What We Stand For
DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST MOVEMENT (DSM)
What We Stand For
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), the Nigerian affiliate of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), has over two decades history of struggle. Formed by labour and student socialist activists, we had our founding conference in 1986. Because of the era of military dictatorship in which it was born, our organization was semi-open between 1986 until July 1998 when the DSM was launched as an open organization. During the period of semi-illegality, our organization was identified mainly by the name of its newspapers, Labour Militant (1987-1994) and Militant (1994-1998).
We are committed to the socialist transformation of society in Nigeria and the whole world at large. We stand completely opposed to capitalist policies of privatization and deregulation and the pillaging of the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America by the imperialist powers. We argue that capitalism cannot develop Nigeria and that to be able to permanently meet the needs and aspirations of all, economic and material resources of the society must be commonly owned and democratically run and managed by the elected representatives of the workers, poor farmers and the youth in society. Democratic control, accountability and a conscious struggle against corruption are essential to build the socialist movement and is the basis upon which a socialist society can be built.
The struggle against military dictatorship and for democratic rights was one of the central campaigns of the DSM in the first thirteen years of its existence. As a result, many DSM members suffered arrests and prolonged detention without trial under both the Babangida and Abacha regimes. A landmark in our involvement in this struggle took place on 5 July, 1993 when DSM (then Labour Militant) activists sold over 10,000 copies of the Labour Militant paper on the streets of Lagos during a mass uprising against the annulment of the June 12 presidential election results by the then General Babangida junta.
Our Work in the Labour Movement
The DSM has played an important role in the general strikes and mass struggles against fuel price rises, privatization and deregulation and for a living wage that have repeatedly taken place since 2000. DSM members have played prominent roles in the Labour And Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) and Joint Action Forum (JAF) – now Joint Action Front (JAF) – as well as protest, rallies and demonstrations called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), consistently arguing for determined action to stop fuel price rises, fight for a living wage and put a halt to privatization and deregulation plus a wider mobilization to remove the rotten and unjust capitalist government and replace it with a workers’ and poor peasants’ government committed to carrying out the socialist transformation of Nigeria.
With the lack of determination on the part of most trade union leaders to defend workers’ interests, the DSM formed the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) to campaign against casualization, poor working conditions, and to demand a living pension and wage and defend the rights of workers victimized while protecting their rights. The DSM stands for democratic trade unions, with no privileged leaderships, that fight for their members’ interests. We also work in community organizations, like the Ajegunle Peoples Movement, in Lagos.
Our Work in the Student Movement
Amongst students the DSM has a long record of struggle. Members of the DSM led the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in the early 1980s and NANS’ south-western zone (Zone D) at different times up to 2004. We work among students and education workers on different campuses to struggle against fees, for respect of democratic rights, improvement in working conditions and against other neo-liberal attacks on education.
As a result of the ideological decay of the NANS, the DSM founded the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) in 2004 as a platform to campaign for the provision of a free, functional, public-funded and democratically managed education sector. The ERC also solidarizes with education workers in defense of their democratic rights and for improved working and living conditions. With the ERC, we have organized many interventions, campaigns, protests and demonstrations against government vicious anti-poor education policies and victimization of worker and student activists.
The DSM also stands for the rebuilding of a campaigning and fighting national students’ movement. The ERC, while campaigning for the rebuilding of the NANS as a fighting and truly democratic organ of Nigerian students, has been trying to fill the void created by the right-wing, moribund elements that have continuously led this student body in recent times.
We Fight for a Working Class Political Party as a Vehicle for Socialist Revolution
Since our inception, the DSM has argued for the creation of a mass working peoples’ party with socialist programme as a platform to give oppressed workers, youths and poor masses a political voice as well as a vehicle to mobilize for a change of society from unjust capitalism to one in which the stupendous resources of the country can be democratically planned and judiciously used to cater for the welfare of the majority. In the 1980s we called on the NLC to actualize its call for a workers’ party and DSM members were active in the short-lived Nigerian Labour Party (NLP) in 1989.
