REVOLUTION IN BURKINA FASO! *
NEITHER THE ARMY NOR THE PARLIAMENT REPRESENT THE PEOPLE! WE SUPPORTT THE WORKERS!
27 years and16 days after he murdered Thomas Sankara and took over power, Blaise Compaoré was disgraced out of office as President of Burkina Faso. Workers and youth across the length and breadth of the country rose up in one accord against his attempt at continued self-perpetuation, insisting that enough is enough!
This uprising might be a foretaste of revolutions that could sweep through West Africa in what many have started calling the “Black Spring” already. There are lessons for workers and youth in Nigeria to learn from the ongoing struggle in “the land of the incorruptible” (i.e. the meaning of Burkina Faso in English).
A major lesson is that the ruling class will not fold its hands allow the revolutionary working people to walk away with power after victory over some particular elite (or section of elite) or the other.
The army has already taken “control” of the state, in an attempt to stabilise it, after infighting within the military that eventually threw up Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida, as the new “strongman” of the bosses.
This is why revolutionary activists as the most vibrant fighters within the working people and youth need to build revolutionary organisations that can lead the masses in the struggle to win power from the bosses. Triumphant revolutions are not possible without the interplay of diverse organisations of the working masses and youths taking decisive mass actions. Revolutionary organisation serves as the cement for holding these building blocks of a new social order together.
Uprisings tend to start spontaneously, when we look at the surface. In Nigeria for example, the first sparks of revolt on January 2, 2012, were protests by young people angered by the sharp hike in fuel price.
But it is important to note that large revolts do not just appear from the blues. They reflect the concentration of mass activities like strikes, demonstrations and marches weeks, months and even years before the tidal waves of revolutionary movement burst the seams of power asunder like what recently happened in Burkina Faso.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, and in particular Nigeria, there is mass anger waiting to burst out. There is likelihood with the “do-or-die” partisanship of the bosses as the 2015 elections draw near that it could lead to a political explosion. The challenge that would face us is that which faces our comrades in Burkina Faso today, to fight against every section of the ruling class.
Socialist Workers League thus stands against the military junta in Ouagadougou. But, unlike the African Union, we affirm that the working people of Burkina Faso did not kick out Compaoré to hand over power to another boss on the basis of a constitution of the ruling class. We call for the revolution in permanence. A provisional government of the working people resting on Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in workplaces and communities is the only guarantee for the self-emancipation of the downtrodden. And this would inspire the poor and working masses across Africa in the unfolding period of ceaseless struggle.
SWL Symposium on LP
The symposium organised by the SWL Abuja branch on The Labour Party and the Working Class: Which Way Forward? held on October 30 at the Labour House Auditorium had over 70 persons in attendance.
They were mainly workplace representatives from 17 unions, while Comrade Lawrence Amaechi, Vice Chairman of the NLC FCT Council was a Special Guest of Honour. Other attendees included LP ward/area council leaders from Gwawgwalada and Kwali as well as civil society activists.
Lead speakers were Lucy Offiong (Vice President NLC), Abdullahi Yahaya (Chairman NLC FCT Council), Peter Adejobi (former LP FCT Chairman), Jaye Gaskiya (Coordinator Protest to Power Movement) and Baba Aye of the SWL. There were robust discussions on the theme from 12noon to 3.30pm.
Comrade Lucy set the ball rolling with a historic perspective of the formation and development of the Labour Party. She informed participants that the party was registered as Party for Social Democracy by NLC in 2002 and was renamed Labour Party in 2004. The leadership of the party since then, she said, distanced itself from the trade unions preferring to relate with members of the capitalist class.
She however assured everyone that NLC and TUC are poised to reclaim the party by calling on its National Executive Council to reschedule the LP Convention without the overbearing influence of PDP apologists inspired by Dr Olusegun Mimiko, governor of Ondo state.
Comrade Yahaya argued that the workers have to be the backbone of a Labour Party for it to be a labour party in deed. He pointed out that workers can fund the LP as millions of workers paying N100 each per month as membership subscription would amount to hundreds of naira for building the party.
He expressed the full commitment of the NLC FCT Council to the building of a working class-based Labour Party with other progressive forces.
Comrade Peter was of the view that the blame for the alleged derailing of the LP leadership from the set vision of the trade unions lies with the trade unions themselves. According to him, they abandoned the party, with most labour leaders not being members of the party.
He gave an example of Comrade Oshiomhole who is an APC governor to buttress his position. He rounded up by saying the only way to reclaim the LP is for workers to join it en masse first and foremost, and for the trade unions to fund the party and learn how to play politics.
Comrade Jaye stressed the need for NLC and TUC to have short-term, mid-term and long-term plans for reclaiming the LP. He advised that participating in the 2015 general elections should be off the cards as the first thing is to reorient the party ideologically. Work should then be done towards positioning the party to play a decisive role in the 2019 general elections.
Baba Aye emphasized the need for a working people’s party to be one that will be part and parcel of, and give leadership to, all struggles of workers, poor farmers, the urban poor and other strata of the exploited and oppressed people. For this to be possible there is the need for such a labour party to be built on the basis of a socialist programme. Referring to the NLC policy on “Labour and Politics” adopted by the 8th National Delegates Conference in 2003, he pointed out that this position had actually been theoretically arrived at earlier by the trade unions but was put aside in practice.
He noted that the crossroads we are in now regarding party-building by the working class should be seized without equivocation, and called for decisive steps by the trade unions on the way forward.
He further observed that the need for the most active and committed working class fighters to organise together in a revolutionary socialist organisation like the SWL within and beyond a mass workers party cannot be overemphasized.
This is because such groups play a central role in helping to raise the consciousness of working people by generalising their experiences in different struggles and continually pointing at the linkages of these to the ultimate goal of the working class’ self-emancipation.
22 participants joined the SWL at the end of the symposium, while 45 copies of Socialist Worker were sold.
Victory for Striking Workers at the Ministry of Education
The Federal Ministry of Education offices in the Abuja and all Federal Secretariats in the 36 states were shut down as workers went on an indefinite strike from September 17, until a victory was won on October 22. The action was called by the Association of Senior Civil Servants.
The demands included the payment of: outstanding arrears from 2007 to 2010 and the balance of 2011 promotion arrears, promotion arrears from 2012 to 2013, unpaid salaries for July-October 2013, end of year incentives and duty tour allowances, for workers, all of which amount to N1.8bn, that had been budgeted for, over the years.
In a show of solidarity, non-members of ASCSN, from NCSU and AUPCTRE in the ministry joined the strike, raising its potency and forcing the state to release the sum of N527.6m as the first tranche of money to defray payment of these accumulated wages and allowances, in instalments, from October to December 2014. This goes to confirm the saying that when we dare to struggle, we dare to win.
Members of SWL in the Ministry of Education participated actively in the strike across different states. SWL salutes ASCSN and indeed all unions in the civil service on this partial victory, even as we call on them to remain vigilante, as the bosses cannot be trusted. Workers united, cannot be defeated!
SWL elects new leadership
Members of the Socialist Workers League from all over the country gathered at the IMB NUPENG branch guest house at Challenge, Ibadan for the 3rd National Convention of the League on October 31 to November 2, 2014. There were intense discussions on the international situation, the national situation, the students’ movement and struggles of women in the trade unions and informal economy.
A new Central Committee was elected, with Comrade Abiodun Olamosu as National Chairperson, while the Editorial Board was reconstituted as well with Comrade Baba Aye elected as Chair of the Editorial Board.