After 23 years of fruitless, meaningless and worthless democracy following the transition from military to civil rule in 1999, the Nigerian people appear set to take their democratic destiny into their own very hands. And to do this, the Nigerian people may have settled or are intending to settle for the Labour Party of Nigeria as the special vehicle for the purpose of national rebirth through a truly democratic redemption of the Nigerian nation. From the north to the south and from the east to the west, Muslims, Christians and atheists alike, a people powered movement appears set to cause a positive disruption in the political ecosystem in Nigeria as seen by the renewed interest in the democratic process of leadership recruitment into all tiers and arm of government ahead of the 2023 general elections by the Nigerian people. However, to manage this zeal, passion, commitment and determination break loose from the old order and embrace a new one, the labour party as the special vehicle for the purpose of national rebirth through democratic redemption must guide the unfolding democratic revolution with deliberate strategies and tactics to achieve a successful delivery of victory in the 2023 general elections.
State of the nation
To determine the strategies and tactics that are required to successfully deliver victory to the Labour Party of Nigeria, it is imperative to appraise the state of the nation, in order to highlight the inherent problems that have made the much anticipated dividends of democracy at the beginning of the 4th republic in 1999 elusive 23 years after with a view to providing solutions. From the beginning in 1999, Nigeria’s civil democratic experiment was programmed to fail because it was forged in politics of identity; ethnic and religious. This was made inevitable by the structuring of the Nigerian federation along primordial ethno-geographic and religious fault lines, which laid a strong foundation for the preponderance of identity politics in Nigeria’s democratic transactions since the advent of the 4th republic. In the last 23 years of Nigeria’s 4th republic, ethnic and religious sentiments in their most primordial forms have been the drivers of democratic leadership recruitment process into all arms and tiers of government.
Unfortunately, identity politics has reward for political participation, PATRONAGE; a polite word for corruption. From appointments, to award of contracts, formulation of policies and deployment of programmes, successive government that have been elected through the process of Identity politics have deployed state resources to settle political IOUs by different interest groupings. Fuelled and sustained by petro-dollars from rental accruals from oil mineral exploitation in the Deep South, Nigeria’s deep rooted political culture of identity politics and the resultant corrupt patronage scheme has created an unproductive consumption economy that is now driving Nigeria dangerously down the slippery slope of state failure. Over the years, Nigeria’s political process has steadily degenerated into criminal franchise of power grab for self service. As a result of Nigeria’s elaborate patronage system, which has effectively converted public treasury to private vaults of a privileged few in government, the Nigerian state is increasingly unable to meet up with its core responsibility of providing welfare and security for its citizens.
In addition to the cancerous corruption that is limiting the optimal performance of the Nigerian state, the crude contestation for power by ethnic war lords and religious bigots has driven a knife into the heart of Nigeria’s united nationhood, leaving it badly wounded and bleeding excessively. Without national unity in a polity that is riddled with corruption, the cumulative effect of 23 years of misrule is what is now manifesting as heightened insecurity, increasing poverty and the arrested development of the Nigerian state and its people. And with enough poverty and insecurity to go round every Nigerian irrespective of ethnicity, religion or region of origin, the Nigerian people that are now thoroughly fed up are looking for an alternative system that can meet the political leadership needs of a nation in distress and on the brink of state failure.
The task before the Labour Party of Nigeria going into the 2023 general elections is how to strategically and tactfully convert the current political leadership challenge into an electoral advantage by riding on popular discontent and frustrations of the Nigerian people to power. To achieve this objective will be for the Labour Party of Nigeria to convince the Nigerian people that it is indeed the authentic alternative they missed in 2015 when they similar powered the opposition All Progressives Congress [APC] to end the sixteen year rule of the People’s Democratic Party [PDP] and that it can deliver a real change post 2023. But to be able convince a people that are like a serially jilted lover who has become frigid and suspicious of new suitors, the Labour Party of Nigeria will have to go beyond mere words of lamentations of the present situation and present to Nigerians a clear road map towards national rebirth that proposes to transform Nigeria from a consumption to productive economy through the substitution of patronage with good governance as a sustainable reward system for political participation.
The directive principle of state of a new Nigeria
A fundamental condition precedent for national development and security of any nation is the social cohesion and national unity of its constituent peoples. However, to achieve social cohesion and national unity of a sharply divided Nigeria, the Labour Party will have to commit to the Nigerian people to administer the Nigerian state with the principles of equity, fairness and justice, where no Nigerian will be privileged or underprivileged on the basis of ethnicity, religion and religion. Since independence in 1960, Nigeria has remained a country of tribesmen of hundreds of ethnic nationalities that are struggling for the control of its internally generated resources rather than uniting as nation to compete for global resources with other nations of the world. To strengthen the course of social cohesion and national unity through national integration as well as the enhancement of citizenship rights of all Nigerians, the Labour Party of Nigeria may have to commit to the Nigerian people an abrogation of the indigene/settler dichotomy by proposing a deliberately inclusive political process and purposeful administrative procedure that will systematically substitute state of origin with state of residence in the conduct of Labour Party government affairs in all arms and tiers under its control. The substitution of state of origin with state of residence will systematically reconfigure the structure Nigeria’s federating units away from geo-political to geo-economic entities as a foundation for a new political order with economics of production as its driving force away from identity politics of consumption. The ultimate goal of this is to transform Nigeria from a cake sharing country of tribesmen into a cake baking nation of citizens.
