Editorial postscript: the war in Iraq and the Nigerian Elections

An update on the main editorial, concentrating mainly on the recent April elections.

This latest edition of the Workers' Alternative contains a compilation of our statements and commentaries on a series of events that occurred much earlier in the year nationally and internationally. The attempt of this editorial postscript is to briefly update our comments where necessary and give a guide to the inner contents of the paper. Major events have taken place, nationally and internationally between the period when some of the major articles in this edition of the paper were written and now.

Chiefly among these are two events: the US led imperialist war against Iraq and the general elections in Nigeria.

The war against Iraq

The war against Iraq has subsequently brought into the open the real motivation and agenda behind the war. As perfectly outlined in the special comments we made before and during the war, the real intention for the US-led attack on Iraq is an apparent desire to control Iraq's crude oil and gain an avenue to further assert the might of the all-imposing American war machine.

Just as we had commented in the aforementioned statements written prior to the war and the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the US-British coalition forces intervention has led to mass human causalities - maimed and dead; unprecedented destruction of physical properties and an American - inspired looting of Iraq's treasured antiquities among others. More importantly, no definite evidence yet exists to reveal the presence of the greatly publicized chemical weapons. The war, in spite of the fall of Saddam's regime, cannot be justified.

Crisis in Nigeria Polity

On Nigeria, our perspective as outlined elsewhere in the paper has mostly been vindicated. The socio-economic crisis continues unabated: prices of goods and services are on the rise, salaries of workers are not paid promptly, some are owed as much as six months. Many remain jobless, social tension and insecurity remain entrenched and all these are occurring while we have a parasitic ruling class and highly corrupt politicians who have continued to run down the economy. We continue to suffer in the midst of plenty.

Another graphic view of the crisis is the shortage of petroleum products in the country, which is a major producer of petroleum in the world, and where there exist four major refineries that could adequately supply more than enough for the country's consumption, if only they were functioning to capacity. But the situation of fuel shortages has revealed the fact that for four years the Obasanjo-led regime has not fundamentally resolved the crisis of scarcity of fuel - the major energy propeller of the economy. This situation is however a direct product of the regime's wholesale agenda of privatizing the refineries, which is a major reason why the refineries have not been suitably repaired. Since the cost of repair may not be recouped in the eventual sale of the refineries. 

The prodigal son's agenda of privatization is further enumerated in detail in the inner articles of this edition of the paper. On the other hand, extra billions of Naira have been spent in importing fuel, these extra costs in importation would, however, be more than enough to put the refineries fully back to work. In other words, huge profits from importation goes to the government appointed importers of petroleum products, at such a high cost to ordinary Nigerians.

The April General Elections

The outcome of the recent general elections in April 2003 has further brought to fore the reality that the Nigerian polity remains in the custody of the looting capitalist class. The elections have brought no change in the character of the elected.
The campaigns prior to the elections were mostly non-issue oriented. The major actors, particularly the leading parties, the PDP, ANPP and the AD, were not inspiring in their campaigns, except for the fact that there was a major appeal to ethnic and regional chauvinism.

The election outcome speaks volumes about the ethnic conflict; with the incumbent General Olusegun Obasanjo (a former military head of state) of the PDP receiving the overwhelming majority of votes in his Yoruba southwestern states and General Mohammed Buhari (another former head of state) scoring the majority of the votes in the core northern states. The major casualty of the three parties was the AD, who lost five of its six states to Obasanjo's PDP. This is however a self undoing of the AD Afenifere group, which is made up of rabid opportunists who hide under the reactionary slogan of Yoruba chauvinism while carrying out several anti-worker policies. The AD had previously entered into a pact with Obasanjo to support him for another term at the expense of not fielding its own presidential candidate. The bitter outcome is their loss and the gain of the PDP in the southwest.

On the other hand, the PDP and the ANPP are no better in any form than the AD. The new and the old political actors are one and the same. They belong to the same order and will turn out the same way albeit more brutally in the coming period.

The election of another PDP government centrally is a product of many factors. For one, the electorate did not have prominent or seemingly inspiring alternatives to the PDP. There was apparently nothing to choose between Obasanjo and Buhari. The new parties that were newly registered are no match in all forms, of logistics and resources, to the existing ones. Even those, like the National Conscience Party (NCP), led by the radical lawyer Gani Fawehinmi, which appeals to some layers of the working populace, especially a layer of the change-seeking youth, soon found out the reality on the political terrain.

Another reason for the outcome is the all-revealing fact, cum accusation, that the PDP s a better master of the act of election rigging, which is a process that begins with multiple voters' registration, multiple voting and stuffing/changing ballot boxes, including direct manipulation of the collated results by its agents and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. This scenario actually applies to all the other major parties (ANPP, AD etc). It was just that the best rigger carried the day.

The role of the NLC leadership

Another major factor is the class collaborationist role of the leadership of the Nigerian Labour congress, NLC, who openly expressed political solidarity with the ruling PDP. Adams Oshiomhole, the NLC president came to solidarize with Obasanjo at his official declaration to contest for the new term in office and recently expressed solidarity for PDP governor Ibori of Delta at a well publicized pre-election rally in honour of Ibori. The way and manner that the NLC has gone with the 12.5-25% increment in salary in order not to rock the PDP government is also evidence to this treacherous political solidarity.

The NLC, which incidentally has a political party, the Party for Social Democracy, PSD, registered along with the other newly formed political parties, refused to mobilize the workers into the party, a development that is mostly desired by the workers. In other words, the NLC bureaucracy killed its own party in order not to create confusion for the PDP.

Post election Expectations

Meanwhile, the recent victory of Obasanjo at the polls, will undoubtedly be interpreted by the ruling elites as a mandate to continue to implement the various anti-worker and anti-poor, IMF-inspired agenda of privatization and cuts in social spending, as is being experienced in education, health, road construction, etc. Hence, the future is certainly bleak for the vast majority of the populace.

However, notwithstanding the seemingly overwhelming victory of Obasanjo in most parts of the country, the reading is certainly not a mandate by Nigerians for another tortuous four years. Unlike in 1999, when the military left, Nigerians are not ready to accept this any longer. There is bound to be an immediate fightback against all the mis-policies of the regime.
In such convulsions, new realities will come to the fore. The Nigerian workers will discover the need to build their own independent political platform based on the trade unions, based on a socialist programme of collective ownership of the means of production, social welfare, free and qualitative education, health, etc. Here lies the only path of progress away from the present barbaric situation that pervades the country.

May 2003