The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) has taken a swipe at former Anambra Governor, Peter Obi who is also the presidential candidate of the Labour Party.
In a statement issued by Peluola Adewale, the DSM’s Organising Secretary, Obi who is now a popular candidate among many Nigerian youths, was anti-labour when he was governor of Anambra State.
It condemned the endorsement of Obi as the presidential candidate of the Labour Party by the Nigeria Labour Congress, despite having promised alongside the Trade Union Congress, to reclaim the party and reposition it towards the interest of Nigerian workers and the poor whereas Obi’s antecedents have shown he is anti-poor and anti-worker.
The group highlighted the alleged failures of Obi’s administration to meet the demands of Labour in Anambra, noting that during Obi’s tenure as governor, state hospitals were shut down for 13 months upon his refusal to meet the demands of striking doctors.
Also, the state university was shut for more than six months. They added that workers of the state water corporation had to secure a court order against Obi’s successor, Willie Obiano, to pay salaries and entitlements which Obi had owed them for eight years
“Some of the workers were said to have died without salary, gratuity or pension. Also following a 2011 strike embarked upon by the state workers to demand the implementation of the legal minimum wage, Obi threatened to sack all Anambra state workers engaged since 2003, reviewed the appointment of non-indigenes and placed an embargo on the employment in the state services,” the group said.
The movement described Obi as “a right-wing, neo-liberal capitalist politician who is not likely to genuinely subscribe to the NLC’s Charter of Demands”.
The group said while Obi is canvassing for votes, he may falsely endorse the ‘Charter of Demands’ in order to win the backing of the labour centres and by extension workers’ votes.
The DSM, however, opined that Obi may likely renounce this if he becomes President “except a serious struggle develops against his regime”.
The statement noted, “This is because he is at heart an anti-worker politician who defends the pro-rich capitalist system which is the root of the crises plaguing Nigeria as a neo-colonial economy.
“For instance, Obi objects to the inclusion of labour matters, including the minimum wage, as an item on the exclusive legislative list. To him, they should not be universal and centrally determined but rather separately by various state governments and the federal government (Vanguard January 3, 2019).
“In other words, contrary to the cardinal position of the NLC and TUC, Obi is opposed to the principle of national minimum wage. This explains why he allowed public hospitals and universities as well as courtrooms to shut down for many months.
“Moreover, beyond the documented tendency of Obi to be anti-worker, he is inveterately committed to the same neo-liberal capitalist philosophy and programme which largely accounts for the monumental failure of both PDP and APC governments since the return to civil rule in 1999 despite the colossal human and material resources of the country.
“We recall that while Obi was the Anambra state governor, he also doubled as an Economic Adviser to President Jonathan whose government earned historically the highest oil and gas revenue but created a serious mess, as a result of its economic agenda in addition to its egregious corruption, something which has been worsened by the Buhari government.
“More recently it cannot be ignored that at the last 2019 presidential election, Obi was the running mate of Atiku Abubakar whose signature role as the Vice President under Obasanjo government was the criminal sale of public assets to cronies as well as corrupt self-enrichment.
“Indeed, the Obasanjo government, which Atiku served, by its ruinous economic policies sped up deindustrialization of the country with collapse and relocation of many industries that used to provide mass jobs.
“There is not really any political or principled disagreement between Obi and Atiku. Obi indeed venerated Atiku as his leader in his congratulatory message following the victory of the latter in PDP’s primary. So, it is not really credible that he transformed himself into a genuine friend of labour.
“In any case, on the basis of his economic philosophy especially at a period of revenue crisis, burgeoning national debt and global capitalist crisis, Obi if elected, may not be able to demonstrate his so-called frugal management of resources let alone fulfil all his electoral promises.
“Indeed his ‘frugal’ management may be the banner under which he unleashes serious pro-capitalist attacks including austerity measures on the working people and youth.
“In addition, his alleged frugal management of resources, austere lifestyle and incorruptibility does really not add up when put to close scrutiny.
