to undertake strikes on their own, it failed to provide a lead for a nationwide strike action that could have brought the full weight of the labour movement to bear on the issue.

The failure of a coherent nationwide mass mobilization against the defaulting Governors was also as a result of the negative impact of the disunity within the trade union movement based on the ego-tripping factionalisation   of the workers’ movement by the labour leaders. The factionalisation, in itself is another sad tale of the state of the workers’ movement in Nigeria, with shambolic labour leaders, who are not prepared to genuinely defend the interests of their rank-and-file members.

Recently, it was reported in the mass media that the issue of the unpaid salaries led to fresh attempts to find a united voice between the Joe-Ajaero and Wabba-led factions. It was even reported that as a result of the unification moves initiated by the labour veterans, there are plans to hold Joint National Executive Committees and Central Working Committees to plan joint actions. It remains another issue how far these efforts have yielded fruits, given the numerous attempts to unify the two factions after the crisis-ridden 11th National Delegates’ Conference, held earlier in February, 2015.   

However, it is clear that genuine socialists and working class activists must redouble the efforts to build cells of working class cadres within the rank-and-file of the workers’ movement with rounded-out revolutionary perspectives that can fight to reclaim the trade union movement as a united mass working class organization with a democratically-controlled and genuine leadership that can fight for the genuine interests of the working class people.

It is equally important, despite the prevarications of the leaderships of both factions of the Nigeria Labour Congress to build pressure from below with the call for a 24-hour nationwide strike action as the urgent and immediate step to force the defaulting Governors to pay their workers in their respective states. Such a one-day warning strike would serve an initial notice on the defaulting Governors that the entire labour movement would not take the struggle lightly.


Another crucial issue is the growing demand for a new national minimum wage. Given that the five-year period for the N18,000 minimum wage is due for renewal, it is also clear that the growing inflation rate has made the minimum wage a mincemeat.  While the Joe Ajaero-led faction has demanded a new N90,000 minimum wage, the Wabba-led faction has been mandated by its NEC to draw a proposal for a negotiation of a new national minimum wage for submission on the Federal Government.

What is missing from the statements and declarations of both factions is a clear and coherent strategy to fight for a new national minimum wage. The current N18,000 minimum wage has not been implemented by most state governments without any resistance mobilised by the labour leaders.

The current approach to the demand a new national minimum wage also shrinks of the lethargic approach of the labour leaders to waging a serious struggle on minimum wage.  A genuine struggle for a new national minimum wage would have to be devoid of illusions that the Federal and State Government would agree or implement it by law but by mass actions with the concurrent demand that no single worker should be retrenched by virtue of the new national minimum wage.


One other interesting development is the ongoing struggle for the control of the Labour Party between the Wabba-led faction and the Labour Party leadership. The NEC of the Wabba-led faction resolved to position the party to “articulate and advance  working class perspectives on the wider political and economic situation in the country”. This is pursuant to the receipt of the original certificate of registration of the party by the Wabba-led faction from Dan Iwuanyanwu, the former National Chairman of the party, which it has handed over to the SalisuMuhammed-led Caretaker Committee on Labour Party, instituted by the Omar leadership.

However, the Labour Party leadership, inaugurated at the last National Convention of the party has gone to town vowing to resist the takeover of the party by the Wabba-led NLC faction. It has correctly stated that it the democratically-elected leadership by the membership of the party and equally the leadership that is properly recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission. It also hinted that it will take out contempt proceedings against the Wabba-led NLC faction based on the fact that there is an ongoing court matter against the Salisu Muhammed faction and the Nigeria Labour Congress in particular.

Based on Nigerian electoral law that recognizes individual membership of political parties and does not accommodate affiliate membership, it remains a puzzle how far the Wabba-led faction can go in achieving its aim. Equally, the failure of the labour leaders to take up their allotted seats on the National Executive Committee of the party and mobilise their members into the Labour Party after registering the party deprive them of any serious base within the party that can constitute a numerical challenge in the National Convention of the party, which elected the present national leadership of the Labour Party. Added to this is the fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission recognizes the present Labour Party leadership as such having  observed the National Convention which elected the current leadership in accordance with law.

