Nigeria: The Mass Miseries of Capitalist Democracy


By Obafemi Sodunola, Organizing Secretary of the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (Sympathizing RCIT Section in Nigeria), 14 February 2019,








As the year 2018 ended with 90.8 million people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria the stakes begin to rise at a most rapid rate for the disturbance of the status quo at the individual level and all social levels and viewpoints the effects of which come to a head or is even bolstered further by the coming 2019 elections.


The severe devaluation of the naira which breeds the economic hardship currently faced by Nigerians felt ever more excruciatingly since the inception of the Buhari/APC government has stemmed dispositions and reactions adverse to the system but as Trotsky pointed out in his classical work on the history of the Russian Revolution that in a time of general crises the people first seek the path of least resistance, that is why bulwark of discontented Nigerians will pull their resources into procuring nostrums to the many maladies they face as Nigerians in the 2019 general elections.


This is not to say that there are no genuinely visible movements spurred by the marginalization of Nigerians at large even before the end of 2018 examples of which include the MASSOB/IPOB secessionist movement and the "Our mumu don do" demonstrations most of which reached a zenith when president Muhammadu Buhari was spending months at a stretch out of the country for medical checkups without relinquishing the office for the vice-president and it shows  how quick people want alternative to the exploiting ruling class hegemony.


A close verification of the facts surrounding the 2019 election shows that it is only a precursor to a more thoroughgoing reconstruction of the social and political order.


At first, a whooping additional 14 million people have registered to take part in the coming elections which when added to the original number of 69.7 million from 2015 general elections one would arrive at a figure of 84 million. This comes as a surprise since in 2015 less people registered to vote than they did four years earlier (in 2011 the number of registered was 74.5 million while in 2015 it was 69.7 million). This shows to extent the Nigerian people have lost confidence in the capitalist democracy.


The number of political parties or groups which drew substantial stakes and provoked recognition among the rank and file of the electorate has more than quadrupled from a staggering 15 political parties in 2011 to a beaming 70 political parties. Even if there is a likelihood that some of these parties are puppet structures set-up by the two major bourgeois parties—the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) to thin down the radical organization of the electorate in this political parties and to distract people with their less popular subordinates, from whatever point you look at it there is a general political awakening amongst the Nigerian polity.


More interesting is the fact that more left leaning political parties are beginning to hold sway in the media and political space.


Although it is only sincere that the level of apathy towards the whole political process has been exacerbated by the failure of the Buhari presidency to deliver on its promises and meet the expectations of the people, yet this is a plus in the preparation for a revolution for it only shows that the masses are becoming more weary of the bourgeois state. This weariness is spelt out more clearly by the slow collection of PVC's by some eight million Nigerians.


While some see this as a cause to abandon the whole electioneering process or to seek solutions in setting up new parties as opposed to the already existing ones we cannot but make recourse to Karl Marx's insight when he made some remarks about the plebiscite in the Paris Commune— that universal suffrage could at best serve as a barometer to measure the consciousness of the working class, it could not by itself inform the reorganization of society upon socialists terms, for this reason we participate in and engage the progressive movements that were birthed or given considerable impetus by the election, such as #takeitback movement, in a bid to sustain them beyond the voting, and final announcements of the result as they will no doubt form vital sections of the force of opposition to the twin bourgeois parties of the APC and PDP.


By all indications it is clear that a revolutionary force is in preperation, first by the plethora of strikes surrounding the campaign period, most notable is the industrial action of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Commission (TUC) for an increased minimum wage which was stifled in vain by the attempt of the treacherous leadership of this very unions. These leaderships who are members of the APC and PDP parties tried to delay the demonstration for increment in minimum wage till the later end of the campaigns so as to give credit to the APC government as a means of influencing public opinion in favour of president Buhari but the process was not without hiccups for the underlying agitation of the masses always force the leaderships of these unions to reluctantly antagonize their party members in the ruling class and to finally force them to increase, albeit tersely, the minimum wage.


