Participants at Monday’s Colloquium in honour of Prof Abubakar Momoh, acclaimed professor of Political Theory have called for “Economic Restructuring” to ensure that the resources of the country are deployed to genuinely empower the people.”
“The elite is now deceiving the people that all we need to do to make Nigeria a better place is by “Restructuring” the polity. But you can’t talk about “Political Restructuring” without talking about “Economic Restructuring”, said Human Rights Activist, Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
He counselled that the working people and their allies must intervene in the raging discourse of the national question to prevent it from being hijacked by “strange bedfellows” arguing that if you give more powers to Governors without “democratisation” of the country’s wealth and resources, it’s going to be terrible.
Falana who was chairman of the event held at Main Auditorium of the Lagos State University, (LASU), Ojo said, “There’s no Governor who’s not more powerful than the President because they decide who becomes a Councillor to Senator.
Local Government system has collapsed, they have taken over the funds of the local governments, they also have security vote, they have become monsters”.
In spite of the shenanigans of the elite, he argued that the people must not shy away from the debate. “Let us join the debate by raising critical questions.
Can we restructure the economy by taking oil blocs from individuals and give them to the states and LGs?”, he quipped.
Reflecting on the neo-liberalist policies of the government which has seen the sale of vital public assets sold at pittance to friends and cronies, Falana said, “The government says there’s no money but it has set up Development and Agric banks which will end up giving loans to the same comprador bourgeoisie that has shared the resources of this country amongst its rank and held back its promise”.
Contending that the “Socialist Alternative” has been on the agenda since 1944 in Nigeria when students of King’s College, Lagos called a meeting that led to the formation of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC), Prof Omotoye Olorode who spoke on the main theme titled “Nigeria In Crisis: Rethinking Economic Policies And Posing Alternative Developmental And Political Options”, argued that the ascendancy of US President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister, Theresa May after the Brexit vote and Emmanuel Macron in France has sounded the death knell on “Social Democracy” in Europe and America.
“That you had Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn campaigning respectively in the US and the UK on the basis of a Socialist platform and making some significant strides is some pointer that we have no other alternative”, said Olorode, former chairman Academic Staff Union, Obafemi Awolowo branch.
“There’s nothing to re-think about the Socialist Alternative, Social Democracy has collapsed in Europe”. “Neo-liberal policies have been at the heart of all the crises of Nigeria”, he said.
“The elite sold the banks, roads, airports, power stations, airlines etc. They cancelled centralised feeding in the tertiary institutions and sacked 10,000 workers from the Catering Department. That’s why I laughed when the same elite said it wanted to feed the students in the primary and secondary schools”.
“We are now confronted by political, economic, social and cultural disaster. We need therefore to withdraw from social engineering for the ruling class and build a genuine mass movement”.
Reeling out the names of many radical activists who had passed on since Itiem Kongwai, Bagauda Kaltho, Chima Ubani, Emma Ezeazu, Bala Mohammed, Festus Iyayi, Baba Omojola, Mokwugo Okoye, Eskor Toyo, Abubakar Momoh and Funmi Adewunmi, he said it was a matter for regret that the radical movement is fast losing all those activists produced from the students movement in the golden era of the 70s and 80s.
“What is further depressing is that the condition under which they were nurtured and thrived is no longer there”. Arguing that the drift to the business of Non-Governmental Organisations which he said were created by the US as part of the process of whittling down the radical movement, Olorode said we need to re-think the NGO business and rebuild the radical movement.
Reminding the audience about Momoh’s radical scholarship which was very critical about neo-liberalism, Issa Aremu, general secretary of National Union of Textiles, Garments and Tailoring (NUTGT) said, “We need to change our Constitution to make it possible for people to contest elections wherever they lived arguing that nobody knew where Momoh came from as he was at home everywhere.
Ngozi Iwerre, executive director of Community Life Project who was miffed that the calls to rejig the mass movement have always been like a revolving door each time any activist died cautioned that “we cannot build a mass movement without linking up to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)”.
“How are you going to be building a broad-based organisation without these organisations?”, she queried. President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Biodun Ogunyemi said the passing of Momoh, former dean, Faculty of Social Sciences at LASU has posed a challenge to the entire Labour movement.
“Momoh has always been with us despite his appointment at the Electoral Institute. At every consultative meeting, Momoh was there, he was a rallying point. He’s widely acclaimed as an unrepentant advocate of Socialist and radical scholarship.”
“Losing such an indefatigable scholar, shall we mourn or cry? Weep not for Momoh for he came, he saw and he conquered”.
The Colloquium which was attended by the Vice Chancellor of LASU, Prof Lanre Fagbohun, the former Vice Chancellor of University of Abuja, Prof Nuhu Yakubu, former ASUU President, Dr Dipo Fashina and Momoh’s junior brother, Mr Farook Momoh among others, featured tributes and solidarity songs by Labour, students and other civil society organisations.
TheNewsuru.com reports that Momoh, a former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, LASU was a former National Treasurer, ASUU. A highly resourceful, rigorous and engaging scholar, he was also a former chairman of ASUU, LASU branch. Until his death on May 29th, 2017, Momoh was the Director General, National Electoral Institute, Abuja.