The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) stressed that the negotiation and implementation of a new national minimum wage are not exclusive to organised labour but a collective struggle for all Nigerians, according to Joe Ajaero, NLC President, at the “International Lenin Centenary” Conference in Abuja on Monday.
Speaking at the conference, which commemorates Leninism and its relevance to the class struggle, Ajaero urged unity and collective power to escape oppression and exploitation. He stressed the need for a strong resistance against forces aiming to deny opportunities for societal change.
He said: “Our chances are slim when we stand alone, but when we stand together, we can achieve our collective interests. We seek a Living Wage, and it is only when we work together as comrades that we can achieve this.”
“In the spirit of Leninism, I invite you to join us. In remembrance of this great framework, I invite all men and women who are prepared to be beaten for the sake of workers and the poor among others.”
The labour leader called on everyone to view the upcoming national minimum wage negotiation as a collective effort, not just for NLC and TUC but for all citizens. He stressed the importance of working together from the negotiation’s inception to implementation to overcome those advocating for insufficient wages.
Speaking further, he said: “This is a collective struggle, not just for the NLC and TUC but for every Nigerian. Let us overcome those who have already made up their minds to pay Nigerians a starvation wage.”
“Comrades remember, when we stand alone, our chances are slim but when we stand together, we are able to achieve our collective interests.”
Highlighting the significance of collective action, Ajaero urged comrades to remember that standing alone diminishes chances of success, while standing together enables the achievement of collective interests. He advocated for a Living Wage and underscored the power of unity in achieving this goal.
The NLC President stated: “Comrades remember, when we stand alone, our chances are slim but when we stand together, we are able to achieve our collective interests.”
“We seek for a Living Wage, and it is only when we work together as comrades that we can achieve this.”
Addressing the need for political restrategising, Ajaero acknowledged the mistakes made since 1999 and called for a deeper understanding of the link between workplace complexities and manifestations of class exploitation in society. He urged collective vigilance and a unified political strategy to bring about positive change.
“How can we change our nation if we remain deeply divided unfortunately believing in the narrative and propaganda manufactured by our oppressors? I ask why have we found it difficult to work together under one political umbrella to project our ideals, build it and use it to creatively take over the reins of power in our nation?” He queried.
Ajaero posed critical questions about the difficulty of working together under one political umbrella, emphasising the need for a united front to project ideals and creatively take over the reins of power. He invited individuals willing to tread the path of Lenin and those prepared to join the struggle for a better Nigeria.
He further queried: “Are there men and women here who are willing to tread the same path Lenin followed? Have they made up their minds to join the struggle for a better Nigeria which must begin by enthroning equity in our world of work?”
In the spirit of Leninism, Ajaero called for unity, determination, and a collective effort to make a difference in the nation. He urged meaningful contributions that would contribute to creating a more just and equitable world.
He added: “This celebration offers us the singular opportunity to rethink our political strategy as a class and make it more practical to avoid the mistakes we have made since 1999.nI therefore ask today, are there men and women here who are willing to tread the same path Lenin followed?”
“In remembrance of this great framework, I invite all men and women who are prepared to be beaten for the sake of workers and the poor among others.”
Read full statement:
AN ADDRESS BY COMRADE JOE AJAERO, THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC) AT THE INTERNATIONAL LENIN CENTENARY CONFERENCE ON MONDAY, JANUARY 22, 2024 AT TOP RANK HOTEL GALAXY, UTAKO-ABUJA.
I feel greatly honoured being invited to share my thoughts on the centenary celebration of Leninism with its profound implications on our understanding of global socio-economic issues, particularly in the context of the products of Neoliberalism such as globalization and its profound impact on the trade union movement and indeed the world of work. Indeed, the Leninist framework has become a modern and potent tool for querying and understanding our society and its various structures. As we reflect on the legacy of Leninism, it is imperative to critically analyze its relevance and efficacy in addressing the challenges of our contemporary world so that together, we can protect our nation and humanity as a whole from the predatory instincts of a few individuals and nations.
Leninism if we still remember emerged in a tumultuous period of history, marked by the Russian Revolution of 1917, and it sought to provide a framework for the establishment of a socialist state. Today, a century later, we find ourselves in a vastly interconnected global landscape shaped by the forces of globalization anchored on neoliberalism. It is clear that without the work of Lenin and his group, all the beautiful Marxian postulations may not have found traction in real world economy. We therefore owe him greatly for the practicality and vibrancy of the ideologies of the Left. It is essential to assess how Leninist principles resonate with the challenges posed by these modern phenomena. It is important to state that its postulations have remained more valid and potent today than at its beginnings for people of conscience especially the left and indeed working-class activists as we are confronted with the deepening challenges of an increasing distorted and polarized world.
