By Comrade Abdulkadir Isa
For a devoted theoretician of the working class paradigm in politics and who translated the gender question genuinely in relationship with his souls mate – Bene, an occasion like today’s provides a unique opportunity to endorse what he struggled against, especially the “low profile” midwifed by the regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo, President Shehu Shagari’s Enabling Act of 1981 popularly known as the “Austerity Measures” and the adoption Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). It is also to categorically acknowledge what he stated in the pamphlet Nigeria: The Economy and the People: The political economy of state robbery and its popular democratic negation.
According to comrade “Eddie” which we grew in the struggle to hear his contemporaries address him, “the pamphlet was directed as a response to the explanations which the Nigerians ruling class gave to the “economic crises” which Nigerians were told their country was passing through in 1982.
The aim of the response is not just to expose the bankruptcy of the neo-colonial economy – which is our everyday task- but more specifically, to expose particular hypocrisy of the ruling class and its agencies and functionaries, namely: that while the country and the world were being told that Nigeria was passing through a severe economic crises engendered by a shortfall in oil revenue, the Nigerian bourgeoisie and their imperialist allies were busy looting the recourses of the country more recklessly than ever.
The only revolutionary conclusion to be drawn from this documentation of “state robbery” is that the Nigerian bourgeois class is an integral part of the country’s economic problem or that part whose solution is a precondition for the solution of the entire problem. In other words, to begin to solve this problem, that is, to initiate the struggle that will institute a more egalitarian, mass-oriented and democratic economic order, the bourgeoisie as a class must be removed from power. This will initiate the period of revolutionary transition from the regime of “state robbery”. Either the bourgeoisie as a class and not just a section of it is removed from power or they will be compelled to institute even more repressive forms of race to keep the masses in check. He, therefore, proposed an immediate program of struggle. This is the struggle for better democracy conceived as the immediate and transitional negation of the political economy of state robbery and the political regime sustaining it.
Indeed “power is the question of every revolution” and “it is a tool of achieving social and economic objectives. It is a fact “history has known many forms of power and ways to acquiring it. The circumstances under which a class achieves power and the form of power it assumes always depend on concrete circumstances. In explicit terms, Comrade Eddie stated that popular democracy as against the democracy of the exploiters would embrace
- The right for every citizen to work and receive remunerations according to terms agreed upon between workers and employers, whether the employer is private or public;
- The right of every citizen including the aged and disabled to be placed on adequate national income
- The right of every citizen to receive at public expense, basic health care, education and accommodation.
- The promotion and extension of collective popular needs, for example, good roads, communication, public transportation, water and electricity supplies, means of social and cultural relaxation, etc.
- The social equality of all ethnic groups in theory and in practice
- Unfettered struggle against the oppression of women
- The right and power of the popular masses, both individuals and corporate bodies to enforce the rights (1)-(6) above, politically and if necessary, through agitation, protests and strikes
- The right of popular masses to continue to struggle against all surviving forms of exploitation, discrimination, oppression, injustice corruption and for higher forms of democracy namely socialist and communist democracy
Though, this is by no means, an exhaustive list of possible or desirable features of popular democracy according to Comrade Eddie, they are certainly indicative of how a future popular-democratic Nigeria would be different from the present inhuman society, at least from the point of view of those who suffer now. In his “Conclusion” of the pamphlet, he unambiguously posted that “a well-organized and coordinated popular democracy struggle will rapidly, acquire an authentic voice, sharply distinguished from the muffled voice of confused petty-bourgeois liberals who are now masquerading as revolutionists in bourgeoisie parties” What we can gather from this pamphlets are :
- A counter narrative to the dominant paddle by the ruling class needs to be fathomed
- Not only the essence of this approach must be captured but the direction of the processes leading towards it needs to be dialectically understood
- A coherent demand by popular forces should be put forward and pursued with vigor, that is the essential pre-condition of vanquishing the extant order by progressive forces, the emerging social forces obstructed by class discrimination
- These demands might be the “the satisfaction of which will undermine our peculiar capitalism, its features and enhance the processes of generating the material pre-requested for supplying it”
- Essentially, like Rosa Luxemburg said “a better world will not be donated to us, we have to fight for it and it is desirable to appreciate ‘nobody can fight capitalism alone’. We need an organization as the challenges of progressive politics and resolving the national question can only be carried out cognitively and with a program that states the specific task and how to accomplish them.
We can call this the moment to validate comprehension of contradictions as a process present in material reality. I want, at this juncture, to congratulate Comrade Eddie and his wife. History has certainly acknowledged your steps on its sand of time.
I wish you more happy returns
Cde Isa wrote from Kano