DSM members were also active in building the National Conscience Party (NCP) right from its formation by Gani Fawehinmi in October 1994. The failure of the NLC leaders to build a workers’ party meant that many change seeking elements looked towards the NCP. From 1994, the DSM worked to build the NCP while arguing that socialist policies are necessary if the NCP was going to be able to achieve its aim of “abolishing poverty”. In the heavily rigged 2003 elections, DSM members standing as NCP candidates scored the party’s highest votes, officially winning over 77,000 votes (9%) in the Lagos West senatorial district and 11,000 votes (14%) in the Ifako-Ijaiye federal constituency in Lagos. However, we were forced out of the party in 2007 after the take-over of the party leadership by rightwing, pro-capitalist elements following the resignation of the party’s founding chairman, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
Currently we are critical of the Labour Party (LP) originally formed by the NLC but which has no working class base, ideology or programme. Though it has the potential to become a mass working peoples’ political alternative, the LP as it is presently constituted and oriented cannot serve the interest of the working masses. It is being built as the second-eleven of capitalist parties. This is why we continue to campaign for Labour and radical forces to either reclaim LP or form a fighting mass working peoples’ party armed with socialist programme.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN)
While campaigning for labour to form and build a new mass working people’s party, the DSM has decided to take the initiative to form and register a political party called the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN). The SPN is a political party for workers, youths and the poor. We believe this is the best direction to take in this period given the failure of the leadership of the trade unions to build the Labour Party as a fighting working peoples’ party and the absence of any other registered genuine pro-workers’ party. We call on workers, youths and the poor to join the party and help build it as a party for the millions and not a few millionaire looters.
We Stand For the Unity of the Working Class and Poor Masses
With the rising wave of ethnic and religious tension and violence in the country, the DSM also campaigns for the unity of the working people and youth of different ethnic and religious backgrounds while defending the right of all ethnic groups to full self-determination. Standing opposed to sectarian strife, the organization advocates joint struggles by the working people for better living and working conditions and against capitalist attacks on jobs, wages, education, health and other social services.
As part of an international movement, the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), the DSM stands in full solidarity with the struggles of workers and the oppressed around the world. The DSM strives to build strong links between and, where possible, joint struggles by workers and the oppressed not just in Africa but internationally.
One of the major activities of DSM is the education of a new generation of working class and youth activists in the genuine ideas of Marxism as propagated and developed by Lenin and Trotsky in the period before, during and after the October socialist revolution in Russia. The DSM endeavors to explain that these ideas have nothing in common with those of Stalinism which undermined the Russian revolution and which prepared the way for the restoration of capitalism there and in other countries like China. We organize seminars, symposia and schools and publish political education materials. An important way to help spread DSM ideas and further build a socialist alternative is by making regular donations and helping sell our publications.
The DSM works alongside all activists seeking to defend and improve the position of working people and the poor, but we always stress the necessity of building a mass socialist movement to change society. This is a key plank of our activity in mass movements, including the trade unions, and why we urge all those who agree with our ideas to join with us in the DSM in fighting to break the grip of capitalism over Nigeria and for a socialist future.
Join us to Fight for the Following:
- Immediate and unconditional reinstatement of all victimized workers, trade unionists and student leaders.
- Immediate repeal of all undemocratic and anti-labour laws.
- Scrapping of the State Security Service (SSS) and all repressive state bodies.
- Abolition of discrimination against women. Equal political, civil, property and social rights for women. Equal pay for work of equal value. Tax relief for women as for men.
- Freedom of expression, association and assembly. Full freedom and independence for trade unions and student bodies without any interference from the state or the management.
- Opposition to restriction on the press
- A genuine multi-party democracy with the right of every individual and group to organize political parties without registration by the government. The right to stand for elections as independent candidates.
- An independent mass working peoples’ political party with socialist programme to provide an alternative to the existing capitalist parties.
- While we boldly stand for a united and democratic Nigeria, we are at the same time fully cognizant of the arbitrary and undemocratic contraption called Nigeria. We believe that Nigeria cannot be held together by force. Therefore we unequivocally support the call for the convocation of a democratically-elected Sovereign National Conference (SNC) comprising elected representative of social groups such as workers, peasant farmers, traders, rank-and-file of the armed forces and police, professionals and ethnic nationalities according to their numerical strength to deliberate and decide on the way forward for the country and draw up a new constitution.
