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 17, 2005

NLC/LASCO anti-fuel hike rallies

A ROARING SUPPORT FOR REGIME CHANGE IN BENIN

Like in Lagos, the turn out was massive, shops were closed in all the routes of the processions, traffic was extremely low. The march began at about 8 am from the University of Benin Gate area, with a large crowd of students, youths and workers, led by the NLC president, Adams Oshiomhole, gathering more and more crowd of workers and traders as the procession protest\rally moved through Lagos Road, through New Benin and all other major streets of Benin. Thousands of supporters lined the streets and residential areas to vent their anger against the government, applauded the initiative of the labour leaders in organising and leading the protest as well as urged them for further action.

All through the march were chants and songs of "Obasanjo Ole", "Ole-Ole, Ole, Ole-Ole, Ole-Ole" (Ole is the Yoruba word for a looter) and "Obasanjo must go". The protesters did not fall shy of making their demand publicly known, in spite of the heavy Police presence all through the streets of Benin. If anything it offered a comic relief from the monotonic "Obasanjo must go" chants and song, as Police were greeted with the chant of "Police-N20" (a reference to N20 bribe that is always demanded by the Police from commercial drivers in all parts of the country), which the protesters were never tired of returning to after, the Police bashing.

In the thick of the crowd was a sound system blaring with the music of African China, "food no dey! water no dey! our road no good!" and that of Edris, "Nigeriajaggajagga! Poorman dey suffer suffer! gunshot inna the air!" repeated over and over to the rowing approval of the protesters and by standers. With this a carnival mood was struck, it was indeed a gathering festival of the oppressed. At the popular Ring road, the crowd became so mammoth that a rally had to held on the spot. Speakers after speakers pointed out the anti-people stand of the present government, among which included, Festus Iyayi, Osagie Obayuwana, national chairman of the NCP, who heads the civil society section of LASCO in Edo State, Dipo Fashina, former ASUU president, a lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University.

Most graphic was the market women leader who is about 75 years old, who in spite of her frail state, climbed the podium and said that Obasanjo was a tenant in Aso Rock, and that it was time for him to go and vacate the premises and hand over Aso Rock to the people. When the news of the Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha’s arrest in London for money laundering and with the sum of one million Pounds sterling in his possession, was brought to the notice of the crowd by one of the speakers, the crowd responded that Obasanjo’s days were numbered.

The DSM comrades, who had a little hitch since they were trapped in different sections of the crowd, began their major sales of their Socialist Democracy paper from the Ring road rally, and the response was good. Two comrades from Lagos had remained behind in the Ring road area even long after the procession had moved on to Government House, selling and canvassing with buyers after buyers seeking for more clarification as to the way forward. People wanted to know if it was a regular newspaper and where they could get it. We patiently explained to them what we stand for and how they could join us so that we could jointly struggle together to change the society for better.

Like in Lagos too, the Police were not left out. This new regime of Police mingling with protesters afforded us the opportunity to sell the paper to them, at least one to two bought a copy in every crowd of Police we met. This is good, as the present edition of the Socialist Democracy features an editorial article on the state of the police.

At the Government House, the gates were locked and protesters were not allowed in, which explains why the DSM comrades were still able to meet with them in spite of having to walk all the distance making stop over and selling the paper along the route to the Government house. The Governor was unwilling to receive the crowd, and took a period of more than a hour before putting an appearance, a consequence of the insistence of the protesters to deliver LASCO petition to Obasanjo. When the Governor finally turned up, he was booed at for a period of about 10 minutes non-stop, with disapproving chants of "wu, wu, wu", before the NLC president bailed him out by presenting the petition, with the governor response simply being that he would deliver the message to Abuja. The crowd did not expect anything less from the Governor, giving his extreme unpopularity in Benin.

No doubt, this rally was also a success, and the labour leaders again have met with an endorsement of their action, earned the necessary approval and credited needed from the working masses, to go ahead with formation of a political platform to challenge the ruling elites. We in the DSM shall continue to canvass in LASCO as well as among the masses, that such a political formation must adopt an anti-capitalist and anti neo-liberal reform programmes, not just in rhetoric, but in deed by adopting a socialist alternative.

We are preparing for the next rallies which comes up in the north, in Kano and Yola on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, to again put to test and win an approval for the cry for regime and system change in Nigeria with
revolutionary enthusiasms.

A total of 200 copies of the latest full edition of Socialist Democracy were sold.

 

Dagga Tolar, Editor, Socialist Democracy