2023 GENERAL ELECTION (1): DEAD-END FOR “DEMOCRACY.”
• Working People Must Organized Independently to Dislodged the Ruling Class and Capitalism!
By Aj. Dagga Tolar.
There can be no deceiving the working people anymore that the country is on the course or that given additional time that any good fortune can come out of this fourth republic. The current bourgeois democracy being practised, with its “demonstration of craze/craze demonstration”, cannot in any way improve the lot and living conditions of the common people.
The mismanagement of the affairs of the country, its economy, social life and security has manifested in all spheres of life and impacted heavily on the living condition of the mass of the people. The economy is at its worst of state in decades, with an increasing debt profile of close to $100 Billion, if not more now.
In spite of the country’s abundant raw material and human resources for steel manufacturing, the sector is non-functional, electricity supply is at its most worst state, with the country unable to generate enough for domestic use and the national grid collapsing at regular intervals, plunging the country into total darkness; the sixth time in 2022. In spite of being one of the largest exporters of crude oil globally, the country cannot boast of just one functional refinery.
But for the approaching general elections in the country, and completely scared of unleashing the anger of the working masses against it, the Buhari regime would have gone ahead and announce increase in the pump price of fuel, as it balloons the bogey of fuel subsidy to unexpected heights. In place of that, there has been the twist and turns of fuel scarcity here and there with attendant implication for movement of goods and services.
Insecurity has now become a norm, with 3, 478 killed and 2, 256 abducted between December 2021 and now according to a report in the PUNCH newspaper, the Buhari regime’s hands are literally up in the air with the administration in a state of utter helplessness.
The utter neglect the working masses have suffered in all of their concerns and issues has been compounded by the rising incidents of kidnapping, raids on communities by bandits and other criminal acts that are setting the people against themselves along religious and ethnic divides. Can Nigerians therefore trust the Buhari regime with one of the worst records in the management of the affairs of the country to preside over an election that would not produce same of the same or even worse?
Already a review of the presidential flag bearers of the parties and how they emerged portends clear danger both to the fourth republic and to governance. Apart from not pretending to offer an alternative, or make any commitment whatsoever to break from the neoliberal capitalist bent of the Buhari regime, the large-scale monetisation of the party’s primaries, with tickets won by those with the highest bargaining power, is a clear indication of the continued entrenchment of the self-serving interest of the bourgeois and the entire ruling class. Their version of democracy is simply a game of power grab among the super-rich.
Tinubu or Atiku Same of the same Guaranteed to Maintain the Status Quo of Rot
Against all the odds and permutations Bola Ahmed Tinubu reputed to be one of the major financiers of the ruling party, the APC won the party’s presidential ticket for the 2023 general elections with 1,271 out of a total of 2,322 votes. With Buhari lately not choosing to bring to play the weight and financial muscle of the presidency in the APC primaries, the coast was clear for Tinubu to come out victorious.
The same Tinubu who supervised and managed the financial war chest of the APC in the last general election, bullion van backed and the major bourgeoisie power bloc in the south-west was also alleged to have offered $25, 000 each to delegates in a highly monetised contest.
He brushed aside Osinbajo the Vice President who it was rumoured also offered $5, 000 to delegates to be voted for and other aspirants in the party, which included the transportation minister and former governor of oil-rich Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, as well as Senate President, Ahmed Lawan who were alleged to have also offered $10, 000 to some of the delegates.
On the side of the major bourgeois opposition political party, the PDP, where Abubakar Atiku emerged as its presidential flag bearer, the situation was not any different. Delegates allegedly went away with a minimum of $50,000 each, with each of the aspirants, Atiku, Wike, Saraki, and Tambuwal doling out $20, 000, $15, 000, and $10, 000, $10, 000 respectively. One of the aspirants, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, had stepped down pointing to the fact that the process was “obscenely monetised”. The error must not be made that this is an aspirant’s affair.
The parties themselves did the same, with the APC collecting 100 million Naira from each of its 28 aspirants and PDP collecting 40 million Naira from its own 13 aspirants. THIS DAY newspaper gave a conservative estimated sum of “N30 billion” made by the APC alone from sales of form for all the primaries.
This is a clear indication that the right available to the working masses is the mere right to vote, the right to be voted for on a programme put forward by the working masses themselves to defend their interest will never see the light of day in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic.
