Socialism or Welfare Reconstruction For Nigeria?

by Ephraim Adinlofu

A lot have happened around the world that most people have become sceptical of the word socialism. More fundamental was the dizzying effect of the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic {USSR} and its balkanization; the foundation of which, was laid in 1985/86 by Mikhail Gorbachev bourgeoisifying policies of glasnost {Openness} and Perestroika {Political and economic restructuring}. The fallout of these policies led to the collapse of other clientele states of Socialist Eastern Europe and their balkanization too. Since then, the ideology has been categorised as antiquated and outdated by some bourgeois scholars. They argued that socialism had neither met nor satisfied global economic yearnings, and therefore should be certified dead and buried.

Karl Marx’s thesis on movement of history and society should be read and understood for what it is: a theoretical idealism built on concrete analysis of man and history through the effective use of dialectics as a weapon of intellectualism. His ideals were not achievable in reality and praxis but sufficient approximations of them could be attained. Karl Marx posited that society moves from one stage of economic development to another with a new stage negating a former. It is the contradictions inherent in each stage, its generated social forces and dynamics, combined with the unity and struggle of opposites, that would destroy an old order, negate it, and replace it with a new.

Thus he presented six stages of such economic movement, namely: the tribal form, primitive communism, feudalism, capitalism, socialism and Communism in that order. He positioned that if one looks critically into history; that even though there were variations, one would discover that societies were moving in a linear direction. One form of production negates the other until the negation gets to socialism, which will in turn be finally negated by communism, assumed by Marx and Engel, to be the highest form of human development. Thus most countries, instead of waiting for the course of history to determine their next stage of development as theorised by Marx, they jumped. Most jumped from the feudal mode and pre-capitalist stage to Socialism. They then bypassed real practice and experience of capitalism which they perceivably dreaded having witnessed too much of wickedness, slave mentality, cruelty, alienation and exploitation under the feudal-cum-pre capitalist system.

They’d envisaged that if the feudal mode was allowed to mutate and graduate to full blown capitalism, it would be difficult to contain let alone overthrow it, thus through the use of force, they moved on straight to either socialism or communism, thus the distortion in their developments. Karl Marx and neo-Marxists made it clear that capitalism contains enormous wealth, but that this wealth is in the hands of a few and that it is the greed inherent in that system, coupled with other dangerous contradictions, that will help destroy it through a bloody revolutionary.

The aftermath of that revolution is that the enormous wealth in the hands of these few sharks and corporate organizations will be seized by the oppressed, led by a working class and used to transform the emerging Socialist arrangement where there will be no exploitation, mortgage payments, cheating, alienation, stealing by tricks and other forms of latent and manifest bourgeois criminal tendencies. In that sense, the working class becomes the state. That societies in haste, had not allowed Karl Marx’s linear stages of historical development to mutate and negate in their clime accordingly, meant that his thesis had not been proved wrong.

According to Marx, in each of these six stages are ideas used in governing the people. These are ideas of a ruling class whose members are privileged to have had the upper hand in any economic order. Thus “the idea of a ruling epoch is the idea of the ruling class” – ideology. Thus averred Peter Berger: all ideas are conspiracies and the conspirators are those who concocted the ideas. In other wards, just like war, every ideology is a conspiracy against a people or a particular set of people. This is a fact that is observable in any social order. The mechanisms for propagating such ideas are different in each epoch and climes but in modern times, the most effective weapon for propagating ideas of a ruling class, is the media. In Nigeria, it is the media and religion.

However, to avoid the predictions of Karl Marx from becoming a historical reality, most Western Europe over the years evolved and adapted Welfare capitalism as an ideological decor. In it, is embedded the de-revolutionising practice of “collective bargaining”, a bourgeois coinage and palliative often used to frustrate the working class. And Britain is one of them and most Marxists need to experience life in Britain to know why Karl Marx – who was virtually declared persona non grata in most European countries during his life time on earth because of his enormous ability to raise the revolutionary consciousness of any working class anywhere he visited – lived and died in Britain. It may have its numerous shortcomings, but Britain has a tolerant culture.

In Welfare capitalism however, every human being has access to basic necessities of life e.g. food, shelter, education, health and sometimes full and gainful employment. Welfare capitalism is capitalism with a humane deceptive face; the difference being that the “welfare” attached to it helps to cushion the dangerous side effects of capitalism. It still allows the individual and corporate organizations to pursue economic goals and profits along side an assumed state protection of the generality of the people’s interest. It does not stifle or destroy individual creativity but at same time does not allow such self ego or “ego massaging” to run riots. The state intervenes to help the weak, the potential revolutionary mass, with hand outs to help melt down their anger while behind the scene, is an on-going brutal exploitation of the working class and the maximization of super profits by corporate organizations combined with latent high profile corporate crimes.

In Africa, studies have shown that in pre-colonial times, there were four distinct political systems that were operational. First, was the egalitarian small group system found among the Khoi-San of Namibia and the Pygmies of Equatorial forest of Africa among others; second, was the egalitarian large community system that were of two variants, one of which was based on the principles of association and had been documented as the political system of the Yako in Cross River state, Mende, Igbo, while traces of it were found in Yoruba land; and the other, was based on the operational principles of segmentary lineages, found in the Tiv land of Nigeria; third, was the Republican state system exemplified in Ibusa, Delta state. That system had revolved and still revolves on the principles of democratic gerontocracy, where the oldest man is the spiritual, economic and political head of a community; and the fourth, was the state system that was based on Chiefdoms and kingdoms e. g the Yoruba and the Hausa. All those systems, even though the fourth had distinct social classes, had evolved around some form of stratified communalism with social mechanisms put in place to check individuations.

