Friday, April 17, 2020 1:10 pm
By Ike Okonta
The June 12 1993 crisis presented the Nigerian left and its progressive allies the opportunity to end military dictatorship and restore democratic government in the country.
But having played a key role in the return of democracy, the left declined to participate in government, naively believing that the politicians had learnt their lesson and would henceforth govern well.
This has proved a costly mistake as is now abundantly clear after 20 years of the PDP and APC in power. If there are any lingering doubts concerning the bankruptcy of the present Nigerian ruling class, they have now been dispelled by its inept handling of the Corona pandemic in our country. The hospitals are poorly equipped and the doctors and nurses do not have personal protective equipment. There are not enough testing centres and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) does not know how many Nigerians are infected.
Without thinking, the Federal and State governments imposed a brutal lockdown on ordinary Nigerians without asking how poor citizens who earn a daily income would be able to survive economically. The inevitable result has been widespread hunger, anger and a growing realisation among the poor that the government is inept, corrupt and does not care for their welfare.
The time has come for the left to exploit this widespread feeling and bring the poor and oppressed majority to their side with a political programme that seeks to abolish poverty, restore national prosperity, and rebuild the Nigerian state on the four pillars of democracy, civil liberties, fiscal federalism and the welfare state.
The time has come for the Nigerian left and its broad progressive allies to build a truly progressive national party and make a bid for power in 2023 and beyond.
-Ike Okonta is a writer and journalist.