Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

AAUA DSM Symposium

AAUA DSM Symposium

Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) generates interest among students

Agbebire Mavellus Chinedu, Coordinator DSM AAUA branch reports

Participants at DSM Akungba symposium - photo DSM

Participants at DSM Akungba symposium – photo DSM

On May 16th 2012, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba- Akoko organised a public symposium with the theme “Can Education Be Totally Free? A Socialist Perspective”. The symposium which attracted over 50 students was held at the Students Relation Centre on campus. Speaking at the event were Comrade Ismaila Waliu a.k.a Mandela, the president of the Students’ Union and a member of DSM, Hassan Taiwo Soweto, the National Coordinator of Education Rights Campaign (ERC) and some student activists.

Prior to the day of the symposium, a seminar was organised at the Students Union Building (SUB) which served to educate members and supporters on what the DSM stands for. The DSM branch equally organised an awareness programme, in which about 1,000 leaflets were distributed within and outside the campus to publicise the event. Some rank and file lecturers were equally invited through official letters.

The symposium started by 1:00pm, with introduction by Comrade Agbebire Marcellus Chinedu; the coordinator of DSM Akungba branch on what DSM stands for.

In his lead speech, Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto analysed the problems confronting Nigeria education, the socialist perspective on the topic and solutions to the problems. He called for a mass struggle against fee hike and for adequate funding of education. He stressed that education can be totally free for the masses if Nigeria’s resources are collectively owned and democratically managed. This however will require doing away with capitalism and putting in place a workers and poor people’s government that can implement socialist programmes.

Essentially, a workers and poor people’s government will take Nigeria’s wealth away from the capitalist looters through nationalisation under democratic workers control and management, and begin to use this to invest in the funding of a free and functional education sector alongside investment in other key sectors like health, infrastructures and giving a decent live to the mass majority.

Participants at DSM Akungba symposium - photo DSM

Participants at DSM Akungba symposium – photo DSM

This is why the building of an alternative political party is necessary now to begin the struggle to take political power from the capitalist looters. As was made crystal clear in January general strike and protest against fuel subsidy removal, vast majority of Nigerians do not have hope in any of the major capitalist parties ruling presently. Many working class and poor people will immediately embrace a political party that offers clear pro-poor policies as alternative to the current capitalist neo-liberal agenda. Unfortunately the Labour Party (LP) formed by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which incidentally is the governing party in Ondo State is not being built in this direction. Instead the party has become the second-eleven of the big capitalist parties like the PDP and ACN.

A party that stands for the workers, youths and poor is urgently needed now. The DSM is calling on the trade unions to form a new mass workers party which will not be abandoned to capitalist looters and thieves, as was the case with the LP, but would be built among rank and file workers, youths and ordinary people as an alternative to the pro-rich parties of privatisation, commercialisation and deregulation. As a step towards this, the DSM is striving to register with the INEC such a political party called the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) in order to serve as a rallying platform for workers, youths and poor people who desire a revolutionary change in the way the country is being governed.

Comrade Soweto’s speech provoked contributions, questions and comments from other invited guest speakers and the audience most especially representatives of other student left groups. The area that attracted much questions, reactions and contributions was the idea of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN). While many embraced the idea, a good proportion was not sure if a revolutionary party could win. There were questions about how possible it is to fund such a party.

All this is a reflection of the general idea that politics is heavily monetised and as such a sincere party committed to defending the masses could not win. The scepticism also reflects the political inexperience of the young generation who may not have remembered the period of the National Conscience Party (NCP) before and in the 2003 generalelections.

In his reactions to the questions Comrade Soweto reiterated the imperative of a political alternative for the working people and cited the success of the NCP in 2003 when Lanre Arogundade (a DSM member) contested on the basis of socialist program for Lagos State Senatorial West and got over 77, 000 votes despite massive vote rigging, manipulations, violence and large scale bribery of voters by the Alliance for Democracy (AD) – which later transformed to the ACN today. This shows that where a clear alternative is provided, it is possible to rally working class and poor people under a programme of change.

He argued that total tuition free education appeared impossible due to the capitalist government we have presently, that if the right government is put in place by the masses, free and quality education will not be difficult to provide. This is why students who fight against attacks on public education also must be interested and be ready to participate in the debates and struggles to defeat capitalism.