To confirm it, the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deregistered pro-working people parties like the Socialist Party of Nigeria, with the Supreme Court affirming the same, despite the Constitution’s guaranteed democratic right of freedom of association. This is classic bourgeois democracy for all. Power is an organised syndicate that only members of the billionaires club can aspire to or whosoever they endorse.
They are resolute and unpretentious in their resolve to strengthen their grip on power, sustain neo-liberal policies of the capitalist ruling class and continuous privatisation and deregulation the economy. They hold the wealth and resources of the country exclusively to themselves through a looting spree and primitive accumulation of capital as opposed to using the same to develop the means of production and aiming to meet the needs and aspirations of the working masses.
So between an APC’s Tinubu and a PDP’s Atiku, one a former governor, the other a former Vice President with all of their bloated egos and desperation for power by all means; the country is set to witness a clash of two billionaires, a fist war of dollars, with all of the added unabashed disdain for the wellbeing of the working masses, outside of just requiring them to step out and vote. These two present themselves as of the same stock of the ruling class which has continued to nod and affirm their willingness to continue with the status quo of rot and hopelessness that the country is awash with.
Democracy for Sale
The recently held Ekiti Governorship election paints all of the pictures we should expect in the coming general election, with all of the major parties paying voters to come out to vote. These politicians knowing quite well that they are not seeking power with any intention to significantly improve the living conditions of the working masses, and as well as knowing that the masses are abreast of this fact, are left with no other choice than to draw them out with a bribe of cash.
With the widespread poverty, a country with no social protection scheme for the underprivileged or unemployed allowance for the army of the unemployed, for sure poverty has been turned into a weapon with which to capture a large layer of the poor who desperately sought to earn at least a meal for a day, if they come out to vote.
Within this logic of the need to survive by the poorest of the poor, this is the only time they would ever get anything from members of the ruling class when they need their vote. As if to confirm this cynical and contemptuous scheme of the ruling class, Tinubu the presidential flag bearer of the APC, in the campaign trail publicly says: “Vote to collect money. Whoever does not vote APC cannot collect money. If you don’t vote for APC, you will not collect money”.
This is the all of bourgeois democracy for the working masses in the neocolonial backwaters of capitalism in a country like Nigeria to merely vote, no more no less. And to do just that the ruling elites are willing to spend the cash to induce the electorate or better still spend the same to rig themselves to victory.
Yet even with all of the cash there available, the capacity of the ruling class to mobilise for elections is suspect. Ekiti again bears this out: voters’ turnout was clearly below average. With only 360,753 voters out of total registered voters of 988,923 turning up to participate in the election.
This was a huge drop of 17. 8% compared to the 2018 elections. So the winner Biodun Oyebanji of the APC polled votes of 187,057 amounts to a mere 18.9% of eligible voters, from a total percentage of 36.5% voters’ turnout. It follows therefore that the apathy continues, with 63.5% of voters uninterested in coming to the polling booth. A clear indication that the mass of the people have concluded that none of the parties is indeed worthy of the sweat on their brows.
The same picture can be gleaned from the November 11, 2021, Anambra governorship election where only 10% of the registered voters totalling 253,388 cast their votes for a total registered voters of 2, 466, 638 voters. While the working masses know what they don’t want and continue to vote with their bottom sitting at home, the fact remains that disengagement from politics would not on its turn things around.
Without I’ve involvement in politics by the working masses organising in their millions, building an independent political platform for themselves, with a socialist programme through which they can democratically nationalise the key sectors of the economy under the control and management of the working people, there is no route out of the cesspit into which the ruling class has pushed the country and the people.
The major aim of the mass of the people should be to dislodge the ruling class and bring an end to the capitalist-run economy. Only then will the current state of our affairs be transformed. This is the only way forward, which is why the MSA calls on workers, poor farmers, youth and students not to invest in another illusion of the possibility of either Tinubu or Atiku making a change. The task to rescue Nigeria cannot be for those who are responsible for putting it in this state of rot or for those who profit from keeping it in continuous paralysis. It is a task chiefly for the working masses.
Nor can we sow illusions in the possibility of Peter Obi, who is currently like Buhari in 2015 enjoying the same manner of fervent support among a growing layer of youths and change seekers in the possibility of him as president rescuing the country from being shipwrecked by the failure at governance by the ruling class.