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Building a progressive united front as Third Force

By Izielen Agbon
14 June 2022   |   2:54 am
The present ruling class in Nigeria has forfeited its right to rule as a result of its failure to produce the basic necessities of life for the Nigerian masses


The present ruling class in Nigeria has forfeited its right to rule as a result of its failure to produce the basic necessities of life for the Nigerian masses. It has failed to provide security of persons and properties to Nigerian citizens. It has failed to create jobs, and build roads, bridges, hospitals, clinics, schools, universities and housing. It has failed to provide the enabling environment for agricultural, industrial, and technological growth and sustainable economic development.

Unfortunately for us, progressive forces in the nation do not have the power to seize control of the apparatus of the state and institute an era of sustainable economic development.

One of the barriers to increasing the power of progressive forces is the lack of unity around progressive ideas. In 2015, the efforts to present a united force made up of opposition parties failed. Currently, there is an attempt to build unity around the labour party as a Third Force against the dominance of the democratic political space by the two bourgeois parties, the APC and PDP.

Unfortunately, this unity is being built around bourgeois political personalities rather than the NLC Nigerian Workers Charter of Demands or a broader platform of nationalistic revolutionary principles/demands. Thus, even if the labour party wins, it will not serve the interests of the masses of Nigerian people in its present non-ideological form under the leadership of bourgeois or even pro labour personalities. The party’s experiences under Olusegun Mimiko, Alao Akala and Adam Oshiomole leadership lead to this conclusion. What then is the way forward toward building a sustainable Third Force to oppose bourgeois political dominance of the nation?

Under certain historical conditions, the political, social and economic demands of various groups and classes coincide thereby creating the possibility for the formation of a nationalist political united front or Third Force. The identity of the political united front reflects national and class struggles. Sometimes, a united front is between classes as occurred after 1945 when the Nigerian labouring classes (workers and farmers) united with the emerging national bourgeois class around the demand for political independence. At other times, a united front is between the sections of the labouring classes or groups as happened with the anti-subsidy struggles around the demand for affordable petrol prices. A Third Force is a political united front of progressive forces from different groups and classes around a specific set of demands under the leadership of progressive working-class forces. A Third Force is not another bourgeois or ruling class political party. It cannot, therefore, be successfully led by ruling class elements or politicians decamping from existing bourgeois parties.

A Third Force is tactical, ideological and political united front based upon a specific set of demands. A third force is a tactical united front because the principles and programmes of the independent groups/classes/political parties joining the united front are preserved. These groups retain their autonomy outside the third force programme or set of demands. The Third Force is ideological because it is committed to a set of ideas that seeks to improve the living conditions of the masses. The Third Force believes in ideals that are based on humanist economic and political theories and policies. The late Amilcar Carbal of PAIGC, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde taught us that “to have ideology doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to define whether you are communist, socialist or something like this. To have ideology is to know what you want in your own condition…We first asked –Who are we? What do we want? How do we live? What is our enemy? Who is this enemy? What can he do against us? What is our country? Where is our country?–things like this, step by step, explaining out real conditions and explaining what we want, why we want it and why we had to fight.” A Third Force must be able to answer these questions firmly and clearly to the satisfaction of the masses of people. The Third Force is political because it seeks to contest the right of the ruling class to rule or maintain control of all state apparatuses of class domination in the national democratic arena. At its core, the Third Force is a tactical, ideological united front designed to promote direct action (by voting and otherwise) against the ruling class and its total control of state resources.

Finally, the Third Force is based upon a realistic assessment of the prevailing situation in the country and the immediate basic interests and concerns of the masses. This assessment is captured in a programme consisting of a concrete set of demands aimed at achieving concrete benefits for the masses of workers, youths, students, women and farmers. Amilcar Carbal taught us to“always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.” Therefore, the concrete demands must flow from the existing grassroots struggles of the different forces that make up the constituent parts of the Third Force as a tactical, ideological, political united front.

The Third Force organize and mobilize the masses of people door by door, street by street, ward by ward and state by state on the basis of this program of concrete demands.

To be continued tomorrow
Dr. Agbon, former ASUU chairman, University of Ibadan, lives in Texas, USA.