WHY LABOUR SHOULD CALL A 48 HOUR WARNING NATIONWIDE GENERAL STRIKE TO STOP THE GREEDY MOUTHS OF THE GOVERNORS
I am now seized of the purported declaration by
GOVERNOR Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State this morning, Tuesday 18th May, 2021 that Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and other officials of the NLC are wanted persons by purported violations of the Miscellaneous Act and placed ransom on their heads to be paid to anyone who could hand them over to the Kaduna State Ministry of Justice.
The questions to ask are several , but some are :
- What provisions of the Miscellaneous Offences Act empowers the Kaduna State Governor to declare anyone wanted ?
- What has become of the role of the Commissioner of Police of the Nigeria Police Force, Kaduna State Command if there is such genuine threat to law and Security by the NLC officials?
- Assuming without conceding that the Governor has the powers to declare anyone wanted under the Miscellaneous Offences Act, when has the Kaduna State Ministry of Justice become a Police Station or started having a detention facility for detaining arrested persons?
The actions of Mallam El-rufai are nothing but Executive recklessness and lawlessness.
I am of the firm view that these lawless actions on the part of the Kaduna State Governor laid basis for the unprovoked attack on the protest led by NLC this morning at Kaduna State.
What should be done by the labour movement?
This assault on protesting workers in Kaduna State and the NLC National officials is an attack on the entire working people’s movement in Nigeria and should not be taken lying low.
Nigeria today stands at the brink of either a CLASS WAR or a CIVIL WAR.
Right from the #EndSARS protests, the Nigerian ruling elite has perfected the use of anti-strike and anti-protest scabs and thugs that enter into dirty street battles with peaceful Protesters.
The scenario playing out in Kaduna State is a foretaste of the bitter and bleak future that await many workers in most states of the Federation.
The Governors are utilising the cacaphony of agitations for secession and self-determination to step up their calls for “restructuring” and “devolution of powers” to the States.
What this would mean in real terms is what is already playing out in Kaduna State. The working class would be “restructured” through downsizing, mass sacking and reduction of salaries.
As I write, both the Judiciary and Parliamentary Workers across the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja are on strike for for the gross failure of the Governors to implement financial autonomy of the two major organs of bourgeois governance in their respective states. Needless to state , the strike has been on for more than one month without the Governors batting an eyebrow!
What can bring the Governors on their knees is at a minimum a 48 hour nationwide general strike to also draw the remainder of the working class in the Executive Arm of Government and the Private Sector to the barricades of struggle.
As the Nigerian Governors’ Forum meet by 2pm tomorrow, I call on the national leaderships of both the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to convene a Joint World Press Conference tomorrow, 19th May, 2021 to respond to the attack on the protests in Kaduna State and to give a 7-day notice of a 48 hour warning general strike action with the failure and refusal of Governors to meet the demands of striking Judiciary and Parliamentary Workers.
The 7-day Notice should be with the aim of calling the meetings of the organs of both labour centres up to NEC to decide on the next steps for the labour movement after the 5 day warning strike and protests in Kaduna State .
The actions of the Governors are not in any way different from the actions of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Buhari-led regime , amidst gross failure to tackle widespread insecurity and Banditry , continue to inflict anti-poor and anti-worker policies such as electricity tariff increase.
It is now clear as broad daylight the real basis of the siege of insecurity in KADUNA State. The chaos imposed by the neo-liberal policies of El-Rufai-led Kaduna State Government continue to breed bandits and kidnappers.
Going forward, it is commendable that the national leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress has brought the weight of the entire labour movement to bear in this struggle against the mass retrenchment in KADUNA State.
It is important to state that the period of the five days’ warning strike should be used to set up democratically- controlled Workers-led Strike Enforcement and Defence Committees as well as Mass Congresses from local government levels to the state level to discuss on daily basis the state of the strike and the next steps.
This will help to checkmate any attempt by the top labour bereaucrats to compromise the struggle. The Strike Enforcement and Defence Committees will also be utilized to monitor the strike and defend it from scabs and reactionary elements like terrorists and kidnappers.
I am aware that the Nigeria Labour Congress threatened indefinite nationwide strike action if at the expiration of the 5-day warning strike action in KADUNA State does not lead to reversal of the mass retrenchment in KADUNA State.
I am persuaded that a national strike action is not only necessary after the KADUNA State strike but long overdue.
I hold that instead of Labour fighting one Governor before taking up the other and calling for the head of a Minister , what is needed is an all-rounded mass mobilisation of workers to defeat the iniquitous capitalist system.
I am of the firm the view that a 48 hour warning general strike , with sufficient preparation including mass education of rank and file workers at local , state and Zonal levels , with demands cutting the plights of workers across the states will serve as a striking example of resistance.
This will lay basis for an indefinite general strike. Indefinite general strike action raises the question of who controls power and resources in society.
With the current President Muhammadu Buhari-led regime scared stiff of a military coup amidst widespread calls for regime change, a call for an indefinite general strike action will send shivers down the spine of the regime.
However, the labour movement needs a comprehensive programme of taking power and ultimately running society to meet the needs of the working people. This will require building a mass working people’s political alternative.
Despite the hot air blown by the Ayuba Wabba-led Nigeria Labour Congress national leadership in the media to mobilise rank and file workers into the Labour Party and lead mass actions against Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for embracing the new Labour Party Leadership , which emerged without the Democratic input of the two platforms of the labour movement-Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, no practical steps has been undertaken by the leadership.
What would prove the seriousness or otherwise of the efforts to reclaim the Labour Party will be the level of concrete actions that can be undertaken in this direction.
It is on this basis that I call on the leadership of the NLC and TUC to mobilize in support of the #OccupyNASS protests taking place tomorrow at the National Assembly Gate and in all 36 States’ House of Assembly to demand passage of the new Electoral Act , which will help to resolve the imbroglio in the Labour Party and deepen an internal democratic culture within political parties.
I am of the view that the question of a mass working people’s political alternative is a sore and urgent question for the entire labour movement.
It is this in this light that I call for the urgent convocation of a Working Class Summit drawing together the the NLC , TUC and FIWON (Federation of Informal Workers’ Organisations of Nigeria) to bring together left and radical parties and political formations such as the Socialist Party of Nigeria, Movement of the People (MOP), African Action Congress (AAC), National Conscience Party (NCP) , PAPM( People’s Alternative Political Movement) and Joint Action Front (JAF) to discuss the reclaiming of the Labour Party, or in the alternative , where such becomes impossible, the building of a new mass working people’s political alternative.