Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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February 23, 2006

Lagos Symposium in commemoration of Beko

A symposium organised by Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) as part of activities lined up for the burial ceremony of Beko Ransome Kuti was held on Thursday, February 23, 2006 in Lagos.

Among the speakers at the event, which was attended by about 60 labour and civil society activists and journalists, were Adams Oshiomhole, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ms. Peace Obiajulu, President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Frank Kokori, former General Secretary of NUPENG who was the chairman of the occasion, Dipo Fashina, former President, ASUU and Comrade Segun Sango, General Secretary, DSM.

Comrade Adams Oshiomhole while delivering his speech briefly introduced the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) new pamphlet on Casualisation stating however that Labour was the first to bring the casualisation issue to the consciousness of the public. He had bought the pamphlet and two editions of the Socialist Democracy on Oyo Crisis and Beko respectively on his arrival at the venue. He commended the efforts of CDWR in the fight against casualisation. He also introduced the Socialist Democracy on Oyo crisis. He categorically stated that the DSM is always very critical of labour leaders but that at every point in time the DSM makes public statements that tend to proffer a way forward. He promised to read through the special SD to see if our analysis and way forward is correct. He however tended to support the position of the DSM on why masses and the labour should not pitching tent with any party in the Oyo crisis

He spoke with high regards of Beko, stating that he was a man that gave allowance to people to take chances provided it can bring good results. He cited an instance when LASCO sent delegation to the ‘Mantu palliative committee on fuel price’, stating that Beko jokingly commented that he had no business with any ‘mantuing’ or ‘dismantling’ committee but that what he wanted was a solution to the incessant pump price increases and its attendant hardship on Nigerians.

Comrade Segun Sango in his speech emphasised on the need for labour leadership and the civil society groups to come together and form a formidable political platform with the aim of wrestling power from the present corrupt politicians. He stressed that labour has enormous power, which has been demonstrated in the series of general strikes it led in the recent past. He stated that with right philosophy, programmes and objective we can win political power. For 2007 not to be business as usual for corrupt politicians, we all need to work together and carry the poor and oppressed millions of Nigerians along by providing a formidable leadership with socialist alternative programme.

Comrade Lanre Arogundade, a DSM member, gave a brief tribute to Beko stating how closely he worked with Beko when he was President of NANS (National Association of Nigerian Students) in 1984. He threw a political challenge to the labour leaders. In the 2003 elections he contested the Lagos West Senate seat on the NCP platform and, despite not being a household name among the masses, officially scored 77, 000 votes. This illustrated the potential that much more renown activists could have if they contested on the basis of coalition of pro-masses parties and organisations, indeed they would perform much better. He therefore challenged labour and all pro-masses organisations to come together under one platform and contest the 2007 elections to win political power in the interest of the poor masses

Towards the end of the symposium, the LASCO leadership, at the instance of Segun Sango, issued a press statement demanding the unconditional release of all the activists who were arrested and detained by the police while on a peaceful protest at one of the venues of the constitutional review hearings at Oshogbo, Osun State on Wednesday, February 22, 2006.