Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

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Socialist Democracy July - August 2003 Index


An impressive number of 56 people (including three journalists) turned up at a symposium (Public meeting) organised by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) at the International Press Centre (IPC), Ogba, Lagos on Saturday, 17th May, 2003.

The symposium was the first in the series of public programmes which the organisation is planning to organise in various areas. They are targeted principally at labour and NCP activists and aimed at assisting activists and DSM members in drawing a proper political and organisational balance sheet of the recent elections held in the country.

The topic of the symposium was "2003 Elections: The Lessons and the Way Forward for the Working People" and three comrades namely Lanre Arogundade (an NCP senatorial candidate in the election, Niyi Adewumi (NCP candidate for Federal House of Representatives) and Segun Sango (DSM general secretary and Lagos state NCP chairman) spoke from the platform.

Among those who attended were two new student members from University of Lagos and Lagos State University who promised to work towards establishing DSM branches in their schools.

A sum of N700 cash and N450 in pledges were raised as struggle fund.




The seemingly poor performance of the NCP and the re-election of the big capitalist parties has understandably led to a mood of disappointment and despair among a certain layer of the masses and NCP activists in particular. Doubts are being raised by some NCP activists on whether it is possible to change society and whether the masses can ever capture political power through the ballot box due to the vote buying, rigging and manipulations often resorted to by the capitalist elite on the one hand and the pervasive poverty and ignorance among the downtrodden masses which make them susceptible to the elite's manipulations on the other.

While speakers at the symposium acknowledged that there were widespread rigging and violence by the major parties during the elections and many of the declared figures were sheer fabrications, they explained that this was not the only reason for the relatively small number of votes which the NCP received. The principal reason is that the NCP as a political party has not yet got sufficient influence and roots among the working masses and in most working class and rural communities that would have enabled it to win the elections. In several local governments and wards, especially outside Lagos State, the party is yet to establish viable structure.

The very short time (four months) between NCP registration by the electoral commission and the time of the elections, the shortage of necessary manpower and finance were also identified by speakers as factors which negatively affected NCP's performance.

Against this background and in view of the widespread use of money to bribe voters by the major parties, the votes which the NCP got in some areas were in fact quite significant politically. In the Lagos West senatorial district, Lanre won 77,330 or 9.64% of the votes while Niyi received 14% of the votes in Ifako-Ijaye federal constituency.

In the state house of assembly election, Akele, a DSM member and trade union leader who was victimised and sacked by the Lagos State government received 15% of the votes in Agege 02 constituency. In Lagos State and in nearly the entire south-western part of the country, the party came third while it succeeded in winning a seat in the Ekiti state house of assembly.

Participants at the symposia agreed that the challenge before the party membership is to build it as a fighting grassroot mass party with presence in every ward, street and home through systematic campaign on issues affecting the working masses. Only the building of such a formidable presence can ensure victory for the party and the masses and neutralise the effects of vote buying and check rigging by the main capitalist parties.

The main speakers also emphasised the need for the NCP to embrace a full socialist programme without which it would be incapable of implementing its 10-care programme and fulfil the yearnings of the working masses.




Lastly, most of the participants spoke on the need to give priority to the building of DSM. This is important not just for the vital task of building the forces for socialist change but also in developing the NCP itself. The outstanding roles of our members have even on many occasions been acknowledged by non-DSM members in the party leadership.

In the same way for the coming period, there is no alternative to building the DSM. Therefore, at all levels of the organisation, we must develop the tradition of regular political discussion to politically prepare ourselves for the storming events that will unfold in the coming period in Nigeria and internationally.

As an immediate task, all branches should now organise meetings and public programmes to draw lessons of the election and to bring into the organisation the contacts we made during the election campaign and other conscious, change-seeking elements.




Socialist Democracy July - August 2003 Index