SPN CONDEMNS PRESIDENT BUHARI’S CIVIL WAR STATEMENT
- We call for a democratically-convened Sovereign National Conference of the working people, ethnic nationalities, etc. to address Nigeria’s socio-economic, political, security and nationality crises.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns in absolute terms the statement of President Muhammadu Buhari where he threatened Nigerians, and especially the south-easterners, with the state violence reminiscent of the Nigerian civil war era.
The President, on June 1, 2021, while responding to the growing violent attacks on government facilities notably police stations and INEC offices, had said, “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand”.
This statement shows not just Buhari’s poor understanding of the causes and instigating factors of the violence that is rapidly engulfing the Southeast of Nigeria, but also the dictatorial and violence-mongering mindset of the president and the present administration. It also exposes the insensitive character of the President, especially as regards the open sores that the memory of Nigerian Civil War represents.
We condemn the acts of individual terrorism which is what obtains by the killings of security operatives especially the rank and file and wanton destruction of public property in the southeast. However, we of the SPN reject the president’s approach of threatening violence of the civil war proportion. About 2 million people were reportedly killed in the 30-month civil war, with Easterners the major victims many of whom did not bear arms or were in the battlefields. So a civil war-like response by the Nigerian state suggests that innocent Nigerians of Igbo extraction will be made to pay for the atrocities of the criminal elements who attacked security agencies and INEC offices. Already, it is the militarization of the zone and gross violation of rights of citizens, coupled with the state violence on pro-Biafra agitators, which has led to extra-judicial killing of hundreds of citizens, which have contributed to mobilising support for separatist agitation in the Southeast.
Therefore, we hold that the President’s reference to Nigerian Civil War, at a period when many perceive him as sectional and clannish, is insensitive and irresponsible. While Buhari was threatening southeasterners with the memory of Nigerian Civil War, the same president could not arrest the deadly national crises such as herdsmen-farmers conflicts, banditry, Boko Haram insurgency and kidnapping. Just few days ago, dozens of kidnapped students of Greenfield University in Kaduna State were released after the parents paid over N180 million, with five students killed. Yet, government could not lift a finger.
The government reference to Nigerian Civil War, aside evoking emotions of Nigerians, especially the southeasterners, will also paint the picture of a government more interested in repressing a section of the country than addressing national security challenge.
Furthermore, the SPN completely oppose the ossified thinking within the government that self-determination agitation is a crime. Indeed, the current neo-colonial arrangement, coupled with undemocratically-arranged, elite-oriented constitution, is the real crime against Nigeria and Nigerians. Unfortunately, all the so-called national conferences, confabs and constitution reviews, were not only undemocratically convened, but were also aimed at maintaining the present neo-colonial, elite arrangement.
Virtually all the constitutional conferences and decisions, save for the 1961 plebiscite that led to removal of southern Cameroun from Nigeria and the creation of the mid-western region in 1963, lack democratic participation through referendum or plebiscite. It is therefore not accidental that continuous agitation over marginalization and self-rule have continued to trail Nigeria’s political development. This has been further amplified by the neo-colonial rent-seeking capitalist economic system being practiced in Nigeria.
It is in the light of this, we of the SPN call for a democratically convened Sovereign National Conference comprising of democratically elected representatives of labour movement, ethnic nationalities, peasant farmers (crop and livestock) , traders, artisans, professional groups, , etc. to deliberate and decide the way forward for Nigeria including the socio-economic system that Nigeria will practice and a new constitution.
Given the utter failure of capitalism, especially in its neo-colonial and neoliberal form, in Nigeria, we in the SPN believe that only a socialist system including the nationalization of the commanding heights of Nigeria’s economy under a democratic control and management of the elected representatives of the working people can engender Nigeria’s development. It is only through this kind of socialist planning that the huge human and material resources of the country can be used to improve the lots of the vast majority of the people, not a privileged few as presently obtain. Indeed, behind the growing agitation is also mass poverty, unemployment and mass suffering as a result of capitalist programmes implemented by the successive governments.
Conclusively, we of the SPN call for an end to reigning state terror on citizens not only in the southeast, but also throughout the country. We demand the respect for the right of Nigerians to self-determination and an end to all forms of violence against citizens. The SPN has consistently called for the formation of multi-ethnic and multi-religious defense committees in communities which could be armed if necessary but whose operation must be under the democratic control of the community people. Also importantly we call on the labour movement to mount pressure through a series of mass actions on Buhari government not to carry out policies that worsen the deteriorating security situation that has already led to death of thousands of lives and destruction of property.
If such action is seriously undertaken then Labour will have the opportunity to present a real alternative to the failing policies of the capitalist parties and politicians.
Abiodun Bamigboye Chinedu Bosah
Acting National Chairperson National Secretary