Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

DSM Lagos Aggregate Meeting: Arguing for a Socialist Alternative

DSM Lagos Aggregate Meeting: Arguing for a Socialist Alternative

By Ayo Ademiluyi
Dagga Tolar , photo by DSM

Dagga Tolar , photo by DSM

On Saturday February 1st, 2014, members of the Lagos state branch of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) held the first meeting of the year to renew discussions on the correct perspectives for emerging issues in the country. The two topics for discussion were Nigeria’s Crisis: What is the Alternative? and Anti-gay law: an attack on democratic rights.

The lead-off on the two topics was given by Dagga Tolar, who opened the discussion with the charade called the National Conference. He argued that the National Conference is a desperate tactic by Jonathan government to divert the attention of working masses from the monumental failure of the government especially the unmitigated socio-economic crises. He argued that socialists must place the call on the leadership of the two major labour centres, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), not to participate in this so-called ‘National Confab’, but rather lead a working mass resistance against anti-poor policies and to end the rule of the capitalist ruling elite.

He also highlighted the farce of the 2014 budget, which is full of ridiculous and anti-poor propositions. Government for instance boasts daily of a high growth rate of the economy. Yet when compared with the statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics which reveals that over 30 million Nigerians are unemployed it confirms the absurdity of the capitalist system.

Yet, the barrage of neo-liberal capitalist attacks continue unabated with the latest being electricity privatization which is already enmeshed in crisis, resulting in a 300 percent increase in electricity tariff and a further decline in power supply. This has seen resistance struggles breaking out in communities against power privatization, creating opportunities for socialists to intervene in the struggles.

The growing mood for mass resistance is also displayed in the wave of education workers’ struggles with the academic staff unions in the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education still on strike action. He substantiated the claims of the rot in the education sector with recent statistics by UNESCO in its 11th Education-for-All Global Monitoring Report, which reveals that Nigeria has 10.5 million out-of-school children and 40 million illiterates. He maintained that the protest by the students of Lagos State University against high fees is an opener in the new year of looming mass struggles by young people and workers against attacks.

Dagga Tolar raised the need to link the struggles to the task of building an independent working peoples political alternative, which the failure of the Labour Party to represent workers makes all the more urgent. He reported the efforts taken so far towards registering the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) with a letter forwarded to INEC to furnish the SPN with the list of documents required to file its application for registration.

Hassan Taiwo Soweto , photo by DSM

Hassan Taiwo Soweto , photo by DSM

Hassan Taiwo Soweto, in an intervention on the anti-gay law, illustrated the tragic outcome of the bizarre legislation with the recent Bauchi anti-gay violence in which a Magistrate Court was attacked on the basis of the fact that it declined to sentence a suspect charged with homosexuality for want of evidence. He underlined the aim of the capitalist ruling elite in promulgating the law, which is to divide the mass of working people along cultural and religious lines. He submitted on the need for socialists to lead resistance against the anti-gay law as part of defence of democratic rights.

Ayo Ademiluyi, in his comment on the lead-off, concurred that the National Conference is a sham and the anti-gay law is an attempt by the Jonathan regime to win mass political sympathy in the run-up to the 2015 general elections. He also underlined the need to intervene in the anti-power privatization community struggles such as the one breaking out at Akinola-Aboru in Iyana Ipaja Area, where the CDWR is intervening. Eko John Nicholas, who attended the meeting from Ijebu-Ode in Ogun state, equally condemned the anti-gay law and raised the need to link the opposition to any attempt to prohibit abortion through law.

Members and visitors to Lagos state branch of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

Members and visitors to Lagos state branch of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

Segun Sango, the DSM General Secretary, commented also that the National Confab which was a sideshow. He urged all comrades to read the statement on the subject which is already on the website. He argued that the proposal from some quarters that a referendum be conducted after the Conference is a mere shadow-chasing as the National Confab is based on political reconfiguration for the 2015 general elections. He submitted that the urgent task is to crystallize forces for mass resistance against privatization and mass unemployment while building a mass working peoples alternative. He gave update on building of SPN and efforts at getting it officially registered. He raised the need for socialists to defend the right of two adults to consensual sex, which the anti-gay law seeks to erode.

Moshood Osunferewa in his comment raised the fact that mass youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb and the need to build mass resistance in that direction. He also underlined the growing anger in the communities against neo-liberal capitalist policies of government citing the situation in Amukoko community in Lagos, where residents are being charged by the local council to pay N25, 000 per each compound for the repair of a damaged water pipe.

Pelad submitted that human and democratic rights cannot be discarded as Western concepts but taken as inalienable rights of an individual. He argued equally that Marxists must defend individual rights on the basis that they are not opposed to the collective rights and interests of the society, in other words, socialists cannot support robbery as a right. But this is not the same as anti-same sex marriage legislation which is aimed at criminalising a harmless human relationship. He submitted that the prevailing support for the anti-gay law is a reflection of the stage of the mass consciousness and requires patient explanation by socialists.

Ewebiyi Keye commented on the crisis in the Lagos State University, with the latest round of protests that broke out over the sudden closure of its internet portal and the astronomical level of the tuition fees. He expressed the rising level of mass anger against the exorbitant fees being paid in the university, which is being expressed through the social media. He informed the meeting of the efforts of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) to provide the needed leadership and direction for the mass resistance against the fee hike.

Segun Sango, the DSM General Secretary, in another intervention, characterised the APC as an empty and false alternative to the PDP. He underlined the fact that more change-seeking and left forces are drawing the conclusions already laid by the DSM to crystallize a genuine political alternative and this need to be urgently taken forward.

Chinedu Bosah, who chaired the meeting, raised the need to produce an anti-electricity privatization campaign pamphlet that can be taken to the communities, where struggles are already breaking out over the failure of power privatization.

He declared the meeting closed with a reminder to comrades in the local branches across Lagos to step up the sale of the new DSM publication and increase intervention at workplaces and communities, where struggles are rapidly breaking out. A sum of N4,000 was collected as fighting fund and 5 copies of the new DSM book were sold. The meeting was rounded off on the note of renewing the efforts to build SPN and a broader and strong mass working peoples’ political alternative and as well as mass resistance against all forms of capitalist attacks.