Prof. Omotoye Olorode, member TPAP-M Secretariat

What is generally referred to as ‘Politics’ takes place in time and space. Various groups and individuals try to influence class and other categorical interests.

The left, with its basically socialist ideology, has been historically and consistently on the side of the labour movement, in its widest sense, in Nigeria since the colonial period.

Since 1989 especially, and in relatively more recent times, the labour movement, spearheaded by ‘organized labour’ and the radical left, has made forays into party politics trying to found a Labour Party [1989, 2002, and now 2022]. ‘Organized labour’ had not only generally dominated these processes and the outcomes of the processes; it had done so largely on the basis of the perspectives and preferences of its bureaucracies especially at its centres. The modus operandi of these interventions vis a vis ruling class parties and notables had been largely transactional [1993, 2019].

At other levels, the radical left had made efforts to intervene electorally via independent left political parties. The success of the PRP in Kaduna and Kano States in 1979 exemplifies this category of efforts.

In between, different left formations and radical intellectuals including professionals [lawyers, medics, journalist, teachers, and even police personal like SUPO Alozie Ogbugbuaja] and students have stood firmly with the generality of Nigeria’s oppressed and organized labour and the trade-union movement specifically.

These elements of the left, in spite of different perspectives, remained committed to, and involved in, the struggles of the masses of the Nigerian people. This sustained commitment to, and solidarity with, Nigeria’s working people continued in spite of the periodic hibernation of the ‘leadership’ of organized labour [1989-1999] and habitual abandonment of popular struggles which they co-sponsored with the left and ‘civil society’, as in January 2012, September 2021, and January 2022.

The left sustained its interventions, of course, as a duty to Nigeria’s working people and their organizations; not because the left forgot all the episodes of betrayals and apostasies. And not because we do not know that the episodes of betrayal and abandonment had alienated significant segments of Nigeria’s working masses!

This was where we were following the scary circumstances and the particular vulnerability of the masses of Nigeria’s working masses as the illusion of ruling class regrouping [of 2015] began to collapse in 2018. The aforementioned collapse became exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the heightened looting of public resources by the ruling class and the escalated crisis of social and physical security of the masses of our people.

The particular intervention of the Peoples Alternative Political Movement [TPAP-M]—founded by the left in and outside organized labour—which is now one year old, is a re-iteration of the duty of the left to Nigeria’s working people. Its commitment to collaboration with NLC and TUC and industrial unions underscores its faithfulness to the conviction that the labour movement is the ultimate locus of the struggle for the liberation of the working people of Nigeria in spite of the limitations of ‘organized labour’ and the fundamentally anti-labour laws that established the NLC in 1978.

Arising from the developing ambience of the 2023 General Elections, discussions in the Interim National Steering Committee of TPAP-M (INSC) led to the consensus that TPAP-M should engage politically in the 2023 electoral processes. This was to include attempting to register a political party [the Peoples Alternative Party –TPAP] with a definitively SOCIALIST MANIFESTO. It also included collaborating with existing left and left-leaning political parties [SPN, PRP, LP]; and engaging with the hope of resolving their internal problems [where they exist].

As the registration of TPAP could not be effected having regard to INEC’s objections to TPAP’s name and logo on the one hand, and INEC’s guidelines regarding time-lines for the 2023 General Elections, TPAP-M INSC settled for building an electoral alliance with registered political parties of the left—PRP and Labour Party. TPAP-M’s reconciliation efforts in PRP were not successful; that left TPAP-M with only the option of the Labour Party and with a segment of PRP with full commitment to socialist transformation, and SPN, both of whom were not recognised by INEC.

The Labour Party, although registered for electoral purposes is factionalized and debilitated by litigation concerning the determination of which faction constitutes the legitimate Labour Party. Having regard to the bright prospects of working with, and for, the Labour Party towards recovering it from the transactional quagmire it was in, and with the possibility of at least, hoisting the flag of Socialist Transformation, TPAP-M participated actively in the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes that reconciled the two factions of the Labour Party.

While engaging in the pursuit of the recovery of the Labour Party, TPAP-M engaged actively in discussions with the two centres of organized labour—the Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria [TUCN]. The discussions were particularly deep with TUC at the Political Roundtable of which the lead papers were, presented by two members of the TPAP-M Secretariat Collective who also became members of the TUC Political Education Committee [TUC-PEC] chaired by Comrade Ayo Olorunfemi. Assignments were given to sub-committees of TUC-PEC including drafting of a policy document—some sort of political manifesto. That was the last TPAP-M heard from TUC-PEC! Meanwhile, agreements were said to have been reached between the two factions of the LP brokered by members of TPAP-M INSC, NLC and TUC.

