The tyrannical logic of the comrades, By Nasiru Suwaid

Nasiru Suwaid
Nasiru Suwaid

“The premier electricity workers’ union in the country thinks the only way of safeguarding itself, against the obviously obstinate administrators is to punish the hapless consumer”

I am an interested interloper within the expansive realm of global ideological politics. This is perhaps not totally surprising since I am always fascinated with the history of the short period of Nigeria’s political existence as well as its political struggles and the eventual gaining of independence, initiated and advocated by persons of disparate ideological leanings and bearings.

The independence movement was never conducted along a clear ideological line. As such, you could easily find a dyed in the wool progressive consorting and conspiring with an arch-conservative to promote actions and activities that galvanize the populace to seek for freedom from the oppressive shackles of colonialism. Yet still, it has always been drummed unto our ears that the chasm between the different ideologies are a reality never breached. Thus, whenever I co-habit a space with individuals holding such strong ideological beliefs, I always get mystified on the logic of leading such a complicated life.

Indeed, of all the ideological groups I have encountered in life, two have always stood out in their irrational fervor for an argument that confuses a sensible mind. Within the capitalist fold, the Republican Party of the United States of America visibly stands out as one of such group, with the self-righteous temerity and effrontery to advocate to the poor for their approval, a campaign on the reduction of taxes for the rich, while the other lesser income earners forgo such a profitable grace.

The basic idea and argument is that an industrial entrepreneur unencumbered with the burden of perennial heavy payments to the government as revenue source, finds the extra cash at their disposal as a motivational incentive, to further invest on their business organization, thus creating more production output and greater availability of goods in the society, which ultimately stimulates more trade and commerce, thereby resulting in a more prosperous and wealth national community. Moreover, an entrepreneur uninhibited with excessive returns to revenue authorities, who is able to increase mass industrial output, finds the necessity to employ more workers, creating alternative taxation opportunity through Pay as You Earn (PAYE) and Value Added Tax (VAT) options.

But, could a lesser buoyant income earner understand the crux of an argument which entails the miserable poor subsidizing the economist projections on the rich; an expectation that is an extremely hard sell in an ever cynical world, populated mostly by the infamous ninety nine percent poor of the Wall Street occupy movement, who simply do not trust the rich, the policy maker, the politician, administrators and individuals representing the oppressive state apparatus.

Unfortunately, that is the burden which lays before the Republican Party; to convince the American people in less than a hundred days, on the reasons why they are a better option than the Democrats in the White House, with the tasking logic even an ideologue would dread to debate.

However, it is the other group that takes the trophy for unbelievable impudence in argument, represented by the obstinate dogmatic stance of the Chinese in their sticking to the unfashionable mantra of a communist ideology, when the world community has since consigned its fate and progress to the dustbin of history, at the altar of the profit driven free market economy.

As far as the global community is concerned, the fact about the people is that they are characteristically selfish, always driven to excel by pure greed and the dream of obtaining and attaining wealth, through whichever way that justifies the means.

Thus, whenever I see a Chinese who is a strict adherent of the communist ideology at home, exploring the anti-communal opportunities of the decadent capitalist orientation abroad, which depicts of crass primitive accumulation of wealth, the thought which always comes to mind is whether not only me, but even the great Chairman Mao would have found such logic hypocritically confusing.

It is upon the premise of such a scenario that the acts and activities of the leadership of two of the foremost labour movements in Nigeria, the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG), became an issue, especially in the past two months. Actually, it is intrinsically connected to the implementation and practical application of another ideological orientation, which is the transformation agenda of the current Nigerian administration that has as its core basis the privatization of unproductive and inefficient government companies, while imbibing the necessary and fundamental behavioral trait of transparency in transaction and interactions between governmental agencies and the private sector.

Unfortunately the unions do not like the stated agenda. While there is nothing wrong in a worker’s organization holding a divergent opinion with its employer or even using every legitimate means to seek for the reversal of a policy, which if implemented could cause unnecessary hardship to its membership, the premier electricity workers’ union in the country thinks the only way of safeguarding itself, against the obviously obstinate administrators is to punish the hapless consumer.

Thus, whenever a glitch occurs in its negotiation with the government’s team, the hasty threat is to switch off the lights and punish the general populace for a crime they did not commit. The grand irony though is that this mass organization seeks, courts, and expects the understanding of electrical power hungry Nigerians, in its ideological battle with the collective might of the federal state. After all, it is difficult enough to convince an average person on the evils of privatization, when the operational management of governmental corporations in Nigeria, perpetually equals inefficiency, corruption and system collapse.

However, it is the petroleum and natural gas workers union which took the cream off the cherry in such hypocritical thinking, with their last impromptu strike covering only the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, which crippled most of the activities within the city and caused an untold amount of hardship on the inhabitants of the government’s seat of power.

The declared industrial action was a proactive advocacy effort, to force the authorities to pay the indicted and much maligned fuel subsidy companies their unverified dues, their argument being the failure of the government to honor the contracts sums, indirectly forces such company to lay off workers, which within all logical explanation falls on the purview of diligent labour leadership, who only had the honest interest of its membership at all instance. Surely a Nigerian first, when a benevolent workers union fought the legal battles of some complicit entrepreneurs, including a clarion call for the write-off and renegotiation of their bad loans from the banks.