Nationwide Protest Held on June 12 ‘Democracy Day’ against Insecurity and Bad Economy
On Saturday June 12 a nationwide protest was held over insecurity economic hardship and anti-poor policies of Muhammadu Buhari government. President Buhari had in 2018 changed the so-called ‘Democracy Day’ from May 29 to June 12 ostensibly in honour of late MKO Abiola who won the presidential election in 1993, which was then annulled by the military, and the struggle for the return to civil rule. This was apparently done to woo the support of the electorate especially from the Southwest ahead of 2019 presidential election.
While the vast majority of Nigerians identified with the demands of this protest, the turnout at the protests were generally low. This partly as a result of the atmosphere of fear that the government had created a few days prior to the protest. This is especially decisive given the sad memory of how the #EndSARS protest last year October was drowned in blood by the Buhari government. Besides, everywhere had been heavily militarized since Friday June 11. Consequently the vast majority of people, especially in Southwest, chose to stay indoors.
Nonetheless, it was significant that the protesters who came out made a bold statement that young people and the poor masses are not prepared to yield the democratic space to the dictatorial government of Buhari government. It is also instructive that the protest also took place in the northern states of Kaduna and Kano which are the traditional stronghold of President Buhari.
The protest was repressed in Abuja and in a number of states including Lagos and Cross River states.
The day was also used by the separatist agitators for Biafra and a Yoruba nation to advance their cause. Nationalist protests were held in the UK and the US. The Cable online newspaper reported a mild clash between the anti-government protesters and Yoruba Nation agitators over what should be the demand of the protest when their paths crossed in Ibadan.
By and large, the protest underscores the need for the labour movement to provide leadership for the growing anger against Buhari government over its monumental failure on economy and insecurity. We call on the NLC and TUC to declare for a 48 hour general strike against insecurity, all anti-poor policies and attacks on democratic rights not only by the Buhari government but also the state governments.
Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) joined the protests in Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan and Osogbo. Leaflets of YRC and CDWR were circulated in Abuja and Ibadan respectively. It was only in Ibadan where the protest was not repressed where the comrades were able to sell copies of Socialist Democracy, SD the DSM’s newspaper. After the protest, in Osogbo, Osun State, DSM comrades held a scheduled public meeting which was attended by about 30 people including some who had participated earlier in the protest. .
Below are some reports by comrades
Members of the DSM branch joined the June 12 protest in Abuja. About 200 persons participated in the protest generally. The protesters converged at Gudu junction in Abuja where they were chanting anti-government songs. There were also members of the Shiite Muslim sect who came to protest the years of illegal detention of their leader, El Zak-Zaky, and his wife.
We produced 300 copies of YRC leaflet on the suspension of Twitter by Buhari government for circulation at the protest. We circulated about 150 copies before the protest was disrupted by the police and other state armed forces. The police and other armed forces fired several tear gas canisters and used planks to hit protesters. Those arrested were brutalized at the point of arrest and tortured at the police station. Some three protesters had their feet torn with razor blade by the police.
This disruption happened in just 20 minutes into the protest and affected our intervention. We could not finish distributing our leaflets and we couldn’t sell any papers.
Comrades of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Oyo State, joined thousands of youths and the masses protesting across the country against bad governance, insecurity and economic crisis. We converged at Mokola Bridge where the personnel of Nigeria Army, Police, civil defence and DSS were fully on ground.
The protest moved peacefully from Mokola to Sango, UI, Bodija back to Agodi Secretariat before heading to Iwo Road.
While at Bodija on the way to Agodi Secretariat, Governor Seyi Makinde came to join the protest. Just the in way he did during #EndSARS protest here in Ibadan, he gave some protesters money, something that caused distraction. While some fought over the money, a good number of the protesters resisted the temptation and chanted anti-government song directed at him. Many protesters joined us as we led a popular struggle song in Yoruba that literally says all the capitalist leaders are responsible for the woes of Nigeria – “Gbogbo won lo lowo nbe bi Nigeria se dayi gbo gbo won lo lowo nbe.”
The PDP Oyo state governor is fond of bribing protesters, a divide and ruled tactics adopted by the Governor over time, to buy cheap popularity from those protesting at the APC President.
We distributed leaflets to the protesters. We got 4 contacts interested in the organisation, including somebody who introduced himself as a former comrade in Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (Lautech), but now a graduate. We sold five copies of the SD.
Comrade Talib Ola
DSM, Oyo State
Comrades of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) in Lagos participated in the June 12 protest organized by CORE and Revolution Now – a broad coalition of civil society and some left groups – in Ojota, Lagos State.
The protest march was organised across the country to express dissatisfaction on the state of the economy, massive corruption, and more importantly the growing insecurity that have claimed the lives of thousands of Nigerians.
The protesters numbering about 100 in Lagos after so much show of force by the police summoned courage to hit the streets of Ojota rolling with banners, placards with various slogans and demands were immediately dispersed after heavily armed policemen fired about 7 teargas and several gunshots to the air. The protesters were chased by the police into the neighbouring streets. About 7 persons were arrested and later released.
After some minutes, the protesters later converged to deliberate on the next steps but apparently at the instance of the APC state government, the hoodlums that work with road transport union were already mobilized to attack the protesters. There was no sale of Socialist Democracy (SD) due to the repression.