National Sections of the L5I:

Nigeria: reject election farce

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"We need a revolution like in Ukraine or the Philippines” was the call made by the opposition in the aftermath of the corrupt presidential elections last month.

The so-called 70 per cent vote for presidential candidate Umaru Musa Yar’Adua exposed Nigerian politics to be rotten.

Yar’Adua won by a landslide, gaining 24.6m votes, against 6.6m for his closest challenger, Muhammadu Buhari and 2.6m for vice-president turned opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar.

But the vast majority of people in Nigeria know the election was stolen. There are stories of shortages of ballot papers or papers already filled out, people being paid to vote for Yar’Adua, failure to register the 98 million eligible voters (only 60 million were registered by the election council) polling stations in opposition areas only opening for a few hours or running out of ballot papers, and ballot stuffing.

In Akwa state, the winning PDP candidate Andy Uba won 1.9m votes despite the total electorate being only 1.8 million. The supposed “Independent National Election Committee” later claimed he had won by only 1.09 million votes.

Yar’Adua and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has been in power for eight years, stole the elections using bribery, police and army intimidation and every trick of state at their disposal. The previous week’s state elections ended with 50 demonstrators being killed.

The opposition, backed by the Catholic church and international observers, is now calling for either a legal challenge or a an interim government to oversee new elections.

But for the workers and peasants this is a danger!

The 70 per cent of Nigerians living on less than a dollar a day do not need to exchange one set of capitalist robbers for another - either Buhari or ex-vice president Abubakar. Buhari is an ex-general who has enriched himself and is head of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). Abubakar is the former vice president under Obasanjo and had been a member of the PDP. Accusations of corruption and a near disqualification in the presidential elections forced him over to the Action Congress party at the end of last year.

The Nigerian elite will come to an agreement because they are more worried about the masses than each other. And despite both these capitalist parties having given the go ahead to mass protests on 1 May they fear that it may get out of hand. Good, it should get out of hand.

Workers and peasants
The Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have called for joint protests on 1 May. These protests need to link up with other civil society organisations and relaunch the labour and civil society organisations (Lascos) that helped organise the seven general strikes this decade. A mass general strike of workers, peasants and their supporters on the 1 May and continuing will pose question of political power.

Rather than legal challenges or an interim government workers must demand a sovereign constituent assembly as the way forward for Nigeria. The CA must debate a new constitution to end the cycle of coups and corrupt democratic governments, and nationalise the oil multinationals, and the holdings of the ruling elite and use the wealth for mass of the population.

The unions must also launch a campaign for an independent workers party. The campaign can be built among workers, Lascos, and the militant youth organisations in the Delta who face multinational and government violence. There have already been stalled attempts by the Nigeria Labour Congress: the stolen elections show that the working class needs its own alternative.

Such a party must involve the widest possible layers of workers, youth and poor in a discussion of strategy, in which revolutionaries must advance a programme that can link the demands around the CA and transference of wealth to those of a workers’ state, won through revolution.

We believe the party should fight for:
• A living wage, jobs for all, free education and health care
• Give the land to the peasants. Expropriate the big landowners without compensation
• For democratic rights for national minorities and ethnic groups - for a constituent assembly, a new constitution and the right of minorities to secede if they choose
• Against communal violence, separation of church and state.
• Against corruption - open the books to workers investigation
• For nationalisation of the oil industry and big companies and workers control without compensation
• For a workers’ militia to defend the masses against the army, police and “private security” of the oil firms and big companies
• Repudiate Nigerias foreign debt.
• For a democratic plan to organise the economy for need not greed.

Imperialism’s president
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is a little know political figure. His brother, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua was President Obasanjo’s deputy when he was Nigeria’s military ruler between 1976 and 1979.

Obansanjo failed to win his fight to run for election for the third time (Nigerian presidents have a two-term limit), but Yar’Adua was chosen to be the former president’s yes-man after Obansanjo fell out with Abubaker.

Obansanjo eight years in office is the longest period of democratic rule in post-colonial Nigeria. He has close links with Western governments and has implemented strict fiscal discipline and privatisation of much of Nigeria’s economic life. The effect on the economy has been disastrous with rising unemployment, spiralling food prices, higher rents and the near collapse of the energy sector.

The economic policies of the People’s Democratic Party may have made them a darling of the West, but the cost has been the embedding of corruption into day to day life. And the policies of the other major parties are no different.

The key thing for the West is that there is a president in Nigeria, which is the eighth biggest oil exporter in the world, that rules for the West and keeps the oil flowing.

For more on the Nigerian elections go to http://fifthinternational.org/index.php?id=249,1131,0,0,1,0

This article was first published in Workers Power, British section of the League for the Fifth International. For more information on Workers Power visit the website at [EXT http://www.workerspower.com] WorkersPower.com [/EXT]

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