Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)
For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria
Newspaper of the DSM
NIGERIA SOCIAL FORUM
"Another Nigeria Is Possible": Yes, But Only Under Socialism
By Eko John Nicholas
As a follow-up to the first Nigeria Social Forum held in Makurdi in 2004, the Second Nigeria Social Forum (NSF) recently took place in Lagos, with the theme: "Another Nigeria is possible" between 14th to 18th November, 2005 with participants drawn across the country.
The Nigeria Social Forum is purely a gathering of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are directly funded by international agencies whose goals are centred on reformist programmes meant to act as palliative measures amidst an increasing attack on working class people by the government arising from the neo-liberal anti-poor capitalist policies as dictated by the IMF and the World Bank. Some of these NGOs are under the control of ex-Stalinists and human rights activists with radical background. They are increasingly conscious of the unabated miseries faced by the working people due to the neo-liberal policies of the government but lack the necessary understanding or political will to bring about a change of system and regime. They have opted for nebulous reformist packages ostensibly to alleviate the suffering of the mass of the working class people of Nigeria within the confines of capitalism. Hence the slogan "Another Nigeria is Possible".
IS ANOTHER NIGERIA POSSIBLE?
Yes, another Nigeria is possible. Having followed closely the week- long events of the Nigeria Social Forum and its agenda, one cannot but agree that the deliberations and resolutions, if carried through, will impact positively on the lives of the working class people of Nigeria. But under the present arrangement, where the Obasanjo led government is head-deep in the implementations of IMF/World Bank induced neo-colonial policies of privatisation, commercialisation, deregulation, etc all the lofty objectives set out to achieve at the Nigeria Social Forum for another Nigeria without posing an alternative system are farce.
Is NSF prepared to be part of the movement for change to bring about another Nigeria that will meet our collective yearnings and aspirations? This is very unlikely. The NGOs representatives funded by billionaire capitalists will report back to their various financiers, both foreign and local. It will be ludicrous to expect them to threaten the interest of their funders and the system that profits them. At best, they could, under an amorphous platform, agitate for reforms of some aspect of the polity.
A DAY OF ACTION NEEDED
If NSF is to be seen as a movement prepared to pose alternative, it must be ready to go beyond its talk shops and paper works meant to bring about reforms in the system. Segun Sango, DSM General Secretary and one of the leading speakers on the last day of the forum called on NSF organizers to immediately commence reaching out to the broad layers of the society, mass organisations, Trade unionists, farmers, market women and women, radical political parties and other civil society organisations etc, to formulate a programme of action of building a popular movement which, primarily relies on mass actions to actualise its goals. Accordingly, January 18, 2006 has been scheduled as a day of action to struggle against poverty and the neo-liberal, anti-poor policies of the Obasanjo led capitalist government. Having fixed the date, the organizers should reach out to the labour, pro-labour organisations, human rights groups, youths, students, etc and commence mobilisation for the action plan. More importantly, the movement should, in the long run, be built on popular platform and armed with alternative programmes and ideas to wrestle power from the pro-market ruling parties.
Although, the NSF was dominated by NGOs professionals, the intervention of the Democratic Socialist Movement was highly instructive. Segun Sango who was one of the leading speakers at the forum spoke on the themes: "Unemployment, Poverty and Development" and "Alternative Strategies for change". On both occasions, he demanded a break with the capitalist system, which is responsible for poverty and mass miseries through the formation of a broad based working peoples political party built on socialists basis to wrestle power from the present regime. He also demanded a day of action to campaign against the neo-liberal policies of the Obasanjo led PDP government like education privatisation and commercialisation, etc.
The DSM also anchored a roundtable discussion on the theme: "Who Owes Who? The Debt Question". With facts and figures the DSM made it clear that Nigeria and other so-called indebted African countries do not owe in real term, as they have repaid much more than the original loans collected. Besides, Africa is a net exporter of capital to the West arising from the enormous wealth that has been plundered right from the trans-Atlantic slave trade through colonial era to the current epoch of neo-colonialism and the stashing away of the stolen money of the continent. The participants agreed to our positions and adopted our proposed resolution that the NSF should call for outright cancellation of Nigeria and Africa's debt without conditionality attached and the repatriation of the stolen wealth of Africa stashed in foreign banks by the corrupt pro-west leaders.
The members of DSM also attended some other sessions, viz.: "Between Rights and Reforms", "Promoting Gendered Alternatives to Neo-Liberal Economic Policies", "Gender Equality", "Feminism and the Next Generation", "Youth Posing Alternatives for Human Development in Nigeria". In all these panels, our ideas the need for a socialist transformation of the society - was openly canvassed as the only genuine alternative to the present capitalist rot in Nigeria.
Our materials and literature were also displayed with our banner denouncing the ills of capitalism. Materials and literature worth N8,400 were sold at the five day programme. We made new contacts and two individuals were recruited.
The effort of the Nigeria Social Forum is commendable, but there is a need to immediately commence the mobilisation of the different strata of the society for the January 18 day of action. ore importantly, the NSF should reach out to other organisations like DSM, NLC, CFTU, TUC, NANS, NCP, DA and other civil society groups to commence discussion on the formation of a broad left platform, that will crystallise into a mass movement that will overthrow this present capitalist government that means nothing but miseries and poverty for mass of the working class and entrenching socialism with public ownership of the commanding height of the economy under democratic workers management and control for poverty to be made history. Based on this, another Nigeria will be possible.