RENOWNED activist and progressive intellectual, Prof. Omotoye Olorode, on Saturday called on the working class in Nigeria resist bad policies of government that have over the years engendered social and economic hardship for majority of Nigerians and subverted the sovereignty of the country.
Prof Olorode, in his opening remarks as chairperson of the 10th anniversary programme to mark the 2012 Occupy Nigeria Mass Action, held at the Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde Auditorium, Paschal Bafyau Labour House, Abuja, said “frustration among the masses arising from the policies subverting the sovereignty of the Constitution, and ultimately, the sovereignty of our people, is the main cause of the current economic, political, social and cultural chaos and generalised insecurity in Nigeria.”
He said the emergence of the Peoples Alternative Political Movement (TPAPM) is not an accident, saying that as the inheritors and heirs of nationalist, pan-Africanist, anti-imperialist and internationalist tradition of Nigeria’s working people, “we are the inheritors of the aspiration for socialist transformation of Nigeria,”
Pointing out that the convergence that produced TPAPM in Abuja in March 2021 also did not arise from nothing because TPAM is the product of an inter-generational tradition of struggle.
“The older elements are those who learned and struggled along with, and at the feet of, Michael Imuodu, Mokwugo Okoye, Ibrahim Nok, Abubakar Zukogi, Wahab Goodluck, Balarabe Musa, Gambo Sawaba, Aka-Bashorun, Eskor Toyo, Aminu Kano, Festus Iyayi, Ola Oni etc. Many are contemporaries of, and collaborators with, Abdulrahman Black, Chris Abashi, Chima Ubani, Olaitan Oyerinde, Bamidele Aturu, Emma Ezeazu, Bagauda Kaltho, etc.
“What was colonial domination and exploitation proceeded unabated today under the neo-colonialism of the neoliberal stage. This state today, militarialised since 1966, matured as SAP in the early 1980s and is now maintained and deepened as increased national indebtedness, increases in taxes and tariffs, withdrawal of the so-called “subsidies”, the looting they call privatization of public assets and social services, liberalization of trade and killing of local industries (refineries, textile industry, even agriculture, etc.), and devaluation of our national currency. As we gather here, Comrades, the World Bank is asking the Nigerian government to further devalue the Naira.
“These poverty-generating policies supervised by overlapping generations and regimes of the Nigerian ruling class is designed to enlarge the accumulation of surpluses for imperialism and accumulation of private wealth for a very tiny ruling class of Nigeria.
“Since the January 2012 Uprising against increases in the prices of petroleum products, the different regimes of Nigerian ruling class have started a knee-jack blackmail of accusing Our Movement of trying to instigate what they call Regime Change!. Since then, this blackmail has been brandished each time the Nigerian masses say “We are hungry”; when they say “Nigerians have never been so insecure”; when they say “Nigerians have never been so divided along tribal and religious lines”; or “So much public resources have never been in so few hands”; when they insist that “Police brutality must end”; when Nigerians say “It is ruling class policies that create and maintain banditry, ritual murders and increased criminality across the country”!
“And this blackmail of instigation of regime change had become so handy as justification for armed attacks by agents of government against peaceful protesters and increased impunity of secret police, now often completely hooded; and justification for reported disappearances of Nigerian citizens.
“What is getting more worrisome is the adoption and broadcasting of this blackmail in some segments of our movement tagging legitimate citizen’s demand as Provoking Regime Change. We must struggle against this blackmail as vigorously as possible because it is beginning to provide excuses for bad governance, lack of accountability and impunity in the ruling circles. It is beginning to provide excuses for the progressive subversion of economic, social, and civil-rights foundations of both Chapter II and Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The frustration among the masses arising from policies that subvert the sovereignty of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and, ultimately, the sovereignty of our people, are the main causes of the current economic, political, social, and cultural chaos and generalized insecurity in Nigeria.
“We know that segments of our movement have different strengths and weaknesses. The most serious weakness and disabilities are those that ruling-class and governance cultures create and deployed to limit citizen’s organizations and their capacity to break out of ruling class structures and conceptions of reality. Yet, our people will articulate and actualize this break-out through the increasing realization of popular sovereignty and only by contesting the foundations of ruling class power by all means necessary—mass education, mass protest and even electoral processes as corrupted as they are by ruling power and conspiracy.
“In conclusion, let us always remember the development of our movement. Sovereignty of the Nigerian people was illegal until working peoples’ centuries-long struggles won Independence for Nigeria in 1960. But the right of Nigerians to National Sovereignty was born with chains of continued imperialist control via economic and cultural dependence on IMF, World Bank, AFDB, etc.! Trade unions were illegal organizations for a long time; many are still illegal (police, custom etc.)! In the 1980s, The NEPA Eleven were charged with treason and sentenced to death for going on strike. NLC, ASUU, students organizations (NANS) were banned by this same Nigerian ruling class, and the same ruling circles, that are still in power today! When the organizations of the Nigerian masses win rights, they are rights born in chains. The right to strike is chained with “No Work, No Pay”—“The Right to Starve”.
“The ruling class appropriates all the wealth that labour creates and they deploy it freely to organize ruling class political parties. Labour Creates Wealth, but the ruling class laws bar labour from using its resources for political organising!
“Yet, Comrades, the support of organized labour under the auspices of the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress in this convergence under The Peoples Alternative Political Movement, is extremely gratifying! It is indicative of the possibilities of continued synergy among various segments of our movement.”