Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

DSM Holds National Committee (NC) Meeting

DSM Holds National Committee (NC) Meeting

At its National Committee (NC) meeting held between September 23 and 24, 2006, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) x-rayed the capitalist induced socio-economic problems confronting humanity in Nigeria and internationally and came to a conclusion that only the working class unity and a working people political alternative built on a socialist programme nationally and internationally can rescue the poor working people and poor peasants from poverty, hunger, diseases, etc, that have become their lots.

The meeting examines the last 7˝ years of Obasanjo regime. It notes that despite the fact that, as a study reveals, three-quarters of the total oil revenue that has been generated by Nigeria since flag independence was realised under the present Obasanjo government, the regime has inflicted the crudest form of neo-liberal attack on the living conditions of the poor masses. The comatose social services, deplorable infrastructure, ravaging poverty etc, which are the defining features of Nigeria, belie the fabulous wealth that the country has amassed under this dispensation.

The neo-liberal economic counter-reforms of Obasanjo government that entail privatisation, commercialisation, cuts in social spending, retrenchment of workers, etc have meant that the enormous resources of the country are not committed to provide for the basic needs of poor masses. Rather, as the ongoing mudslinging between Obasanjo and his deputy Atiku has shown, the public resources are used to serve the self-interest and greed of top government officials and their cronies. Obasanjo’s part ownership of Transcorp, which has been buying up choicest public properties like NITEL, Nicon Hilton, oil blocs, etc has underscored privatisation as the mother of all corrupt practices.

Notwithstanding the rabid infighting between various sections of the ruling elite, the absence of a formidable political alternative has meant that the 2007 elections will produce another set of thieving capitalist politicians to preserve the anti-poor socio-economic arrangement, uphold the vicious neo-liberal attacks on the poor working masses and deepen the official corruption.

But retaining power has not automatically meant a bed of roses for the ruling elite with its anti-poor programme. Counter-revolution could be a whiplash of revolution. It is not ruled out that the intense anti-working people offensive can help activate a mass revolt that could end the rule of the thieving elite. However, this prospect will only materialise provided that there is a shift to the left by the labour leaders who will be ready to wage consistent battle meant to guarantee education, health care, decent jobs, water, foods, electricity and all basic needs for workers and poor masses. More importantly, the labour leaders will have to work towards formation of a working people alternative that could exploit the opportunity thrown up by the mass anger to wrest political power with the ultimate agenda of transforming the society.

On another hand, if the working class people fail to channel the deep-seated anger to a challenge for power, there is prospect of deepening reactions that could take forms of ethnic or religious strife threatening to split the country apart. This is because the poor masses will tend to find outlet to dissipate their pent-up anger against the system. Sadly, an opportunistic section of the ruling elite who feels marginalized could whip up ethnic or religious sentiment and rally the poor masses around for its self-serving interests. Already, the agitation for “resource control” in Niger Delta has shown the potential of a section of the oppressed and exploited finding solution within the confines of ethnicity to the fundamental problem of capitalism particularly in a neo-colonial economy, when there is no working class alternative in place. The agitation has also found echo with the thieving ruling elite of the Niger Delta who long to have as loot a bigger share of tax collected from the multinationals who actually control the resources.

In fact, the crisis could be so aggravated and insoluble that the prospect of a military take-over will not be out of place. Already, there exist some elements like corruption, political killing, mass disenchantment, etc that provided ostensible basis for the previous military putsch. What has apparently kept the military at bay are the piled-up hatred against military rule and the deepening ethno-religious divides in Nigeria. The ethno-religious factor is in the sense that a military coup prosecuted by officers from ethnic or religious background other than that of the incumbent could lead to conflict threatening the unity of the country.

To the international community led by the US imperialism the unity of Nigeria is imperative for profitably oil exploitation. Ordinarily, the world imperialism would have lent support to the agitation of Niger Delta for self-determination with hope that could guarantee cheap oil. But on a much deeper thought it would have realized the crisis that could generate can be too complex for it to handle to the extent of threatening the oil supply. This is because the elites of the other sections of the country would not let go the Niger Delta with the oil that provide them with the ill gotten wealth without a fiery fight. John Negroponte, the overall head of the US intelligence services, stated that much in February 2006, though in relation to the third term, when he warned of a possibility of “major turmoil and conflict” that “could lead to disruption of oil supplies, secessionist moves by regional governments and major refugee flows and instability elsewhere in West Africa” (Financial Times (London), February 21, 2006). Therefore, in order to safeguard the continued supply of oil from the West and Central African coastal areas, the US has not only stationed its navy and warship on the gulf of guinea, it has constituted the costal countries in the region – Nigeria, Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe into the Gulf of Guinea Energy Security.

As Marxists, DSM supports the right of nationalities to self-determination including the right to secede if democratically decided by a given nationality. However, DSM firmly holds the view that the different nationalities within a given country and internationally need at all times to unify their struggles for better living conditions and political freedom. Without this approach, substantial and permanent victory over the exploiting and oppressing capitalist class will forever remain elusive within individual nationalities and internationally. In Niger Delta question for instance, any attempt to simply excise the oil rich region from Nigeria will bring back the orgy of fake, bourgeois nationalism to keep Nigeria one at all cost. Suffice to stress that this will deprive the oppressed masses of that region the needed mass support across the country in their just struggle. DSM argues that the issue of the emancipation of the Niger Delta masses from relentless suffering in the midst of plenty must of necessity be built on an outlook and strategy which simultaneously seeks to emancipate the working masses across the country from endless capitalist induced mass poverty.

For us, solving the socio-economic and political crises of Nigeria and ensuring the working class unity require a working people political alternative built on a socialist programme. We shall continue to campaign for the formation of the party. But in the interim, we have been calling for the collaboration on programme between National Conscience Party and Labour Party, which have the potential of being mass based parties of the oppressed and exploited. We have however kept adding that for the parties to truly represent the interests and aspirations of the poor working people and be imprinted on the consciousness, they have to be fighting parties that identify with workers and poor masses on their daily struggles for improved living standards and against capitalist onslaughts.