Political economic philosophy
To effectively undertake the task of transforming Nigeria from consumption to productive economy, the government can no longer abdicate its responsibility in the means of production to private the private sector alone. While this may sound like a heretic challenge to the established economic orthodoxy that decrees ‘’government has no business in business’’ the Labour Party of Nigeria will have to depart from this flawed economic philosophy and adopt one that boldly states that ‘’government has business in business’’ as its own political economic philosophy for its vision of a New Nigeria that produces and not only consumes. Every religion starts as a heresy that is rejected by the privileged minority but embraced by underprivileged majority. To come across to the Nigerian people as a clear cut alternative the Labour Part will have to make a clear departure from the neo-liberal economic policies that has resulted into state capture, mass unemployment and underemployment that has eroded Nigeria’s productive base over the years. To achieve the promise of a productive economy from a consumption one, a prospective Labour Party federal government will have to commitment to invest and resuscitate Nigeria’s power, energy and Iron and steel infrastructure as the foundation of national economic productivity as well as other critical state owned enterprises as is the case in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, China, Morocco, Norway and France. As a means of economic diversification through specialization, prospective Labour Party state governments will have to commitment to establishing state owned enterprises that are vital to their natural resource endowments in order to maximize their potential and earn additional revenues for their state through externally generated revenue from trade and exports. The involvement of government in the means of production is by no means a move towards state monopoly as it will be done under a liberalized atmosphere that allows for private participation competition and collaboration. This left leaning political economic philosophy must be anchored on an Integrated National Development Plan that ties every part of Nigeria to an export competitive economy. That government has business in business also means that government policies, appointments and programmes will be dictated by economic needs and not political wants. The adoption of the philosophy of government having business in government will give the Labour Party the much needed ideological identification as a left leaning nationalist party; a move that will give the Labour Party supporters a purpose of their mission and a meaning to their vision.
In addition to providing adequate funding for security operations in the on-going war against terror, banditry and piracy in Nigeria, the Labour Party will have to commitment to a comprehensive police and judicial reforms that will enhance the ability of the state to effectively enforce law and other, impartially and without fear or favour on the basis of ethnicity or religion. And if the state must be supreme the Nigerian police force must be repositioned to take up its role of maintaining internal security while the justice system should be made dispense justice without delay. However, to contain the current challenges of heightened insecurity across the country, the Labour Party will have to commit to state and local government policing as a legislative agenda going into the 2023 elections. To effectively get the buy in of terror and banditry ravaged communities in Nigeria, the Labour Party may consider proposing a liberalization of arms possession laws in Nigeria to make easy for community based vigilantes such as the Amotekun, Civilian JTF, Forest Guards etc to bear the right calibre of arms in order to enhance communities self defence capabilities.
Structure and mobilization
Having identified identity politics of ethnicity and religion as the bane of Nigeria’s 4th republic democratic dispensation, the Labour Party of Nigeria will have start the process of mobilizing Nigerians to align their democratic choices with their legitimate individual economic, security and environmental interests in their places of residence away from their ethnicities and religions in their places of origin ahead of the 2023 general elections in order to shatter its shackles. The structure of the Labour Party of Nigeria from ward to local government and state levels should be composed of artisans, farmers, workers, traders, business community, organized labour, professionals, youth, women and people with special needs that domiciled in a particular electoral area. This structure should also reflect the plurality of Nigeria in its composition. However, to effectively engage the members of these various economic interest groups and get their undivided support, the Labour Party will do well to adopt the chatter of demands of the organized Labour movement in Nigeria as well as any other position document on the way out of Nigeria’s developmental challenges. With the Labour Party and its candidates reflecting the chatter of demand of the organized labour, their formidable structures across the country will be deployed to energize the millions of labour party supporters and ensure that their votes will not only be counted but will count in the 176,846 polling units across the country.
Ahead of the general elections and during the period of campaigns, the Labour Party of Nigeria should deploy the use of well-informed third party narrators to convincingly communicate the policy propositions of its candidates at every level. These individuals must be people of impeccable character with untainted records of public service. They must be specialists in the specific areas of the policy agenda of the Labour Party and its candidates and their composition should reflect the diversity of Nigeria. To enhance their ability to communicate the agenda of the party effectively and convincingly, the policy and communication should be merged for proper synchronization.
In Peter Obi, the Labour Party Presidential candidate, Nigerians have identified a decent, incorruptible and morally upright man that they can trust to undertake the difficult but necessary task of leading the national rebirth of Nigeria through democratic redemption. His well established reputation as a frugal manager of public resources for the good of the people meets the leadership need of a country in acute financial distress. But to make the final push and win over the sceptics and pessimists as well making an in road into every part of the country, will be for Peter Obi to take the left turn towards the right direction.