May Day: Working Class And Challenges Of Social Transformation In Nigeria


06 May 2012

By Muttaqa Yushau Abdulra'uf
 
University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
myushau@gmail.com

This article is in memory of ( Alh Abubakar Rimi former governor of Old Kano State the first to declare May day celebration in Nigeria in 1980s)  

The Nigerian Workers are going to celebrate 2012 May Day amidst new social contradictions; of corruption, un-employment, insecurity, and de-industrialisation of the economy. Beyond the rhetoric of the impact of neo-liberal globalisation and the restructuring of social relations of production globally, the role of the Nigeria's elite towards development and democratisation is dismal.  

Historically the working class in Nigeria were in alliances with the progressive forces in challenging the excess of colonial exploitation. This tradition of Social movement unionism which pertains to a link between trade unions, communities and civil societies is crucial in mitigating the exploitation and kleptomaniac attitude of the Nigeria ruling class under the People Democratic Party (PDP)  

The current social contradiction facing Nigeria testifies the fact that Nigeria ruling elite are incapable of addressing the socio-economic problem facing Nigeria; worst still is their lackadaisical attitude in addressing corruption. The revelations of the House committee on petroleum subsidy is a case in point, it indicts big men and corporations who formed an unholy alliance to bastardise Nigeria's economy. 

Nigeria typifies Evans notion of "predatory state" and Joseph "prebendal politics" both predatory and prebendal politics entails the extent to which the elites capture the state power and arrogate to themselves the prerogative of sharing the proceeds of national economies through patronages. Clientalism defines social relations, in which the ruling elites in concert with the business elite squander national resources. 

The working classes in Nigeria which is an embodiment of all the oppressed should use the 2012 May Day celebration on ponder on the critical social contradictions that is about to cripple the nation.  The working class should strengthen alliances between trade unions civil societies and communities to evolve an alternative platform of political unionism to rival the current bourgeoisie politics of self enrichment. To do this we need a strong solidarity that will tame with the obvious challenges of social fragmentations among the alliance partners. 

Nigerian needs a mass-based platform with which to canvass for political power for social transformation. It is pertinent for the Nigeria progressives to eschew any piece meal reform initiated by the current failed ruling elites through their accomodatory strategy of appeasing the civil societies, what we need is transformation. However not transformation canvassed by Jonathan government, because his transformation is an attempt to capture the working class vocabulary for social deception.

Is it part of transformation that Nigeria has become ungovernable? Is it also a transformation that corruption is the prime priority of this administration? To avoid confusion, the only transformation Nigeria needs lies with the Nigeria people whom have demonstrated their ability during the fuel subsidy mass-protest across the country. Unparallel in the Nigeria's History, the 2012 Mass-protest has unified Nigerians despite their religious or ethnic inclination. 

The Nigeria people should not be deceived by the recent patriotic deception of some ethno-cultural groups like, ACF in the north, those guys are accusing the state of the state of the nation because they are not in power, imagine! Some of them met at a farm in far Niger state to proffer solutions of the problem they have created for two decades through the abuse of power. 

The Nigeria project is a project to be led by the Nigeria people against the Nigeria elites of whatever colouration. It is not a project against PDP or Jonathan, rather is a project of the oppressor Vs the oppressed. In this project, the Nigeria working class should endeavour to de-emphasise identity politics in wake of the current social contradiction that is about to consume all of us.   

The working classes in Nigeria should go back to the balance sheet of the January, 2012 Mass-protest, to review the gains and shortfalls with a view to sustain the Nigerians spirit of social transformation that permeates, gender, class, ethnicity, religion and other social strata. So that solidarity should be our watch ward which the ruling class fear must. 

This year Nigeria is marking centenary of Trade unionism, since the formation of Nigeria's Civil Service Union in 1912. With the current problems facing the wage labour as a result of flexible labour regime ranging from outsourcing, sub-contacting especially in the private sector and various reform of downsizing in the public sector, trade unions need to be more bold to checkmate the labour rationalisation in the post-fordist labour regime. 

Finally, I hold the believe that, beyond the rhetoric of neo-liberalism as the basis of Nigeria's social contradictions, the role of the Nigeria's elite is critical, they hold the state to ransom at the expense of public goods. Therefore, Nigeria's working class have to re-awaken and champion the struggle of genuine transformation that the political elites in power sung, which to me is a castle in the sky.

 

  EsinIslam.Com

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