AAC Has Been Consistent With Social Transformation Agenda – Komolafe

Comrade Gbenga Komolafe, a social activist, is the Co-Convener, Coalition for Revolution (CORE), as well as the General Secretary, Federation of Informal Workers’ Organisations of Nigeria (FIWON). In this chat with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he speaks on the possibility of the current political parties and their candidates effecting social transformation as being envisioned by Nigerians. Except:

You have been part of several talks about system change in the country. To what extent are Nigerians imbibing this idea? 

Nigerians are victims of the global information asymmetry. Few western corporations control information flows; CNN, REUTERS, AFP, VOA, BBC and a few others. They project news and interpret same strictly from their western self-serving viewpoint. Just one example and our local media simply regurgitate them. It is okay for the US to violently overthrow governments that disagree with it, impose killing sanctions, bomb and destroy scores of governments and countries that disagree with it, but a capital crime for Russia to say, ‘Look, we can’t continue to tolerate a situation whereby a smaller neighbouring country is armed to continually destroy areas in Eastern parts of the country just for being Russian speaking’. For over eight years, since 2014, the Russian people of the Donbas region of Ukraine has been subjected to ceaseless shelling by the Ukrainian government. Millions have relocated to Russia as refugees over the past eight years. Their language, Russian has been banned by Ukraine puppet government. Yet not a ‘pim’ of that is reported by the West. Russia now invades Ukraine in a limited military campaign. The west is imposing horrible sanctions on Russia, and is arming Ukraine to the tune of over $100 billion to fight Russia in a dangerous proxy war that may spell the doom of humanity. Our local media, taking a cue from their western masters, have faithfully reported this contemporary event strictly from the western viewpoint. The only saving grace is that we now have alternative news outlets such as YouTube. But, how many people bother to find out the truth? Like somebody said, we think what we hear, see and read. So, the thinking faculty of most Nigerians, including the elites, is shaped by the western media! It is tragic because it makes the critical duty of political education extremely difficult. Disaster neo liberal capitalism is destroying us. But, we are conditioned to defend it! So, it is possible to actually die defending one’s most chronic enemy. That is our reality, unfortunately. Conversely, because people of our ideological persuasion are so few and have little control and access to the media, the imperative of system change is lost on most Nigerians. Rather, Nigerians would rather express their frustrations over a system that is killing them only in divisive primordial terms of ethnic and religious contradictions. It is pathetic.

Would you say that Nigerians have really got to the level of understanding where they can jettison the old order through their votes in 2023? 

In my honest opinion, the political superstructure is set up in such a way that there is very little hope of any serious change come 2023. Like Professor Claude Ake of blessed memory once argued, western styled democracy that we have internalised as the only form of governance, albeit in a most distorted and grotesque fashion, is basically anti-development. Every income we make as a nation is stolen. They borrow money and steal it, partly to fund hopeless elections in a four-year ritual cycle that is getting nobody anywhere. If you cannot bribe your way with billions of dollars from ward primaries to national elections, with people left to choose among the big thieves that emerge from such atrocious, alienating and plutocratic processes, you got no chance. Conversely, the real, committed patriots that try to organise and fight the dominant ruling cliques are perceived as at best, mere gadflies without any prospects of really making any headway in the ‘elections’. They got no billions to bribe their way through the electoral process. Many people that would have loved to use their vote to change things see this reality and keep off the entire process.

Why is it that all the Pro-masses groups and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have not yet been able to indicate one political party they are backing to be able to effect the proper transform the nation? Or, do you think they have tacitly agreed with the NLC and TUC to adopt Labour Party? 

The present Labour Party since its inception in the early 2000s, have been run in such a way that only the big money politicians that lose out of the APC-PDP politicking are accommodated and allowed to run on its platforms. The LP and its labour aristocratic patrons have refused to encourage and mobilise workers and worker-friendly individuals to take control of the organs of the party and turn it into a mass party of genuine change. Rather, they trade elective positions in the party to the highest bidders. So, in reality, the LP has evolved in a way that it is not significantly different from the dominant APC-PDP. Within this context, a lot of pro-working people groups are bifurcated. Some support the LP because they think there is at least some little hope left in it. Some are really indifferent, while others are trying to influence things in it. But, the LP, tragically, has evolved as a mere extension of the hopelessness of the dominant money driven (rather than idea driven) bourgeois politicking we have in the country.

Considering the actors in the current unfolding political dispensation, which candidates and platforms will you want Nigerians to support and vote for bearing in mind their visibility, abilities to carry people along, mobilise and convince the different strata of the society? 

So far, it is only the AAC that has remained consistent in taking on the putrid political establishment with a very bold programme of social transformation. The tragedy remains the fact that most Nigerians are not yet educated about the party’s programmes precisely for the reasons we have highlighted before. The mass media is owned, run, and managed by the ruining class. So, they conveniently shunt out pro people platforms like AAC from mass consciousness.

It is a common expression now that the citizens will be voting for individuals or personalities and not political parties as was the case in the past. Based on your understanding of the political terrain, which candidate do you think may carry the day at the elections and why? 

I don’t know which past you refer to. Politics have always been run in this country on political party basis, along fluid ideological lines which often get bifurcated by ethnic and religious polarisation. In the First Republic, you are either AG or NPC or NCNC or NEPU, or you identify with the ideological alliances they formed i.e. APGA or NNA and in the Second Republic, the same scenario played out. The tragedy of the moment is that there is no discernible ideological difference between APC-PDP or the Peter Obi’s LP. Obi’s LP has, for instance, not expressed any commitment to do anything differently from the way it is being done in the past 23 years. Obi wants to remove ‘petro subsidies’ just like the APC-PDP. He has not committed himself to serious investment in human capital; education and health. No fresh idea about job creation. Nothing. The overriding parameter of mobilisation remains primordial sentiments. Which individuals are we talking about within this context?

What type of National Assembly do you think will emerge from the current political moves across the country and how may this impact on the new government? 

The next National Assembly is going to be as hopeless as ever, from every indication. The only party I can see saying something really different has little chance of getting its candidates through because they do not have the type of money to buy journalists, police, thugs, hire party agents across thousands of polling units, etc, like the establishment parties. I think where we are now, it is ‘the only way, the hard way’ of serious politicisation of the political process, that is getting people to understand that the political process is rigged against them and so must be dismantled and genuinely democratised.