Without holding brief for the Labour Party leadership, the astounding reality is that the Wabba-led faction is on a wild goose chase with its professed control of the party with the possession of the original certificate of registration of the party. In the given circumstances, where the Labour Party leadership presses its arguments before the court of law, the Wabba-led faction may find itself in a situation to either engage in an out-of-court settlement with the Labour Party leadership or surrender the original certificate of registration.

The most important issue to be drawn from the entire scenario is the reality of the challenge of building a genuine working people’s political alternative within the broader trade union movement. It is completely another  tale of the current state of the Labour Party and the character of the approach of the labour leaders towards it.

A genuine approach to build a genuine working people’s political alternative would entail a conscious mobilization of the rank-and-file of the workers’ movement on a clear programme to build a democratically-run political movement funded by the million of workers and not the millionaire looters that will bid for power on a socialist programme. The combustive events of the coming period would place this boldly on the agenda. While the opportunities to reclaim the Labour Party as such a genuine working class political movement is quite narrow, genuine socialists would keep up the campaign for such a genuine working people’s political alternative.

The Socialist Party of Nigeria, initiated by the Democratic Socialist Movement and other working class forces, when eventually registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, would serve as a “striking example” within the broader trade union movement of the genuine approach in building a wider genuine working   people’s political alternative. It will espouse a clear socialist programme and run working class candidates in elections without ties to big business and the bourgeois political elite. Those elected on the platform of SPN will earn working class wages, all elected and appointed members will live in the communitiesGenuine socialists, while battling for the registration of the Labour Party would continue the campaign for a genuine working people’s political alternative.


*To curb the menace of mass failure in exams like WASSCE requires adequate funding of public education and living wages for educational workers*

The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, Oyo State Chapter condemns the decision of the APC-led government in the state to stop the payment of the fee for the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for potential candidates in public secondary school in the state as well as the introduction of a sum of N3, 000 as developmental fees for students across public schools in the state.

This decision will no doubt increase the economic woes of workers and poor masses in the state. The population of parents for students in public schools in the state are largely public workers, retirees and poor traders and artisans who have been the victims of the various anti-people policies of Senator Abiola Ajimobi-led government right from its inception.

For instance, at present the APC-led government in Oyo state is owing  the public workers and retirees in state the payment of over 6months unpaid salaries and pensions despite the bailout fund recently approved and allegedly released to state government by the FG meant to offset the obligation. Thousands of shops/stalls belonging to poor artisans and petty traders in the state were also destroyed without either prior provision of alternatives or compensation by Senator Ajimobi-led government in the earliest part of the regime. This demolition which was carried out under a false pretence of urban renewal policy has denied many working class homes of their means of livelihood. 

 Considering the severity of economic hardships that have been unleashed on the working people by policies and programmes the APC-led regime in the state, SPN frowns at any decision to introduce any other unholy policy poised with potential to compound the burden of already overburdened poor people in the state. We therefore call for the immediate and unconditional reversal of this decision and insist on the need for adequate and proper funding of public education and other social services as the most reliable step towards curbing the menace of mass failure in external examination like WASSCE.

The argument of accusing students of not being serious as the main cause of mass failure in WASSCE and that such mass failure can only be curbed by the combine effect of re-introducing fee in public schools and making parents responsible for the payment of WASSCE fees of their children is unfounded. Poor academic performance of students in public schools is largely caused by the neo-liberal policies like cut in social spending on education, health care, infrastructure coupled with the commercialisation and privatisation of social services, forced by IMF and World Bank on the Nigeria government at all level regardless of political parties.

As a result of these policies, public schools are today bedevilled with inadequate facilities for proper learning, teaching and research such as books, laboratory, and equipment. Classrooms and hostel facilities are insufficient and dilapidated, qualify manpower are gross inadequate, Workers in the education sector are denied the incentives capable of encouraging improvement in their skill.

To reverse this trend will mean that government at all levels must comply with UNESCO recommendation which says that at least 26% of yearly budgetary allocation of any state or nation must be voted on education. Again, a body comprising elected representatives of students, educational workers, parents and government functionaries will be required to prevent whatever fund is pumped to the sector from being diverted or misappropriated.

SPN also believes that if the political office holders is placed on salaries and allowances equivalent to that of the civil servants, more public resources that often go to private individuals will be liberated thus make more resources available for the proper and adequate funding of education sector as well as other public utilities despite the decline in the oil revenue.

Abbey Trotsky
Secretary, SPN Oyo State