labour Movement and CSOs Must Act to Save the Nigerian Working Class:
By Comrade Ogbu Alexander Ameh
During the pro democracy struggle which climaxed in the June 12 struggle against prolonged military rule in Nigeria, the political elites were not anywhere near the trenches. It was some activists who came together to form a common front with handful of student activists and sympathetic labour unions to wage the tenacious anti junta struggle popularly known as pro democracy struggle in Nigeria.
We still remember vividly when political power was left on the street but reactionary elements within the various tendencies were bent on undermining the first attempt at Revolutionary overthrow of a military regime in Nigeria.
It was not achieved, but further events convoluted into a deus ex machina that shook the fabric of the military establishment in Nigeria forcing it to a win win negations that ushered in the 4th republic of democracy in Nigeria.
Suddenly, the indolent Political elites and their ex military turned politicians launched into the political arena and captured the space by anointing a preferred political party and candidates.
As the stage was set for smooth transition from khaki to agbada and suit, the Revolutionary soldiers from the vanguard of activists and labour leaders who fought in the trenches were relegated to the sideline and the crass accumulative scheming started. Humongous salaries and allowances were allocated and corruption instituted. Until today, fight against corruption has become a style of infighting among different sections of the bourgeois over the loot.
At the center, the anti graft agency is used in this fight against opponents while at the state litigations take preeminence over governance. As the predecessor and successor slog it out in legal battle over stolen monies or converted properties, workers look on without salaries as at when due. Even when salary increase that almost took eternity to be approved became law, most Governor’s refused to implement it and therefore do not pay. The workers refused to go on strike because their elected leaders have compromised as they dine and wine with the political leaders.
A theatrical expose now is the war of ego and power between Yari and his successor Matawalle the governor of Zamfara State over non payment of the former allowances since just May this year. Yari in a scathing attack on his successor Bello Matawalle quoted in his letter dated 17th Oct 2019 that the law stipulated that; a former governor is entitled to a monthly upkeep allowance of 10Million together with a pension equivalent.
This ambiguity brings to the fore the passive and compromised collective bargaining power of the Nigerian Working Class. Through the trajectory of struggles in Nigeria, the workers have been in the vanguard, but when the time for dividends come, the political elites would converge like hyenas on a carcass in the jungle.
Have the Nigerian Working Class not seen or had enough to stir them into mass action? Workers are not being paid a living wage, yet their gratuities and pensions are a herculean tasks for them while alive. Ironically, like a case of one world, different entitlement style, we lived witness to the absurdity that is prevalent today as politicians bargain with the destinies of the entire masses in the majority. It is a great shame that majority in this case do not win in any way.