When the colonial masters came and introduced cash economy, which changed the face of social relations, the “I, me and myself” concepts crept in and, in most cases, negatively interpenetrated our valued value systems. When they left, it behoved on those who fought for our independence, to combine their acquired western education with native intelligence, look backwards a bit into our history, study the way the different component nationalities had lived before c

olonialism and amalgamation came, and then evolve a system that was seemingly in line with communalism. And by the then standard, that, would have been socialism. It was only Chief Awolowo who seemed to have understood the historical trend of our component nationalities while his education in Welfare Britain only acted as an impetus to his intellectual transformation. Azikiwe schooled in capitalist America, and that influence too, never left him.

However, other pioneers of our independence failed to read and understand the trend or rather, they understood it but decided to follow their own wrong but selfish ideological bent. They embraced wholesale, a crookedly Nigerianized version of neo-colonial capitalism with its bourgeoisie democracy. Again, what most of the educated Nigerian politicians failed to do in 1960 and even over the years, enlightened Nigerians did when in 1985, IBB set up a Political Bureau. Members of the bureau as mandated, went round the country, organised debates and collated information on the best and acceptable form of political-cum-economic arrangement that would befit the country. The report of the bureau showed that Nigerians knew their history and understood the dynamics of where the country was headed. Their clarion call was for a socialist form of arrangement, which IBB, for class interest, in turn, rejected. Today, the country is neither here nor there. Corruption has eaten so deep into the fabric of our society that the only way out of the woods, is either through the mass action of the debased man or, through a combination of God and the action of man.

If we are to go by Karl Marx’s thesis, the enormous wealth that has been generated in capitalist Nigeria from 1958 to 2007 was put by Nuhu Ribadu at $400 billion. If this wealth which has been plundered by the military and their political counterparts were plunged into a Socialist Nigeria by a progressive minded leadership and not through a revolutionary process, the country would have been better of today. But class interest, which manifested itself in ethnic manipulation, became our undoing. Imagined that power was handed over to Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1960 and mandated to lay a solid foundation for Nigeria’s take off, just as he did in the West in the fifties, only God knows where Nigeria would have been by now.

Can one therefore, safely argue that it is the egalitarian nature of some ethnic groups combined with the rigid class and obeisance system in some others that has generated over the years the heated catharsis in our political and economic development: an evocation of a Nigerian “marriage of inconvenience”, says Chief Richard Akinjide, “that nobody wants” and yet “is difficult to dissolve”? Is it?

To avoid perhaps the impending apocalyptic prediction by the US intelligence of “Nigeria as a failed state”, I have proposed that the country should return to its former regional formation and that each region should be allowed to use its resources to develop at its own pace. Each should contribute certain percentage of its generated revenue to the federal purse and each, should be run by a Premier with a regional assembly of elected members and regional police. Regions that are less endowed in mineral resources can be aided through financial contributions by regions that are more endured. While the MOPO or Mobile Police should be changed to a Federal police Force. The states in each region should be abolished. They are a source of shame in high profile corrupt practices.

The Premiers should work direct with local governments in their region. The councils will still function with their elected councillors. With the evolving agitations by ethnic groupings, the regions should now be increased from the former three to six, namely: South West {Ibadan}, South East { Enugu}, South South { Port Harcourt}, North Central {Markudi}, North East {Yola}, and North North { Sokoto}. This will allow for a reasonable spread of authority and devolution of power.

The central government will be in control of the Army, Foreign Service, Immigration and Customs Services, the Central bank and the MOPO. All these will presumably make the centre unattractive and power and authority, decentralized. The ideology of the Federal government should either be socialism, which is an evolved and developed form of our African communal system or, welfare capitalism as is the case in the United Kingdom and most European countries.

The chosen ideology and policies will flow from the centre, down to the regions and local councils. All political parties’ manifestoes would have to revolve around our chosen ideology. This option will enable us to experience the principle of the unity of peaceful co-existence deprived of the present stereotypical mutual suspicion, ethnic chauvinism and antagonism. Any student of undistorted history of Nigeria knew of the excellent performance of the late chief Obafemi Awolowo when he was the regional Premier of the West in the fifties, same with Dr. Michael Okpara in the Eastern region. We need such visionary leaders. We need a crop of leaders who will stand up and say boldly that they can do better than what Chief Awolowo did in the Western Region.

Chief Awo used the money generated from cocoa, the chief export crop of the then Western region, to implement far reaching policies that the people of the region benefited and are still benefiting from, to this day. Foremost and notable among those policies was his implementation of free education. Besides, the same system, operates in the UK where we have WALES {Cardiff}, SCOTLAND {Edinburgh},NORTHERN IRELAND { Belfast}, and ENGLAND {London }. Can we experiment this for at least 20 years and see how it goes.

I hope that the National Assembly and its constitution review committee, whenever they finish quarrelling over a mess of porridge in Abuja, will take a look at these submissions! Hoping to forward this proposal to each individual constitution review committee member. I rest my case!

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1 comment

lovenest Nwachukwu March 11, 2009 - 10:57 am

Those who have ears, let them hear. The problem is that the North is afraid of its shadows. Most suggestions already given to help move the country forward have always been rejected by them. PRONACO, led by Chief Enahoro and Wole Soyinka has made far reaching recommendations for the way forward for Nigeria, but is only the North, that has stood against it.

My advise is that the North should not be afraid. A return to regionalism does not mean an alienation of the region. Like the writer correctly pointed out, lesser endowed regions would still be helped by the more mineral endowed regions. There will be contribution still going to the North. Let us revert to this regional practice again and move on for Christ sake. At the rate we are going now, there won’t be any break through for Nigeria now and in the forseeable future if don’t re-think and change gear.


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