Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM




DSM Statement, October 8, 2010

As the ruling elite celebrates Nigeria’s 50th anniversary what has dominated public discourse and attracted global attention were two car bomb blasts in Abuja, for which the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) claimed responsibility. Despite the earlier notice of bomb blast by MEND to the security operatives a few days and few hours before the incident, the government could not prevent the mayhem. This act had left over 12 innocent Nigerians dead and several others critically injured. The victims of the bomb blast are rank and file security operatives and ordinary Nigerians who rushed to see what they could salvage after the first blast.

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) commiserates with the families who lost their lives and sustained injuries, and calls on the government to immediately pay adequate compensation to the bereaved families and those injured by the blast.

We unequivocally both condemn the bomb blasts and acts of individual terrorism as a method of struggle. While we cannot now be 100% certain who carried out these bombings, it has been reported that MEND has stated that it unleashed the attack because, “for 50 years the people of the Niger Delta have had their land and resources stolen from them and nothing is worth celebrating.” Yes, the resources have been largely stolen or exploited from the region for the exclusive benefit of the ruling class and multinational oil companies, a situation that have destroyed not just the eco-system of the area, but also means of livelihood. But, throwing bombs or carrying out other forms of individual action as a means to fight back against injustice perpetuated on the working masses will not force the government to concede justified demands. Rather it would allow governments to justify a counter-military/police response that will not only undermine democratic rights but also lay basis for spending huge sums of money on arms and ammunition at the expense of education, health, roads etc.

Besides, act of individual terrorism also isolate the group(s) from the people whom they claim to be fighting for, especially as it substitutes the actions of a few individuals for the task of building a mass movement which is the only force that can defeat capitalism and carry through a socialist transformation of society. It could also make people hesitant of joining struggle for their rights or emancipation because of the taint of terrorism or the illusion that a group is fighting on their behalf.

Bombing, particularly outside the Niger Delta region, has the potential of sectionalizing the struggle and creating divisions amongst Nigerian working masses. The obvious truth is that the struggle of Niger Deltan people must get the support of other Nigerian working masses from other regions before it can succeed. If groups that claim to be struggling for the development and emancipation of the Niger Delta mean more than simply replacing the rule of the national elite with that of local elite, they have to mobilize workers and communities in the region as well as in other regions in Nigeria. This will also mean that the demands of Niger Delta should be linked to the struggle of the working people across the country for democratic rights and improved living conditions in the face of anti-poor neo-liberal attacks.

It is incontrovertible that the self-serving ruling elites in Niger Delta are as guilty as the ruling class of other regions considering the level of corruption, looting and non-provision of basic amenities for the people. Even if the management of the resources (crude oil) in the Niger Delta is entrusted in the elite of the region under this present unjust economic system, the poverty plaguing ordinary Niger Deltans will not be fundamentally resolved. In the same way ordinary Nigerians from the West, East and North never benefited from the rule of their elites. This is more reason why the struggle must unite all strata of the suffering/ordinary masses of the whole country if victory is to be assured.

With the “do or die” dispositions of the different sections of the ruling elite jostling to become President in the general elections, it is not impossible that a section of the ruling class, either within the presidency or outside of it, has instigated the bombing for self-serving political gains. This possibility is not outlandish given the fact that the track record of these murderous elite is marked with violence in general and political killings in particular. Only a few days ago Alhaji Awana Ngala, a All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) National Vice Chairman, was murdered in his home by gunmen who had previously attacked the home of the Ali Modu, the speaker of the Borno state House of Assembly, killing a police guard. These nests of killers could do anything, no matter how heinous, including sacrificing the lives of ordinary people to assume political office being an avenue for blatant looting of the public treasury.

Furthermore, as the 2011 general election draws nearer and the battle getting fiercer, the bombing is a pointer to the degree of violence that would characterize the elections.

Many persons have called for the government to provide adequate security for Nigerians by beefing up the security network as a means of fighting terrorism and other violent crimes. Some have called for a law that will put in place stiffer punishment on terrorism, kidnapping etc. in order to deal with these crimes.

We strongly feel that terrorism and other crimes are products of the social (capitalist) system wherein a few dominates the vast majority; a situation that has created mass misery in the midst of abundance. And to deal with crimes, we have to deal with the root cause, which is to reverse the present inequality. No amount of security measures can stop crimes, it may reduce it for a while, but as poverty increases, and so do crimes. Gun-boat method has never resolved crime anywhere in the world and it will not in Nigeria. For instance, armed robbery as a crime that attracts capital punishment in Nigeria, yet it has not been eradicated or reduced in spite of execution!

The best form of security is not to spend huge sums of money on security and defense that will only entail unbridled surveillance on all of us and brutal attacks on democratic rights with impunity, but by putting in place the economic and social programme that guarantees decent jobs for all, better welfare condition, free and quality education for all, quality and affordable housing, health care etc.

The way out of this vicious cycle of violence, poverty and infrastructural decay is a working class, labour oriented socialist alternative. The ruling class in Nigeria has shown clearly their inability to resolve any of the problems plaguing this country. Therefore, the working class, particularly the labour movement must build a political movement widespread and strong enough to oust the present ruling class from power with an agenda to massively invest in basic infrastructures and social programme under democratic management and control of the working class in order to meet the needs of all. As the 2011 general election draws closer, there is an urgent need to form and build a genuine mass working class political party that will contest for power.

But if, as seems more and more likely, this is not done before the election, it will not be the end of matter. The 2011 elections, especially if they are “won” by the current gang of exploiters, will not open the way to the true liberation of the mass of Nigerians. Struggles will inevitably unfold in the future and socialists will strive to build a movement which can not only transform society but will also deal with the criminal elite who have wrecked havoc with the lives of tens of millions of Nigerians.

Segun Sango, General Secretary, Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)