- Right to self-determination.
- For a voluntary democratic socialist federation of Nigeria within which there will be full respect of the democratic, cultural and language rights of all ethnic nationalities.
ARMED FORCES AND POLICE:
- Freedom for the rank-and-file of the armed forces and police to form trade unions and join political parties of their choice.
- The right of the rank-and-file of the armed forces and police to take industrial action to protect their rights.
- For a living wage for the armed forces and police as part of the struggle against corruption and bride-taking.
- No to the authoritarian command-and-obey structure and culture of the police and army. Decisions about the duties and functions of the police and army to be arrived at through democratic discussions which should involve the rank and file
- All officers of the police and army to be elected by the rank and file
- For a democratic police and armed forces controlled by elected representatives of the rank and file, trade unions and community organisations.
LIVING AND WORKING CONDITIONS:
- Free education at all levels
- Free medical care for all
- Provision of decent and affordable public housing
- Provision of welfare benefits for the unemployed, the sick and the elderly
- A monthly minimum wage of N50, 000 with periodic increase to match the rate of inflation.
- Opposition to retrenchment. A job for every unemployed person.
- For democratic and campaigning trade unions with leaderships regularly elected by and accountable to their memberships.
- Provision of adequate and efficient drainage system to prevent flooding.
- Development of well-planned housing policies that do not only guarantee affordable and decent housing but also prevent flooding.
- Investment in research and technology on the mitigation of effects of climate change and on alternative sources of clean energy
- Immediate and comprehensive clean-up as well as adequate compensation when there is pollution.
- Development of policies to confront the challenges of desertification and deforestation.
- Maximum utilization of gas and stoppage of gas flaring.
- Environmental policies that will not be at the expense of safety and food security or driven by profit interests of corporate organizations.
- Abolition of all anti-poor capitalist/imperialist policies of privatization, deregulation and commercialization.
- Abolition of the privatization of PHCN. For democratic public ownership and management of the energy sector and a crash programme funded by government to improve electricity generation and supply
- Nationalization of all oil companies, banks and industry under democratic control and management of the working people with compensation paid to their former private owners only on the basis of proven need.
- A public programme to build more refineries and rehabilitate existing ones to improve Nigeria’s local refining capacity.
- For a programme funded by the state to improve agricultural production through provision of cheap credits, equipment, fertilizers and technical assistance to small and medium scale peasant farmers. For the establishment of state farms and agro-allied industries across the country to be managed by elected committees of farmers, trade unions and government representatives.
- Abolition of the yawning distinction between the rural villages and cities through electrification of all rural areas across the country, provision of decent public housing, standard schools, hospitals, recreation centres, job opportunities with wages in line with the national minimum and all other basic amenities needed for comfortable living.
- Public ownership of the country’s vast resources and wealth under the democratic management and control of the working people.
- Democratic planned management and control of public companies and parastatals by committees comprising elected representatives of workers, consumers, trade unions, NLC and the government.
- A massive public works programme to build roads, houses, railways, schools and hospitals and to generate employment.
- Repudiation of the fictitious foreign debt combined with appeals for fraternal support to the working classes of the imperialist nations.
- Open declaration of assets by public officials with the right of the public to investigate and initiate prosecution of officials found to have illegally acquired assets in excess of their legal income.
- All political, trade union and public officials to live on a wage not exceeding that of the civil service pay structure i.e.an average wage of a skilled worker – aside reasonable and proven expenses incurred in the process of performing their duties.
- Confiscation as public assets without compensation, of all wealth acquired through corruption by the military elite and their civilian counterparts.
- Democratic management of all public departments, agencies and companies. Management committees to comprise elected representatives of workers and the government with right of immediate recall of the elected by the electors if found wanting.
- Democratically elected public tribunals comprising elected representatives of workers, peasant farmers, students, professionals and the government to determine cases of corruption.
A SOCIALIST SOCIETY
- A workers’ and poor peoples’ government based on a socialist programme.
- A socialist federation of Africa as a step towards a world socialist federation to put an end to hunger, poverty, war and environmental destruction.