Again, the strike by the Academic Staff Union Universities (ASUU) is another pointer to fact that the people see the general elections as a means to bargain for better living conditions with the government on revolutionary terms.


ASUU alongside other educational Workers' Unions like COEASU, ASUP and even workers in the health sector who now threaten with a strike show that the Nigerian working class is far closer to embarking on an outright class struggle against the barbarity of the Nigerian capitalist class yet this struggle will come with militant fervour as the President and his aides were stoned in Ogun state by residents during his campaign in that area. This lot will represent the radical militancy even after the close of the elections.


It must be highlighted that at this point the behaviour of the ruling class towards these radical tendencies will fan up the flames for the collapse of the bourgeois order through a proletarian and peasant revolution.


During the struggle for the increment in minimum wage the Buhari administration made several threats to the undying thirst of the people for change in which the government said the workers should expect mass retrenchment if the minimum wage was to be increased but the workers due to the absence of proper class and economic orientation were amongst themselves ambivalent about the effects of increment in wages because most of them were deluded that it will lead to inflation yet they had no other choice but to press on for the increase even though they became more cautious and finally capitulated to an increment from 18,000 naira to 30,000 naira instead of the original 56,000 naira. The work of revolutionaries become clearer in this light; to provide ample education to the rank and file the Nigerian people which will liberate their outburst against the reprobate and threatening ruling class.


It was also pointed earlier that a certain proportion of the populace are disenchanted by the politics of the state. This lot will only help to accelerate the advent of a profound revolution for what other alternative is left in a marred system that is clearly exposed by the absolute failure of its state, so a heightened crime rate in form of cybercrime, human trafficking, etc is the result of this trend yet the government continues to crack down aggressively on these crimes giving impulse to a rethink of the capitalist order.


As the elections commence and come to a conclusion in the next couple of days the effects of foreign capital and imperialist interest will be revealed through the milage of national debt and reconfigurations in global alliances and markets. What is most important is that all unions use the period to strengthen class consciousness; to enlighten the proletarian and peasant ranks of the Nigerian people towards the class struggle, the crux of which is the formation of a formidable left opposition with clear cut programs to strengthen workers' unions; revitalize and embolden labour laws while placing all labour regulations under full time dispensation of the workers; and finally enriching this opposition with the necessary enlightenment for it to take up the socialist revolution. Mass organizations such as Alliance of Nigerian Students Against Neo liberal Attacks (ANSA), Joint Action Front (JAF) #takeitback movement, etc, will largely be instrumental in achieving this aim of organizing workers, students, petty traders.


Of course we recognize the progressive activities and campaign programs of the #TAKEITBACK MOVEMENT/AFRICA ACTION CONGRESS (AAC) as led by Omoyele Sowore the Presidential candidate of the party in building political consciousness of the masses to resist the status quo in this 2019 election. This is laudable albeit we are fully aware that Sowore stands for a revolutionary and not a revolutionary socialist program. We cannot deny the fact that AAC has told Nigerian workers why they deserve 100,000 naira as living wage, free education at all levels, free health care and openly kicks against privatization and casualization of workers


We have been engaging #TAKEITBACK MOVEMENT through our participation in it since it is a mass organization where mass of people who are discontented with the capitalist economic system are, and pushing our argument for the AAC to fully take ideological stand.


Obviously, 2019 election unlike the 2015 election should be a contestation between the capitalist ruling parties and the dictatorship of the Nigerian workers and poor peasants as a step into building socialist revolution. However, as a matter of fact, at this election no candidate stands with a revolutionary socialist program and the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard does not see any candidate for which it could call to vote for.


We therefore once again reiterate that it is only a revolutionary workers' party with socialist programs that can produce democracy that will make our social lives free from capital oppression and prioritize free housing, free health care, free and quality education etc to the people and the need of society as a whole in sharp contrast to capitalist democracy of profit over people.


To this end, we enjoin youths, students and workers not to abhor illusion in this capitalist ruling party but organize under a revolutionary party and continue in their mass to stage united struggles for this radical alternative.