January 31, 2017
Urgent Plan and Mobilization Needed to Make the Protest a Reality
Over the past few days, social media platforms have been agog over popular Nigerian artiste, Tuface (Innocent Idibia) call for massive nationwide protest on Sunday February 5, 2017. The spontaneous popularity enjoyed by the call shows the intense anger and frustration brewing within society at the gross failure of the Buhari/All Progressive Congress (APC) government which has succeeded in turning the glowing expectations of the people into disappointment within the space of barely 2 years.
According to the statement posted on his Instagram page “We the people of this country not living under the privileges of government allowances and remuneration have now accepted to take the bull by the horn to come out and protest this obnoxious and baseless policies and excuses of the government of the day”.
This is “A call for good governance. A call for urgent explanation into the reckless economic downturn nationwide. A call for nationwide protests as we say No to the Executive, No to legislatures, No to judiciary… You have all failed us. We the people are tired. We can no longer continue with all of you. All your excuses and mistakes are not funny. We do not wish to continue with a system and government that is not working but afflicting the people”.
Since this statement announcing the protest was posted online, a few other musical celebrities have reportedly endorsed it. This is aside countless number of people who have retweeted and shared the post several times thus making the call a major trending topic on social media.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) fully endorses this call. At this period of intense hardship, only mass struggle can begin to challenge and roll back the unrelenting assault on our living standards. We fully agree with the statement that the entire Buhari government has failed the working class and poor masses. However, the PDP and all other capitalist parties are equally guilty.
While the previous PDP/Jonathan government set the economy onto the path of a recession through mind-boggling corruption and looting of the proceeds of the oil boom, the Buhari government working within the confines of a failed capitalist system has helped to deepen the economic crisis the more. This he succeeded in doing by implementing measures that not only unleash the consequence of the crisis on those who benefitted nothing during the boom (e.g. working people, middle class, poor and ordinary Nigerians) but that would also ensure that even if growth picks up at some point in future, millions of people will continue to live in conditions of depression for many years to come.
Unfortunately, since the last one week that the announcement of the protest was made, there has been no further details released about how the protest is going to take place, where protesters would gather and of course what the demands should be. This has unfortunately created an element of confusion with many asking what they are meant to do on February 5.
The ERC calls on the organizers to urgently update the public about plans for the protest as well as gathering points in key cities and communities that the protests are meant to take place. This will go a long way to energize the mass of the people who are already primed for action. Perhaps for reasons of safety given the government penchant for repression the organizers may wish to keep further details of the planned protest secret. However the ERC feels that while safety is important, this should not now undermine the ability to effectively communicate important details of the protest as well as plans for wide mobilization.
In conclusion, the current development is an indictment on the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). That musical celebrities like Tuface have to call for nationwide protest is because the labour leadership have failed to play their roles as the historical and traditional leaders of the struggles of the working class and oppressed masses. Instead of calling for strikes and mass actions, all the NLC and TUC have been doing is issuing harmless statements threatening actions that never take place. Meanwhile the conditions of hardship in which majority of Nigerians are wallowing continue to grow worse every day. There is a similarity between the current situation and that which existed in January 2012 when the working masses and youth were already on the streets across the country protesting the hike in pump price of fuel by the Jonathan/PDP administration before the NLC and TUC was able to call an indefinite general strike starting from January 9, 2012. So bad is the situation in the labour movement that leadership of labour often lag behind the consciousness of their own members and the mass of working people outside of the unions.
Meanwhile, the enormous popularity that Tuface’s call for a nationwide protest has enjoyed shows that there is a developing mood for a fight back. People are tired of the situation and most especially the fact that nothing is being done by labour and civil society organizations. This should therefore be a wakeup call on the leadership of the NLC and TUC to act now. In its January 1st statement, the NLC had threatened that it would no more be able to guarantee industrial peace by May 1st if the national minimum wage is not reviewed. The current situation however shows that people are not prepared to wait till May 1st before fighting back not just on minimum wage but on all the other issues that affects all categories of working class and poor people. Therefore, the struggle must start now.
The ERC demands that an emergency meeting of the principal organs of the NLC and TUC to discuss the economic crisis and the intense hardship under which Nigerians are growing with a view to rolling out immediate plans of actions that would include a general strike and mass protest to begin the struggle to liberate the working people from the shackles and manacles of capitalism which is behind the failure and inability of the Buhari/APC administration to make any positive difference in the last 18 months. Most importantly labour urgently need to come out with a plan to build an alternative working peoples political party to fight for political power. This is because the failure of the Buhari administration is first and foremost a failure of capitalism and only the building of a socialist alternative can open the way for resolving the political and economic crisis afflicting Nigeria.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Ibukun Omole
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary