The shaky take-off of on-going attempt at protesting energy price hike has prompted veteran activist, Comrade Abdulkadir Isah, to say that the fundamental way forward for radical politics in Nigeria is making Chapter Two of the existing 1999 Constitution enforceable. Speaking to Intervention from his Borno base, the former student leader says making Chapter Two justiciable now is the only way to make Nigeria a nation state rather than the state nation he says it presently is. He is, therefore, asking the National Assembly to forget any review of the Constitution that is not about making Chapter Two of the Constitution justiciable.
“When Chapter Two is made justiciable, we would have created a democratic bourgeois state”, he says. Explaining why a bourgeois democratic state is more important and urgent now than popular democracy, he argues it is because Nigeria has not reached the stage to do away with the bourgeoisie. “We still need the state to create the economy that will then create the basis for our transition to the next stage” goes his argument.
According to him, when Chapter Two of the Constitution is made enforceable, that would create a contest of the space between the social forces in this country. One consequence of that would be that political mobilisation would become ideological rather than North, South, East or West as it presently is. Secondly, it would also bring about a new model of development in which victims of globalisation would come together to transform it in a manner that speaks to control of the country’s resources independent of external forces. The two consequences would, in his assessment, lead to where concern about the economy would go beyond growth to Nigeria becoming an asset to globalisation rather than its slaves.
Comrade Isah is deeply worried that Nigerians have lost sovereign control of the Nigerian State and that everyone can see this in the fact that, as he puts it, many Nigerians simply do not see anything worth it in the country any longer. It is the loss of sovereignty that creates that negative orientation, he says.
Speaking on how making Chapter Two enforceable would checkmate that drift, he says it would compel all political parties to subscribe to the provisions of the Chapter as a requirement for being registered. In his argument, that is not the situation today because the parties are committed to nothing and mobilise nobody on anything substantial about the soul of the nation. “Instead of mobilising the people on substantive issues, they (political parties) create artificial acrimony among different ethnic groups and religions even when they (the parties) are pursuing one objective of power for power sake”, said Isah.
Most Nigerian radicals, Socialists and progressive politicians, especially in the Second Republic believe that Chapter Two of the existing 1999 Constitution is actually a Socialist manifesto and that not much more than that is required to make Nigeria Socialist.
Comrade Isah’s position is much more advanced than that position, being more about national democratic revolution stuff than anything. This was the consensus in the struggle for a Sovereign National Conference around 1991 in Nigeria. It is difficult to say if such a consensus still exists as was the case then when the National Conference movement was a more thorough coalition including prominent members of the technocratic bourgeoisie. They were all there when the Babangida administration locked the National Theatre and dispersed potential participants in Lagos.
The question now is whether there are still members of the main fractions of the bourgeoisie that understand the case for national democratic revolution and if any mobilisation work to build a thorough going pan-Nigerian coalition has been carried out among them beyond ‘Facebook Revolutions’. Most observers would argue there have been no such giant coalitions based on contingent interpretation of contradictions in recent years. The shaky start of on-going attempt at protesting energy price hike is certainly instructive in that respect.