Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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9 June 2004

PRESS RELEASE

THE CURRENT STRIKE: THE ISSUES INVOLVED

(1) The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) uses this medium to congratulate the Nigerian working masses on the successful prosecution of the on going general strike called by Labour and civil society organisations to protest the fresh wave of attacks on Nigerians by the anti-poor Obasanjo led PDP capitalist government viz-a-viz the unjustifiable, inexplicable and vexatious increase in price of petroleum products.

(2) That the first day of the strike recorded a solid success despite government misinformation and intimidation (through police harassment of peaceful strikers and demonstrators) and despite the absence of adequate grassroot mobilisation of the working masses on the part of labour, demonstrates the deep anger and resolve of the Nigerian masses to resist the anti-poor capitalist policies of Obasanjo government. It also reveals that with the proper mobilisation and education to raise their consciousness, the Nigerian masses will struggle for genuine change.

(3) For instance, along Ipaja Road in Agege Local Government of Lagos where a group of DSM members organised the people in peaceful procession and gathering, in the spirit of the strike, the working masses revealed inherent potential to struggle if adequately educated and mobilised. Hundreds of leaflets were circulated and even old editions of our paper, Socialist Democracy (SD), some dating back to May 2001 were received with enthusiasm. In the interior part of the communities where our members also staged procession, the people demonstrated openly that they are receptive of our agitations and also joined in the denouncement of the Obasanjo anti-poor policies.

(4) Against the background of support by the masses, the NLC must fight to ensure that this strike produces concrete benefits to the masses. There is no basis to enter into any rotten agreement with the government. Labour must ensure that government not only revert back to old prices, there must also be availability of products and uniformity of prices. A situation where products are available at official prices only in Lagos and Abuja must be opposed. Towards this end, labour should initiate an institutional apparatus to ensure compliance by the marketers devoid of the present deceit of the marketing body set up by government. The impression must not also be created that the strike is about petrol alone, but kerosene and diesel, which is used by the poor masses and industries chiefly. Therefore any resolution of the present fuel crisis must be total and comprehensive. Labour must fashion out a pro-masses alternative policies and measures of fuel sales and distribution as opposed to the present IMF/World Bank anti-people policy on petroleum distribution and sales.

(5) Interestingly not only labour is opposed to the Obasanjo government on the current issue. Even usually pro-establishment individuals and groups have been mouthing opposition to the regime in a way or the other. Significantly however, none of these individuals and groups, including the CNPP, ANPP, AD, etc are fundamentally opposed to the system to which Obasanjo represent – capitalism, neither do they have any fundamental alternative, they are simply rival bands of robbers fighting for positions to loot from. To achieve maximum gains, labour should squarely concentrate on its working class constituency and continue to organise and mobilise them. We hereby restate our earlier calls for strike/action committees in various localities, which will be saddled with responsibility of disseminating information to the striking working masses on the next stage of the struggle and positions of their leaders. It will organise mass rallies at the local government, wards and street levels with leaflets, posters, megaphone to speak to and educate the poor masses, in the language they will understand, of the next stage of the struggle and how they can take part.

(6) Following from the above, we call on organised labour under the auspices of the NLC, TUC, CFTC, etc to put machinery in motion for the convocation of a working peoples’ summit involving trade unions, genuinely progressive political parties and organisations like the NCP, Labour Party, DA, DSM, etc, the student movement, etc to work out an agenda for the formation of a pan-Nigerian working class political formation, to struggle for both regime and system change. Experience has shown that the Obasanjo led PDP capitalist government and the entire ruling capitalist class are incurably committed to inflicting suffering on the Nigerian working masses through such polices as intermittent increase in price of petroleum products, devaluation of the currency, privatisation, commercialisation and deregulation and various other pro-imperialist, neo-liberal capitalist policies. So long as capitalism, the system that perpetuates abject poverty for the overwhelming majority of the people to satisfy the selfish profit motive of a tiny few in the ruling class remains, so long will the working people be visited with one form of attack or the other.

(7) Only a democratic socialist arrangement wherein key sectors of the economy like the big banks, refineries, electricity and communication industries, etc are nationalized and placed under workers’ and poor farmers’ democratic management and control with production geared towards satisfying the needs of the people and not the profit of the few, as is presently the case, can fundamental changes come the way of the poor, working people.

(8) While there may be attempts to call off this strike today we wish to restate our support for "a 72-hour general strike" to kick start the process of regime and system change. That is, the on going strike action should be used as a warning strike to mobilise and build the consciousness of the working masses for a bigger, sustainable struggle against the regime and the entire gamut of its anti-poor, pro-IMF/World Bank policies. This makes imperative, a 72 hour warning strike to prepare the people for a greater task of defeating Obasanjo and capitalism.

(9) We condemn police harassment of strikers and peaceful demonstrators as evidenced by the arrest of Mr. Femi Aborishade, the National General Secretary of the National Conscience Party (NCP), the harassment and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators, led by DSM members along Ipaja Road and in many other places in the Lagos metropolis. We call for the immediate release of Mr. Femi Aborishade and immediate halt to police harassment and intimidation.

SEGUN SANGO

General Secretary