Like the Gambia, the Nigeria

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On June 26, The Guardian (UK) published a story
on its website concerning the plans of the
government of Gambia to increase registration fees
for candidates that will contest in the country’s
future electoral process. If the new bill before the
Gambian parliament is passed into law, candidates
will be charged one million dalasi (US$25, 000) to
run in any future campaigns.
This plan of the Gambian government is another
instance of the use of democratic and legislative
instruments to rob people of their freedom,
democratic rights and happiness. Using laws to
protect the interests of the ruling class and elites
of society is a common practice in every capitalist
society. In advanced capitalist countries like the
United States and Britain, this practice is rife.
Great Britain once considered a bill that aimed to
criminalise strike actions of trade unions, joining
one and in fact protest actions in general. It was
with the backing of the United States Congress that
the George Bush regime declared war on
Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 21st century.
In other backward capitalist countries like Nigeria,
so called democratic instruments are blatantly
used to rob the masses, oppress them and cut
extravagant lifestyles for the super rich and elites
of the country. The social media in the country
recently boiled over the news of outrageous
allowances of federal legislators. For a country like
Nigeria, with its outrageously high percentage of
poverty, unemployment and illiteracy, political
office holders still put in place laws that give them
legal access to a-third of the national budget. The
remaining two-third is at the mercy of profligacy,
over-bloated contracts and outright looting.
Capitalism and capitalist societies operate on the
basis of placing a class of few but wealthy elites
above the rest of society. The objective and motive
of this class is to accumulate as much wealth as
possible to themselves. The laws, armed forces
and organs of society (government) are used to
preserve their likes in power to continue to use
public funds and services to satisfy their objective
of wealth accumulation. This is always done at the
expense of society.
While explaining the Marxist conception of the
capitalist state, Lenin in ‘The State and Revolution’
points out that, “In a democratic (capitalist)
republic, wealth exercises its power indirectly, but
all the more surely, first, by means of the direct
corruption of officials; secondly, by means of an
alliance of the government and the Stock
Exchange”.
Indeed Nigerian political office holders, by drawing
outrageous emoluments from the nation’s
treasury, are only confirming the correctness of
Marx and Engels’ analysis of the modern capitalist
state (government). Corruption is inevitable when
the living conditions of political office holders
(representatives of the people) are extravagant
and incomparable to the life of penury and hardship
that the people (workers, youths and masses) they
claim to represent live. Marx called in the 19th
century for a socialist state where politicians will
not receive jumbo pay, and maintain the salaries
and allowances of average workers like everyone
else.
It is good that Nigerians are calling for the reform
of this or that law of the country that has placed
the interest of few section of society above all of
us all. But if this is granted, the politicians will only
give with the right hand and take back with the left.
The whole capitalist system must be replaced with
a system organised and planned for the people,
genuinely and practically by them. Students and
workers should support call for a Labour party
founded on programmes that will see politicians
earn wages of workers and ownership of Nigeria’s
economy by all Nigerians. Enough is enough!
Wole Olubanji, Department of Philosophy, Obafemi
Awolowo University

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