The Movement for A Socialist Alternative (MSA) welcomes the decision of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on a nationwide protest to stop the anti-workers schemes of capitalist politicians to move minimum wage as a legislative item from the exclusive list to the concurrent list. In pursuit of this, a nationwide protest march has been declared for Wednesday, March 10, in all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, as part of the preparation, mobilization and sensitization of members of the public for the strike action. 

We must not forget that changing to the current minimum wage required a gigantic struggle on the part of the trade unions and workers before the government could agree on the figure of N30, 000. Even at that, the labour leaders bent backwards from a figure of N65, 000 that reflected the rate of inflation. While supporting the protest march, it must be clear to the labour leaders that the united action of the work-force in the country is needed to reverse the current attempt to legislate wage slavery into being through the back-channel of legislative processes. The NLC and the TUC must work in unison and immediately set a date for a 48 hour General Strike as the next step following the protest march.

The ruling elites are acting in defence of capitalism and their insatiable greed for profit. They wish to unload on the suffering and toiling masses the burden of the failure of their ruinous system, which proved incapable of shielding the economy from the shock-effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.  

We hope that the labour leaders would garner a huge lesson herein that the strength of the working masses is the numbers and united force of the working masses, and will not this time around carry out a half-hearted struggle as was the case in September last year, when it called off a General strike on the 11th hour, only to come out with a negotiated agreement that has since been invalidated with more increases in the pump prices of fuel and electricity tariff. If anything the frustration of this failure of the labour leaders to provide the needed leadership to the anger of the working masses still hangs like an albatross in the air. This is why the MSA completely welcomes this turn around to struggle by the NLC and enjoins all workers to understand that only their united action can in reality stop the ruling elites from going on with this disastrous plan to further enslave the working masses and condemn workers in the country further into poverty, to guarantee profits for the capitalist through the exploitation of the sweat and toil of the working people. 

These attempts by the National Assembly to move minimum wage as a legislative item from the exclusive list to the concurrent list must be rejected by workers. This will in effect mean that the era of a single federal minimum wage, backed by federal law that all states should observe, will be destroyed; state governments under this arrangement will determine what to pay as a minimum wage with little or no regard to the economic problems of workers that do not vary according to states. The MSA expresses its strong solidarity and support for Nigerian workers and sees victory for this cause if workers struggle consistently till the very end. 

The NEC of the NLC has also resolved to oppose the attempt to decentralise the judiciary by creating states’ judicial service commissions through the protest. This is an act of great foresight. The governors who are sponsoring these bills through proxies only seek to accumulate powers they cannot be trusted to wield right, considering their collective antecedents. If the State governors succeed and become responsible for the funding and promotion of judicial officers, then justice could come at the mercies of governors, who will stop at nothing to manipulate it against trade unions or union officers. It is hard to imagine the fate of the common man under a dispensation that gives the power of life and death of the judiciary onto the governors. 

But it will take more than one strike or protest to stop politicians when they are determined to use political instruments in their interest or against the collective interests of the working class. The political office-holders have refused to cut their scandalous pay despite asking Nigerians to tighten their belts, even going further to tighten workers and common people with ropes. This attempt by the governors to dodge legal responsibility is one of the selfish antics of the ruling class to push the responsibility of Nigeria’s dipping fortune on the working class, meanwhile, they live large in their Sheratons and luxurious apartments. The politicians will not back down easily unless the working class prepare for a long-drawn battle with the ruling elites. This will require putting Nigerian workers on struggle alert, through education on the issue at stake at branch levels; this is the way to ensure wide mobilisation for the struggle at hand. 

There is also an instructive lesson for Nigeria’s working class in this instance of the ruling elites running to change the laws for its class interest. They understand that politics can protect the economic interest of their class. They have their political parties and even passed laws to deregister parties that seek to defend the class interest of the working masses and do not pander to the class interest of looters and money bags. Ordinarily, nothing should stop labour from throwing its numerical force and strategic importance in the economy to building a political party of its own, for the class interest of Nigeria’s oppressed people. This is a role of leadership that labour must be ready to play to save the further descent of democracy in the country, as it is only the working class that can provide trusted leadership for the majority of people in the country. 

We in the MSA think that that this moment has again brought on the agenda the need to reclaim the labour party, which should be re-founded on workers’ democracy and working-class membership. And if this path is an already closed door, the organised labour should join with other working-class activists and socialists to form a new mass party of the working people that will place on its agenda the need for the working masses to combat the ruling elites and wrestle power from its grip, smash capitalism and commence the socialist transformation of Nigeria. This is ultimately the only way forward by which the resources and wealth of the country can be freed and made available to develop the means of production and building a country that will place first and foremost the wellbeing of the working masses. This is the lasting way of protecting the working class economic interest. We reiterate our support for this progressive struggle of Nigeria’s working class and call for a consistent approach in its prosecution.