“For instance, there are allegations that he invested Anambra state funds in companies and businesses where either his family or himself had interest.
“Also, Obi was indicted in the Pandora papers, which were leaked last year by Premium Times and a consortium of 600 journalists from 150 new organisations across the world, of circumventing the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act by stashing wealth in offshore companies in order to avoid paying taxes.
“Each time he has been confronted with these and other allegations, Obi often claims ignorance of the law or opportunistically appeal to public opinion by reeling out specious figures of his performance in office without answering the allegations.”
Also taking a swipe at the Labour Party, the DSM said the Party has become a trashcan where those rejected from political parties such as the All Progressives Congress; Peoples Democratic Party and others run to when they lose out on elections in the other parties.
The group said if Obi fails to secure the presidential seat come 2023, he will abandon the Labour Party just like every other politician who left “leading anti-poor parties like PDP, APC, APGA, ACN among others”.
It listed the names of politicians who have in the past used the Labour party after having lost out in the PDP or APC, but later dumped it to include Femi Pedro, Ayodele Fayose, Andy Uba, Ifeanyi Ubah, Joshua Dariye, Alao Akala, and Olusegun Mimiko.
DSM said, “At every election since 2007, the party’s electoral tickets are usually put on sale like a commodity for moneybag politicians looking for a party for the actualization of their self-serving ambition.
“For instance, currently, apart from Obi, the gubernatorial candidate of the party in Osun state is Yusuf Lasun, former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives who lost out in the primary of APC while other anti-worker politicians including the past national chairman of APGA have also picked up different tickets of the party.
“The fact is that by the end of the selection exercise of its candidates the electoral list of the Labour Party will not be fundamentally distinguishable from that of the APC and PDP.
“So, if it is not Obi, another moneybag politician would have bought the presidential ticket of the party or the party endorses APC presidential candidate Bola Tinubu or Abubakar Atiku of the PDP, something that is not yet ruled out. In 2011 and 2015 elections, the Labour Party endorsed President Jonathan of the PDP as its candidate.”
The DSM, however, noted that the Labour Party, with its choice of candidate, has shown that there is no hope for the poor masses.
Pointing out that the party is hypocritic, the DSM said it is wrong for a party which sold its nomination form at N30 million to describe itself as “the political vehicle of the downtrodden”.
It also noted that it is hypocritical for the party to present Obi and other right-wing politicians as “a voice for the re-start of a genuine journey of national development”.
It said: “Many current labour leaders do not have an alternative economic programme to the neo-liberal capitalist agenda promoted by these characters, including Peter Obi, and also the fact that some labour leaders run as aspirants or candidates of the APC.
“This also explains why the recent leaderships of Labour are not fundamentally opposed to capitalist policies of privatisation and deregulation which, together with naira devaluation, worsen the devastating effects of the global crisis of capitalism on the quality of life of ordinary Nigerians.
“This underscores why activists have to link the campaign for a mass working people’s party with the need for fighting trade unionism with a socialist leadership.”
The DSM further noted that the Labour Party cannot be said to be the voice of the masses as it is currently constituted of anti-poor capitalist moneybag politicians.
It stated that the poor need a party that can serve as a platform of struggle that daily intervenes in the plight of working people in communities and workplaces and mobilise mass resistance against all anti-poor capitalist policies.
DSM urged labour movement including trade unions, the People’s Alternative Political Movement (TPAP-M) Joint Action Front and other pro-masses organisations to begin to build a new party for the working people on a socialist programme that “consistently fights against every anti-poor capitalist policy and fight for political power”.
“Given the current economic crisis that will likely worsen as well as their pro-rich philosophies, whoever wins the 2023 election between Tinubu, Atiku and Obi will be unable to prevent the crisis hitting hard and will themselves unleash attacks on working people and youth including a hike in fuel prices, tax increase, school fees hike, etc.
“Therefore, we call on NLC, TUC, trade unions and pro-masses organisations to organise a series of mass resistance against the current economic hardship and prepare the working masses and youth against attacks and tumultuous struggle that may break out after 2023 elections.”