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Perspectives On The General Elections In Nigeria

By Raimi Akegbejo, International Liaison Personnel of the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (RSV), Nigerian Section of the RCIT. 17th February, 2023.

1. General elections in Nigeria kick off in a matter of days. The developments surrounding the elections proceed in the midst of the zig-zags of a capitalist system in revolutionary crises. Steeped in the period following the economic meltdown/crunch of 2008/09, political unrest has peaked on every continent since 2019 but not before the upswing in popular uprisings pushed the world ruling class to adopt bonapartism (as opposed to neoliberalism). This was the general context that led to the emergence of president Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. Faced with brewing civil unrest; an economy buckling under the weight of imperialist exploitation and the burgeoning southward advance of the Salafist northern forces. Only a former military Head of State and potentate of northern conservatism, can hold the center.

2. Today and 8 years later, these factors have worsened disproportionately. Nigeria’s neo-colonial economy has been battered by consecutive blows from the 2nd Great Depression which began in 2019; the COVID-19 Lockdowns and travel bans through 2020 to 2021; and the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia since February 2022. The settler colonialist structure is now more than ever frail and shows signs of near collapse as the asymmetric war of the Salafist Fulani militias enters a crescendo. Add to these the smoldering embers of the EndSARS protests of 2020 which may spark a conflagration of mass insurrection at any turn. All of these dramatic changes combine to leave the settler colonialist Northern hegemon, the gate keepers of neo-colonial Nigeria, isolated and weak. Even their imperialist masters have sidelined them while they are in a fierce rivalry with the southern factions of the Nigerian ruling class.

3. Before the last quarter of 2022, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had the highest chance of emergence since the incumbent government has all the resources to rig the elections in favour of their candidate. However it seems that the scales may have tipped in favour of the most popular candidate, Peter Obi, with tacit/indirect support from the northern faction of the ruling class. This they did through the naira redesign policy which saw millions of people deposit their cash money in banks but were left stranded as they could not withdraw the newly redesigned notes at the same banks.¹

4. This continues to spark pockets of protests in the previous weeks in different states across the country.² In short, it was a recapitulation of the scenes at commercial banks in Lebanon last year September as some went to the banks with machetes while others reportedly stripped naked in the banking halls in protest. Alongside this policy of cash drought that has exacerbated hardship for Nigerians to level indescribable through writing, is the fuel scarcity that has spiked the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in the country.³ Even now the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has issued a warning to commercial banks that the old notes will no longer serve as legal tender and fuelling stations have begun rejecting the old notes.⁴

5. It is true that one of the prime motives for this policy of currency redesign is the plummeting value of the naira against the Dollar. At the parallel market the naira already sells at about 700 to the dollar. The Buhari regime seeks to improve the strength of the naira against the dollar by making it scarce. In other words it is a mechanical drive towards the imposition of the so-called cashless policy where transactions would now be done through electronic means so as to increase demand for the naira. This has been the recurring feature in the monetary and banking sectors of other semi-colonial countries this period. Just remember that a similar thing occurred in Lebanon as earlier referenced.⁵ Last year, Ghana was declared bankrupt by official data leading to a performative outcry from Akufo-Addo, the Ghanaian president, for reparations from former colonisers.

6. But the timing of this policy amongst other things raises lots of questions. Questions which are easily explained through Buhari’s bonapartism but even this bonapartism cannot be properly situated without his origin from the core-north — a basis for his history as a “disciplinarian” military Head of State in the ’80’s. The same “strong character” which makes him loathe Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a crime lord especially one from an ethnonation down south. So while acknowledging how the economic regression may have spurred such a policy, it is the chauvinism of the northern faction of the ruling class that explains why a regime would impose such a self destructive policy when the elections are just weeks away.

7. The South Western faction of the ruling class correctly recognises this as an attack on Tinubu’s candidacy. Tinubu himself has repeatedly claimed that a cabal in Aso Rock is working to scuttle his chances of emerging as president.⁶ The speaker of the House of representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, another stalwart in the South Western faction has threatened to reconvene the Green Chamber to summon the CBN governor Godwin Emefiele.⁷

8. Even the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the main opposition until now, has not been spared by this political crises between the north-south factions of the ruling class. The so called G-5 governors of the southern states where PDP holds power have refused to support the party’s presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar.⁸

9. Some analysts have diagnosed the currency impasse and fuel scarcity as an attempt to spark civil unrest such that the elections can be postponed while an interim government is constituted or so that a military coup can ensue.⁹ Both being ploys of the northern hegemon to with-hold power. This seems unlikely as any attempt to set up an interim government or stage a coup will be fully resisted by the Southern factions of the ruling class. Moreso, there were several chances last year for them to have used their non-state auxiliaries to do this but the Buhari administration is not as tough as it is made out to be. What is more plausible is that the northern hegemon isolated, weakened and with their imperialist masters also supporting the Obi project they have bought into it.

10. Obi’s presidency is better for them than the most powerful politician of Southern extraction who they can hardly control. Any of these scenarios is possible but only the latter is more practicable, the former two can lead to mass insurrection and a civil war. It is important to point out that these perspectives are based on the present concrete conditions and may change even before the remaining days of the elections run out. Last year we stated that the embattled head of the south western ruling class had very little chances of emerging and that the northern ruling class would hold on to power by a coup; a terrorist take over or otherwise, but the situation changed in the same year and he became the front runner. However the scales have changed again and may favour the most popular candidate Peter Obi with the acquiescence of the northern ruling class. This is the rundown of the zig-zags in the interplay of ruling class schisms in a period of deepening capitalist crises with its attendant political upheaval.