Globalization, with its interdependence and interconnectedness, has undoubtedly transformed the world. However, it has also exacerbated social inequality on a global scale. Leninism’s emphasis on the class struggle and the need for a revolutionary vanguard to address the concerns of the working class remains relevant. In the face of transnational corporations and global economic disparities, Leninist ideas encourage us to scrutinize power structures and advocate for social justice.
Neoliberalism, with its emphasis on free markets and limited state intervention, has been a dominant force in recent decades. Leninism, with its critique of capitalism and its assertion of the role of the state in advancing socialist goals, provides a contrasting perspective. As we witness the impacts of neoliberal policies on income inequality and workers’ rights, Leninist analyses offer a counterbalance, urging us to question the unfettered market forces that contribute to social disparities.
The Leninist lens, with its focus on imperialism and the exploitation of the working class, remains a potent tool for analyzing the root causes of social inequality. The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few is a challenge that transcends borders, and Leninist principles encourage us to explore collective solutions that address the systemic issues underlying global disparities.
It continues to remind us of the need for relentless organizing despite the obstacles which includes the use of violence by the retrogressive forces of society so that we can build the needed power across all the spectrum of mass-based organisations for creatively engaging them in order to free our society from their shackles. It speaks to criticality of building greater consciousness through constant education amongst the people and workers’ organisations and ultimately it stresses the importance of vigilance on our part and the willingness to make personal sacrifices as we provide the needed leadership to make our nation and global community serve majority of humanity.
In contemplating Leninism’s relevance today, we must acknowledge its role as a critical voice in the ongoing discourse about societal structures and power dynamics. As we grapple with issues such as climate change, technological disruptions, and the evolving nature of work, Leninist ideas can serve as a foundation for discussions on how to build a more equitable and sustainable future.
Leninism, an ideological framework derived from the teachings of Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, has made significant contributions to the growth of trade unionism and the understanding of class analysis in the realm of workplace relations. Leninism, as a political and economic theory, addresses the power dynamics between employers and employees, providing insights that have shaped the trajectory of trade union movements worldwide.
One of the central tenets of Leninism is the emphasis on the role of the working class in revolutionary change. Lenin argued that workers, organized through trade unions, could play a crucial role in challenging capitalist exploitation and creating a more equitable society. Trade unions, under the influence of Leninist principles, became vehicles for collective bargaining, mobilization, and resistance against oppressive labor conditions.
Lenin’s concept of the “vanguard party” also influenced trade unionism. According to Lenin, a disciplined and ideologically aligned group of revolutionaries should lead the working class in its struggle for power. This principle was applied to trade unions, where committed leaders were expected to guide workers in their quest for better working conditions and increased bargaining power. This leadership commitment does not come cheap as the fierce struggle between capital and its agents against progressive forces such as our various platforms becomes hotter. That is why I spoke about the willingness to make sacrifices even at the cost of our personal safety and comfort.
Leninism contributed significantly to the understanding of class analysis, particularly in the context of workplace relations. Lenin argued that society could be divided into different classes, primarily the bourgeoisie (capitalist class) and the proletariat (working class). This analysis highlighted the inherent conflict of interest between these classes, forming the basis for understanding power dynamics within the workplace.
In the world of work, class analysis according to Leninism sheds light on the exploitative nature of capitalist systems. Employers, as representatives of the bourgeoisie, seek to maximize profits by extracting surplus value from the labor of the working class. This analysis deepens our comprehension of the power imbalances inherent in employer-employee relationships, providing a framework for addressing workplace issues from a class-conscious perspective.
This increased understanding of the nexus between workplace complexities and diverse manifestations of class exploitations and subjugation in the wider society calls all of us to greater vigilance. It is only when we are vigilant that we will remain united, purge ourselves thus become resistant to the forces seeking to keep us divided so as to deny us of the ability to build collective power which is capable of changing our societies. Various tools are deployed in this effort and it is our responsibility in keeping with the postulates of Lenin to recognize our belonginess to a class of the oppressed and exploited whose only chance of escape is to build a collective power. It is a call for not just unity but to use that unity in working out our freedom from the powers that hold us down.
Leninism underscores the importance of recognizing power relations in the workplace as a fundamental aspect of class struggle. The capitalist system inherently grants employers significant power over employees, as they control the means of production. Leninist thought urges workers to challenge this power dynamic through organized resistance, strikes, and demands for better working conditions and fair wages.
