Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

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3rd June 2003

LOCAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS IN LAGOS, NIGERIA:

APPEAL FOR SUPPORT FROM SOCIALIST CANDIDATES

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Three members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), the Nigerian section of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), are standing on the platform of the National Conscience Party (NCP) as candidates for councillors in the elections into Ajeromi Ifelodun local government council in Lagos State, Nigeria. Recently the local government elections, originally scheduled for 28th June 2003, were indefinitely postponed by the Federal Government.

The three socialist candidates are Akingbade Saheed (for Ward A councillor), Oyenka Obi (Ward B) and Opia Matthew (Ward E).

The three comrades are leading activists within the NCP and DSM. Saheed is a teacher and he is the publicity secretary of the Ajeromi Ifelodun local chapter of NCP. Obi is a commercial bus driver and treasurer of the Ajegunle branch of DSM while Matthew is also a teacher, general secretary of Ajeromi Ifelodun NCP as well as coordinator of Ajegunle DSM.

The Ajeromi Ifelodun local government area is a thickly populated area and one of the most impoverished not only in Lagos State but Nigeria as a whole. It is home to Ajegunle, a big multi-ethnic shanty town notorious for its mass poverty, huge unemployment, slum housing, bad roads, dirty environment and high crime rate. In Nigeria, the word "Ajegunle" is synonymous with grinding poverty.

Members of the DSM have been doing tremendous campaign work in the Ajegunle area for many years. Four years ago, they initiated the formation of an Ajegunle Youth Movement (AYM) to fight against the plan of the Lagos State Government to demolish Ajegunle and sell the land to the rich. By mobilising the youth and other residents of the area, the AYM played a major role in that struggle and the state government has not been able to go ahead with this anti-poor plan. Through the AYM and later the NCP, the socialist activists have also organised other campaigns to improve the appalling living conditions in the area.

The local council election campaign will give the socialist activists a further opportunity to build on the work they have been doing in the area and reach out to a much wider layer of the working people and youth. It will enable the NCP and DSM sink deeper roots in the community. With the new recruits being won into the DSM during the election campaign, the comrades intend to set up a second branch of the DSM in Ajegunle.

The comrades plan to circulate at least 6,000 posters and 30,000 copies of the comrades' election manifestos during the campaign. They will also hire buses and sound systems, among other expenses. It is estimated that a sum of N155,000 (USD 1,200) will be needed for the campaign.

Funds are also still needed to settle bills arising from the campaign for the elections into the National Assembly (held on the 12th April) and the state houses of assembly (3rd May) in which eight DSM members stood as NCP candidates in Lagos and Oyo states.

Generally the DSM members standing for the NCP achieved good results given the character of the elections, especially the widespread vote buying and rigging. In the Lagos West Senatorial constituency Lanre Arogundade, a founding member of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), achieved one of the best results for the NCP gaining 77,330 votes, 9.64%, and coming third behind the AD (party of the Lagos State Governor) and PDP (President Obasanjo's party) out of 30 candidates.

In Nigeria donations should be given through our website or to local DSM branches or brought to our National Secretariat. Outside Nigeria funds can be donated via the website or sent to the CWI, PO Box 3688, London E11 1YE, Britain and made payable to the CWI.

Yours in solidarity

Friday Foluso

DSM National Secretariat

 

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