Politics

There’s No Hope For The Common Man Under Tinubu – Ajayi

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Kunle Wizeman Ajayi, a former governorship aspirant of the African Action Congress (AAC) in Ondo State, is the National President of the Socialist Workers League (SWL). In this interview, he speaks on the state of Nigerian workers and other issues, ANAYO EZUGWU brings the excerpt

What are the aims and objectives of the Socialist Workers League (SWL)? The Socialist Workers League (SWL) is an organisation of revolutionary socialists, who aim at building both cadre-based and mass intervention members, who would lead the agitations and teachings for another world away from the grips of the greed and powers of capitalism. We believe that an egalitarian world where the class will be abolished as the workers control both production and distribution of wealth is very possible.

How has the SWL helped towards the emancipation of the Nigerian working class? Our history as the Socialist Workers League (SWL) traces its roots to the May 31 Movement birthed out of the struggles against Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) in 1989. From then till now, we have transformed into the Socialist Workers Movement (SWM), and in 2011, had a merger with the Socialist League (SL) whose ideas, ‘socialism from below,' we share. From 1989 till date, we have intervened in all sectors of the struggles; from the students' movement to the working class; self-determination to women's struggles among other struggles of the working class people. As it is today, the SWL is the only socialist organisation that is working within and largely in the biggest revolutionary party in Nigeria, the African Action Congress (AAC) led by Omoyele Sowore. Sowore himself has a long history as a Mayist leading as the first president of the Congress of Progressive Youths (COPY) in 1997, a national movement of youths that was facilitated by Mayists to lead youth struggles for the emancipation of Nigeria and Africa.

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Do you think the Socialist Workers League (SWL) can muster enough strength to successfully champion a successful workers' revolution in Nigeria? Yes, the Socialist Workers League (SWL) can champion a successful workers' revolution as our idea is to be the tribune of the oppressed and inspire the self-emancipation of the working class. We believe that it is workers themselves that can lead the revolution. Ours is to learn from their struggles and explore the same to inspire them into revolutionary activities. So, as an organisation, we will work with the working class to champion a successful workers' revolution in Nigeria.

What is the relationship between the Socialist Workers League, the Coalition for Revolution (CORE) and the Take It Back (TIB) Movement, all of which seem to be saying the same thing? The Socialist Workers League is a cadre-building organisation that works within the Take It Back Movement and the African Action Congress (AAC) as a political party to deepen the socialist understandings of the revolutionaries that are interested in a new Nigeria and world. We also work in the clearing house which Coalition For Revolution is meant to be, as the Take It Back led the call for #RevolutionNow in August 2020. So, as a cadre-building organisation, we work within the larger national and mass based movements like the Take It Back movement to build deeper comrades, who will serve as dialectical revolutionaries and who will work with millions of workers that desire another Nigeria and the world.

How do you see the African Action Congress (AAC) as a viable platform for the political emancipation of Nigerian workers? It is about its ideals and practices as a pro-worker party. The AAC is the only party that has been openly agitating for better workers' wages and welfare in the current political formations. Even the Labour Party (LP), which is meant to be a workers' party never advocates for workers' welfare and wages, not to talk of participating in workers' struggles. Most chapters of the AAC participated heartily in the last ‘cost of living' protests as called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) but the Labour Party never bulged, not even publicly endorsing the protests even when the party is supposed to be owned by the NLC. So, the Socialist Workers League is working within the AAC because the party believes in the self-emancipation of the working class as a class in itself.

Nigerians must rise to own their resources and reject the rogue policies of the ruling class as dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank

What would you say that labour and civil societies achieved with the recent mass protests in some parts of the country? We were able to show the world that mass actions are the way to go. We were able to tell the world that there is a high cost of living in Nigeria and that the people will resist the forceful implementation of the letter of the wicked neo-liberal capitalism, which was why the ruling class was so threatened. They were threatening the NLC leaders, just as they blackmailed them with flimsy jibes. The NLC was able to march massively nationwide even if it was for an hour. We have correctly lit the candle of resistance.

From what you have seen so far under President Bola Tinubu-led government, would you say the administration has any plan for the common man, including the workers that will lead to the emergence of an egalitarian society? There is no hope at all for the common man under this administration. What we have is a situation where the ruling class led by Tinubu is burying the economy and reducing the purchasing power of the masses, and they are unapologetic about it. They believe that they have enough clout to silence all opposition and shut all critical responses to the rotten mal-governance that they lavishly impose on the people. I can bet that Nigerians will rise against the shenanigans of this regime, and it will be wowing.

What is the view of the Socialist Workers' League on calls for a new national minimum wage? It is long overdue and we are happy that workers pointedly reflected the high cost of living at the public hearings in the different regions. Workers were modest enough to ask for an average of N500,000 minimum wage across the regions. So, we stand by the NLC, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and all workers and urge them not to compromise the wage standards, no matter what.

How do you see the plan by the present administration to pay social welfare money to unemployed youths? It is all a ruse. Palliatives are like throwing sachets of water into the ocean. The Unemployment Allowance should be at least a three quarter of the minimum wage. So, unemployment benefits should be at least N300,000.

What is your take on the directive by the President on the implementation of the Steve Oronsaye report? It is another way to lay the blame on the working people over the roguery and corruption in government. Instead of the Tinubu administration to reduce cost of governance, it prefers to reduce agencies and slim the civil service. This is simply cutting cost of governance from above. It is clear-cut impunity. That is why nobody should agree with the Oronsaye report. It is anti-people and anti-worker. It will increase unemployment and also help politicians to steal more.

The Federal Government, through the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, recently said there is no food shortage in Nigeria. How do you see this assertion vis a vis the current situation in the country? Mohammed Idris reflects what the Tinubu hegemony wants to do with denials, lies and blackmails. They trade blame to postpone the evil day but they cannot sustain the agenda.

How do you think the nation's power and fuel crises could be solved? By returning to the government's total control of both the power and oil sectors and other commanding heights of the economy. Privatising through deregulation and removal of subsidies has caused more pain to the people. It must stop. Nigerians must rise to own their resources and reject the rogue policies of the ruling class as dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which targets the total transfer of public resources into private hands.


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