Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Kola Ibrahim

Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) in Osun State were officially welcomed to the Labour Party in Osun State by the state leadership of the party at a meeting on Sunday, April 19, 2009 at the Labour Party secretariat in Osogbo. The DSM in the state had earlier informed the Labour Party leadership in the state of its intention to join the party and collectively build it as a fighting working class political party of the working and toiling people of Nigeria as a counterweight to the rotten politics of the corrupt capitalist ruling class holding sway in virtually every segment of Nigeria’s polity.

This is more important as the working masses have been stripped of resistance platform to fight against the government’s neo-liberal policies of privatization (with consequent retrenchment), commercialization (and hike in cost of access to social service), deregulation, cut/stagnation in workers’ wages, unemployment, etc. Currently, most of the opposition parties are united in these neo-liberal policies, while they only differ from the ruling party on methods of implementation.

In Osun State, the story is the same gory tale. While the Oyinlola state government has had some funds running to hundreds of billions of naira in the past almost six years, the working but toiling people of the state have been worse off. For instance, while the state physical infrastructures like roads are in deplorable conditions and public housing is virtually non-existent, government officials continue to expand the elitist Government Reservation Area (GRA) for political officials.

While the Oyinlola government claimed not to have money to implement the Teachers’ Salary Scale (TSS), the government sees no reason why public officials’ pay should be slashed to workers’ level so as to show the seriousness of a government in financial distress. On the contrary, when the state was financially buoyant, only the few rich in the corridors of power and big party contractors gained. For instance, while the state government hardly implemented the 25 percent increase in workers salaries early last year, the same government was quick to approve 25 unconstitutional “Executive Assistants” for each local government chairmen at a minimum salary of N50,000! Also, in the past one year, the salaries of political office holders in the state have been increased by over 100 percent.

There is need for a bold fighting political platform of the working and toiling people in the state to champion people’s economic, political and social interest through mass campaigns and struggles. Nigeria and indeed Osun State has enough resources to provide for the needs and welfare interests of the working and toiling people, who create the wealth which has been diverted to gratify the pecuniary interests of the capitalist politicians and their business collaborators. The working and poor people in the state (and indeed in the country) need their own political platform that will be at the head of this struggle against capitalist plundering and violation of people’s democratic rights. The labour leadership in the state that should be the vanguard of these struggles have been enmeshed in an unholy alliance with the state government while only paying lip service to the immediate and long term interests of workers and the poor people.

This however does not mean that there are not genuinely minded working class activists and local labour leaders in the state. In fact, it is partly the recognition of this layer of activists and rank and file workers in the state that the DSM has been agitating for building the Labour Party as a fighting mass party. This is important so as to bring these radical and combatant layer of workers together not only for immediate welfare issues of workers but also on the long term issue of building a strong mass party of the working people. The party, while in power, should commit public resources to the provision of the basic needs of all and infrastructural development. Ultimately, the party should transform to a revolutionary movement that will enthrone a socialist society where the welfare interests of the working and poor people will be the permanent basis of governance and production.

The Labour Party, which should be the traditional political organ of the working people, needs to orientate itself towards the daily struggles of workers and the toiling people in the workplace, communities and schools by mobilizing and building mass movements through press campaigns, propaganda, symposia, rallies, protests marches, pickets, strikes, etc. for the improvement of working and toiling people’s living standards. It also means organizing political activities like mass meetings, political education, etc to link the daily struggle of the working people with the ultimate struggle for a better society. The Labour Party will have to adopt a socialist line of socio-economic formation i.e. public ownership of the major sectors of the economy (which have now been monopolized in the hands of the big business and foreign capitalist vampires) under the direct democratic control of the working people themselves. It is this set of programmes that can mobilise the working people, youths, artisans, unemployed, pensioners, peasants into the party. The party, in order to serve as a genuine alternative, will have to adopt a rank-and-file, bottom-to-top democratic structure that will allow the members to express their democratic rights and collectively build the party. This will avoid a situation where the party will be hijacked by a few clique and moneybags.