TPAP-M at this point decided to engage with the Labour Party mobilizing around TPAP-M draft manifesto for socialist transformation along with NLC’s Nigerian Workers’ Charter of Demands notwithstanding the obvious and unattended question of who NLC’s ‘Demands’ were directed at! TPAP-M, consequently, agreed to also mobilize working people for LP membership. The decision by TPAP-M to mobilize around a Socialist Transformation of Nigeria was strategic because of the TPAP-M’s objection to the extant LP manifesto which is fully neo-liberal and with a top-down strategy of mobilization!

TPAP-M thus saw the labour movement, pre-eminently organized labour, as the sole and strategic partners in the struggle to recover the Labour Party. But all this was in the ambience of moves by organized labour about to strike an alliance with political forces that traditionally and studiously distanced themselves from the day-to-day struggles of Nigeria’s working class. These forces surfaced variously as the National Consultative Front (NCFront) 

 or simply Third Force! And suddenly, social media was inundated with news of NCF’s mega-party [third force] entering the Labour Party along with PRP, TPAP-M etc. The TPAP-M Secretariat Collective issued a disclaimer that the claim of the involvement of TPAP-M in the NCF Mega Party agenda was false!

In spite of the decision that the Joint Political Commission of NLC and TUC would open an online portal and print hard copies of registration forms for Labour Party membership, none of these actually materialized.

Written communications to the labour centres requesting further discussions on how to link up with their political commissions at state and local government levels were merely acknowledged without any follow-up arrangements for meetings.

The Labour Party then announced modalities for collecting nomination forms which fixed the price for presidential candidates at N30 million. Objections to such scandalous conditions were ignored completely by the “leaders” of the Labour Party that we were struggling to recover. An unidentified millionaire business Moghul was actually said to have collected a N30 million Labour Party form for Presidential candidature! The mega party that was announced to have adopted the Labour Party for the 2023 elections also announced to have, unknown to TPAP-M, set up a panel to screen candidates!

The Labour Party that we thought we were struggling to recover thus proceeded with collaborators that were unknown to TPAP-M. The content of the Pandora Box became fully opened with the announcement that Peter Obi of PDP left this party to pursue his Presidential ambition in the Labour Party! Suffice it to say that evidence is also emerging that what is touted as resolution of the crisis of the Labour Party that we thought can be recovered is a case of layers of conspiracies among elements of organized labour and those they sold the Labour Party to years ago!

Now that, as usual, Labour Party is to be led by millionaire PDP and APC people who are pursuing their political ambitions, its recoverability for the labour movement is, at least for now, completely vitiated. Consequently pursuing the recovery of this Labour Party has become a distraction for TPAP-M!

As if the unceremonious, and clearly open-ended, welcoming a PDP chieftain to the Labour Party by leaders of the Labour Party and the labour centres was not sufficiently anti-worker, an equally unceremonious cloak-and-dagger “primary” of the Labour Party was rigged up, and endorsed, Peter Obi as the Labour Party’s 2023 Presidential “at-least-N30 million” Presidential candidate; barely four days after Peter Obi left PDP!

As the situation stands, it is unimaginable that the actually existing Labour Party, whose leaders’ behaviours  fall far short of even the notoriously fraudulent processes of ruling class parties, can be touted as a party of Nigeria’s working people. TPAP-M hoped, with the Nigerian working people, to recover what we hoped could become a party for the liberation of the oppressed. However, segments of organized labour have completely compromised our efforts such that even with the continued commitment of some of the labour leaders and activists, recovering the Labour Party is, for now, a lost cause!

The fundamental lesson of the current circumstance is that TPAP-M needs to be further strengthened, as an autonomous mass working people’s movement and platform, to enable Nigeria’s working people, and the labour movement generally, to more independently pursue the liberation and freedom from oppression. The condition for this liberation is the continued enhancement of the capacity of the masses of our people to force concessions from the ruling class and their collaborators via mass organization and actions! These day-to-day responses of the masses will proceed, of course, without the movement losing focus of the strategic goal of the taking of state power from the ruling class and using that power to build a new and better society.


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