The Character of Post-Election Administrations

11. It remains to be seen how effective these plots and counterplots will reflect in the general elections since the northern faction too is not totally free from or cannot come out blatantly against the Tinubu led faction. However there has been a trend of electoral victories of left populist and left reformist forces in the semi-colonial world majorly Latin America. Yet no sooner had these populist forces emerged did they get enmeshed in deep crises, first Chile and now Peru. The bourgeois populist Peter Obi who enjoys the backing of Western imperialism is sure to face the same fate should he emerge.

12. Obi’s administration would be one riddled with an escalated infestation of the problems at the founding of Nigeria has a country. The asymmetric war of the Salafist Fulani is sure to expand causing unwanted consequences in its wake. The worst Obi can do about their push southward is to invite foreign (Western) mercenaries, strengthening the imperialist grip on Nigeria through a Western or otherwise military base.
In fact post election crises may simply lead to the undoing of Obi’s administration. The court ruling against Sen. Adeleke, the PDP candidate in Osun, where the electorate’s (delusional) hopes of change were dashed may be proverbial of Obi’s future. He may even become the Pedro Castillo of Africa.

13. The alternative is for him to not only turn a blind eye to the economic and otherwise strengthening of the northern faction of the ruling class but to give it tacit support. Effectively, Obi’s presidency will give a southern face to northern settler colonialism until they regroup properly and he is no longer needed. For this is exactly why he enjoys support from Western imperialism to keep a lid on the campaign for a free and independent Biafra thereby sustaining the neo-colonial structure of Nigeria a little while longer.

14. A Tinubu presidency will be nothing short of what his campaign trail has been. From the time of declaring his presidential ambition and through his emergence as the flag bearer of APC at the party primaries, he and the whole South Western faction of the ruling class have been in a thug of war with the northern hegemon. This would characterise his administration should he emerge as president. Both will only deepen the cataclysm that Nigeria is embroiled in.

Revolutionary Program For The Coming Period

15. Revolutionaries must join every genuine campaign against the disastrous naira redesign policy. We must call for a removal of all deadlines regarding the new-old currency swap and for the old notes to be accepted for all transactions and at the banks for deposit and withdrawal. It is possible for this or that politician/candidate to sponsor protests against the policy if they evaluate that it runs contrary to their political ambitions. Even so, given the current level of hardship and confusion in the country the element of mass discontent cannot be a limited or minute factor in any protests going forward. Moreso, the campaign against this wicked policy must lend no political support to any politician or candidate since the emergence of none of them can resolve the current crises. It goes without saying that they do not care for the people, they only want more power through which they can oppress the masses.

16. The currency swap policy shows how the banks are a tool of capitalist machinations and how important it is for the banks to be under workers and poor peasant control. Finally the fuel shortage and cash drought have their roots in the neo-colonial status of Nigeria.

17. That is why revolutionaries cannot throw their lot in with any party in next week’s elections which will in no way free the ethnonations in Nigeria from the fetters of imperialism. Even left populist forces such as the African Action Congress (AAC) should not be lended any political support because of its strong social patriotism (left [reformist] slogans but underlying loyalty to the settler colonial neo-colonial One-Nigeria) by which it reduces the call for self determination to mere campaign rhetorics of “restructuring”.

18. Paying only lip-service to ethnic cleansing and the genocide of the Christian population that is still active in the Middle Belt,¹⁰ the strong social patriotic sympathy of the AAC has led them into an alliance with the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) another left wing but social chauvinist party.¹¹ Neither of these parties are willing to fight the imperialist West and their proxies, the northern hegemon. Alas, the national composition of their candidates is the same as that of the rest bourgeois parties — one southern and one northern politician.

19. We reiterate our support for all groups calling for the boycott of the elections as means to dismantle the neo-colonial constitution called Nigeria. These have been especially self determination activists and movements for the national liberation of Southern ethnic nationalities. Most notably the Simon Ekpa (Autopilot) faction of the IPOB which is calling for Sit-At-Home boycotts in Biafra/South Eastern Nigeria. It is important to separate the correctness of such a position of boycott from the methods used to achieve it. Just like resistance to the naira swap policy where banks have attacked and set ablaze, the remonstrance of the masses sometimes takes a raw, militant and even anarchist form. The same can be said of the disagreeable methods of achieving Sit-At-Home boycotts.

20. For us the boycotts should be as a result of popular campaigns not enforced by select vigilantes. While the Sit-At-Home boycotts have been a measure of tactical retreat in times of weakness to demand the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the arrested leader of the IPOB. It to become an impediment when the masses are ready to move. However the enforcement of Sit-At-Home boycotts has been carried out by the locals voluntarily without any supervision from the leadership of the movement. This shows the genuine nature of the struggle for self determination amongst the masses of the South East. And as such, the boycotts must not be condemned as reactionary like many left wing currents do. Rather such campaigns should be supported and democratically organised.

* No to Deadlines For the Currency Swap Or Use of Old Notes For Transactions! Put the Banks and Financial Institutions Under the Democratic Control of the Workers and the Popular Masses! Local Resource Control For All Minerals By the Ethnic Nations On Whose Land they Are Found!

* For Self Defence Militias to Stop The Genocide in the Middle Belt and parts of the South West! Defend Christians and Non-Muslims from the Salafist “Bandits” in the North and Middle Belt! Drive Out the Nigerian Military and Ebube Agu from the South East!

* Join the Campaign to Boycott the Elections Led By the Southern Movements For Self Determination! Defend IPOB (Autopilot)! Protect Simon Ekpa from the Nigerian and Finnish governments!

* Freedom And Self Determination To The Oppressed Ethnic Nationalities in the Middle Belt And South! Disband The Settler Colonial Neo-liberal Construct Called Nigeria! The Prospective Sovereign States Must Be Founded On A Socialist Basis To Be Free From Imperialist Exploitation!





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