Furthermore, Leninism encourages workers to transcend immediate economic concerns and recognize their broader class interests. This approach fosters solidarity among workers, enabling them to collectively confront the power of the capitalist class. By dissecting power relations in the workplace through a Leninist lens, trade unions can effectively advocate for systemic change and the creation of a more just and equitable society.
How can we change our nation if we remain deeply divided unfortunately believing in the narrative and propaganda manufactured by our oppressors? How can we change our nation if we do not speak with one voice and act with one purpose as a group that are holding the wrong end of stick at all times? I ask why have we found it difficult to work together under one political umbrella to project our ideals, build it and use it to creatively take over the reins of power in our nation? This Celebration offers us the singular opportunity to rethink our political strategy as a class and make it more practical to avoid the mistakes we have made since 1999.
Leninism has played a pivotal role in shaping the growth of trade unionism and enhancing our understanding of class analysis in the context of workplace relations. By emphasizing the importance of the working class and promoting collective action, Leninism has empowered trade unions to challenge oppressive labor conditions and advocate for workers’ rights. The analysis of power relations between employers and employees through a Leninist perspective offers valuable insights into the dynamics of class struggle, contributing to the ongoing discourse on creating a more equitable and just world of work.
As we celebrate the centenary of Leninism, it is my wish that we all not only seek to embrace his teachings but also look for ways to advance them to make them more potent and useful in our modern society. Nietsche will always remind us that “…. a student does the greatest disservice to his teacher if he continues to remain a student…” Lenin will want us not only to be his disciples but to become great apostles and advocates of his in a more advanced form to build a more equitable and progressive society that works for the majority of the society.
As we march into 2027, what will Lenin have us do? As the comprador bourgeoises who have seized the reins of power in our nation and have continued to decimate all institutions of governance using them to subjugate, impoverish and incapacitate the sovereign will, tramples upon workers and masses, what will the apostles of Lenin do? As our collective resources are plundered by the forces of international capital and further looted with impunity by those in the corridors of power, will Lenin apostles fold their arms?
Would Lenin instruct us to stand in our separate enclaves to engage the vicissitudes of the petroleum price hike which has decimated the poor in our nation while enriching our politicians and the wealthy? Would Lenin require us to stand aloof while workers are paid pittance and the general income of the people are destroyed by the anti-people policies of the government? What would Lenin have us do comrades?
That is why it is important that at this juncture that I invite all of us as we prepare to negotiate the national minimum wage this year not to see it as a struggle for the NLC and TUC but a collective struggle. I request that we all join hands together from the beginning of the negotiation exercise to the end of it and to its ultimate implementation so that we can overcome those who have already made up their minds to pay Nigerians a starvation wage. We seek for a Living Wage and it is only when we work together as comrades that we can achieve this.
Comrades remember, when we stand alone, our chances are slim but when we stand together, we are able to achieve our collective interests. Lenin who was not a worker in the classical sense understood this and championed the cause of workers in the globe. I therefore ask today, are there men and women here who are willing to tread the same path Lenin followed? Are there comrades here who are not workers in the classical sense but understand that our interests are the same thus have made up their minds to join the struggle for a better Nigeria which must begin by enthroning equity in our world of work?
In the spirit of Leninism, I invite you to join us! In remembrance of this great framework, I invite all men and women who are prepared to be beaten for the sake of workers and the poor; those who are prepared to suffer bruises and those who are prepared to be deprived so that our nation will become more equitable! To them, I say come! Let the march begin built upon the banner Lenin has provided!
This celebration will be in vain if we do not arise from this place today resolved to work together, determined to make a difference in our nation and committed to reclaiming the civic space by building and empowering cadres across the nation; the Universities and tertiary educational institutions and the streets and workplaces and use it to bring an end to the march of forces of brigandage and emasculation in our society. This will be the true celebration and that is what Lenin will have us do.
In conclusion, the centenary of Leninism invites us to engage in a nuanced and critical analysis of its principles in the context of contemporary global challenges. While the world has evolved since the early 20th century, the core concerns of Leninism – social inequality, class struggle, and the role of the state – remain pertinent. As we navigate the complexities of our current reality, let us draw inspiration from the insights of Leninism to contribute meaningfully to the ongoing dialogue on creating a more just and equitable world for all.
A People United, will never be defeated! A people determined, will be victorious!
Thanks for listening Comrades!