Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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Committee for a Workers' International


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September 15, 2005

Lagos rally against fuel rise hike

 

MASS TURN-OUT SHOWS WILLINGNESS TO STRUGGLE

 

SOCIALIST CALL FOR ACTION GETS GOOD RESPONSE

 

The massive turn-out by Nigerians in their hundreds of thousands to a rally called by Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) against the incessant increase in the fuel price and other neo-liberal, anti-poor polices of the Obasanjo led PDP government on Wednesday, 14 September, 2005 is another testimony to the fact that Nigerian poor working people are ever prepared to struggle for a change. What has been holding them back is leadership. With a correct labour leadership and focus, the poor working masses have resolved to kick-out the pro-rich and anti-poor Obasanjo’s regime as nothing positive, as long as this regime and its anti-poor policies hold sway, can come to the masses way.

 

Apart from the Democratic Socialist Movement’s contributions in planning for the rally at the LASCO leadership level, Segun Sango, the DSM general secretary, has appeared in series of television programmes towards mobilising for the rally. For instance on Monday 12 September, he was on Lagos state television (LTV8) stating LASCO’s plans and urging the masses to participate in the rallies in Lagos and other major cities nationally and again, on Thursday, 15 September, on Muri International Television (MITV).

 

In planning and preparation for the rally, we had proposed to LASCO a declaration of a work-free day or a sit at home for Lagos workers to allow them participate in the rally but this was not adopted. However, the depth of anger of the masses against the regime was demonstrated with major offices and banks shut as most people stayed at home. The local wing of Murtala Muhammed Airport also recorded low passenger patronage. The traffic on major roads was very low as commercial vehicle operators stayed off the road leaving some commuters stranded. The ever-busy Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Pen Cinema in Agege, Ikorodu Expressway were virtually empty until after the rally.

 

In addition to our intervention in the rally that kicked-off from National Stadium on Western Avenue, Surulere and terminated at the Lagos State secretariat at Alausa, Ikeja, comrades in Agege, Ajegunle, and Ejigbo branches organised rallies and protests in their respective branches with banners, placards, and leaflets. For instance, the NEW AGE newspaper of Thursday, 15 September 2005 reported " The Democratic Socialist Movement in Agege Local government area of Lagos also organised a peaceful protest in support of the NLC-led fuel price increment rally …The DSM protesters carried placards, some which read "Obasanjo must resign now; Nigerians are tired of anti-people’s policies; We want more jobs, not retrenchment, among others. Police officers stationed at strategic places around these areas did not disrupt the rally. DSM took its protest to the Lagos state government secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja where hand bills with inscriptions as " Fuel price hike, chase out Obasanjo regime" and "fight all anti-poor policies" were distributed to people".

 

Again in Ajegunle, where seven of the victimised Flour Mills workers worked and participated with Ajegunle’s DSM comrades rally and intervention, Daga Toler, Editor of Socialist Democracy, was arrested at Boundary in Ajegunle at about 8 a.m and was detained at Area B Apapa Police station. Overwhelmed by the level of mobilisation and the massive turn-out, the District Police Officer (DPO) released Dagga at about 10am (two hours later) and gave him N500 to transport himself to join the rally and protesters. He also informed him of the exact place where the protesters were.

 

While delivering the LASCO letter to Governor Tinubu of Lagos State for onward delivery to President Obasanjo, NLC President Adam Oshiomhole called "on labour unions to form a political coalition towards getting political solutions to the problems at hand". This statement is a radical departure from labour leaders’ previous responses and positions whenever DSM calls for formation of an independent working peoples platform with the goal of capturing political power and implement pro-people policies.

 

The rally, which started as early as 8am from the National Stadium in Western Avenue, Surulere and moved to Yaba, Maryland, Ikeja and terminated at Alausa at about 2pm after about a 15 kilometer walk, had in attendance, Adams Oshiomhole, Mrs. Peace Obiajulu, NLC and TUC Presidents respectively, Dr. Beko Kuti, JAF Chairman. Others present were Professor Wole Soyinka, Convener, Citizen Forum; Dr. Fredrick Faseun, Founder, OPC; Mr. Femi Falana, NCP Deputy National Chairman South-West; Segun Sango, General Secretary, DSM; Chima Ubani, Executive Director, CLO; Abiodun Aremu, Convener, UA; Dr. Dipo Fasina, former ASUU President among others.

 

1,000 copies August/September edition of Socialist Democracy and 45 copies of the July special "Debt pardon" edition were sold with 10,000 leaflets distributed. Nothing less that 50 DSM comrades participated in the rally. Some people have called and sent text messages to the DSM Secretariat wanting to join us after having read some of our materials. We intend to intervene in all major cities, including Benin, Jos, Yola, Kano, Kaduna and Abuja, where rallies will be held with the goal of spreading our ideas of a regime and system change.