Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Support And Join The Campaign To Call On INEC To Register The SPN For The Socialist Transformation Of Nigeria

By H.T Soweto National Youth Leader, SPN

As things stand today, the 2015 elections will be dominated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC). Both political parties have been in power at various levels since 1999, but despite the incredible chances they have had over the last 15 years or so to turn Nigeria’s deplorable situation around, both political parties and their minions have instead continued to implement ruinous capitalist policies of privatization, deregulation and commercialization all of which have contributed to the growing income inequality and mass poverty in the midst of huge oil and mineral wealth. Neither of them have seriously sought to implement the new minimum wage that was signed into law before the last elections in 2011.

While the PDP government especially at the federal level is busy underfunding education and impoverishing Nigerians through other anti-poor and pro-capitalist policies like privatization and deregulation, the APC for all its radical speechifying is in the same way overpricing public education as the examples of the Lagos State University (LASU) and the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) show as well as implementation of other harsh socio-economic policies to favour the rich while alienating the poor.

The run-up to the 2015 elections is being over-shadowed by two developments, the government’s effective loss of much of the north-east to Boko Haram and the economic crisis that the rapidly falling price of oil threatens. Both can plunge Nigeria quickly into a deep crisis which neither of the main parties have any answer to.

While the sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP is generally, and for the right reasons too, detested as a non-performing president who has presided over one of the worst governments in the history of the country, the reality is that none of the opposition political parties offer any reasonable alternative. It is the complete absence of any real ideological or political differences between both parties that is responsible for the gale of cross-carpeting between the PDP and APC seen in recent times. In the 2011 elections, the same Jonathan that is popularly despised today was promoted as a saint but less than a year after his election, a roaring nationwide general strike and mass protest broke out in January 2012 against his government attempts to withdraw the so-called petrol subsidy and impose another regime of high fuel prices. As the popular saying goes, once beaten, twice shy. Anyone who decides to vote any of the existing ruling political parties and their candidates in the oncoming 2015 general elections will face exactly the same disappointment.

However in the midst of all these political maneuverings ahead of the 2015 general elections and given the ideological and political capitulation of the labour movement-midwifed Labour Party (LP) to the sides of capitalism, the members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), working class and youth activists came together on Saturday 16 November 2013 to launch a new political party that would stand in and out of elections for the interests of the working masses, youth and poor. The aim was to create a party that would contest in elections for the purpose of striving to help build a movement that could win political power out of the hands of the oppressive capitalist ruling class so that the working class and poor of this country can have the means to take control of their destinies and define for themselves a new future of equity and social justice. That party is called the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN).

While the DSM and its associates continue to call on Nigeria’s powerful labour movement to either reclaim the LP that was surrendered to anti-poor politicians and build it as a mass working class party or form a new working class alternative political party that can bring all oppressed Nigerians under one banner to strive to take political power, we see the formation and building of the SPN in the meantime as a striking example of working class political alternative and what is possible and achievable with socialist alternative. In other words, the SPN will demonstrate in practice what could be achieved if the labour movement, which is the historical organisation of the working class in Nigeria, and has shown its power and potential in several struggles, takes the decision to forge an independent working class political alternative. As Leon Trotsky, who together with V. I Lenin was a leader of the 1917 socialist revolution in Russia, said “where tradition is lacking, a striking example becomes imperative”.

Unfortunately, despite fulfilling all the onerous requirements, including the payment of a one million naira processing fee, for registration of political parties, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has refused to register it. On 12 August 2014, 2 months since 12 June 2014 after the SPN submitted its application, INEC wrote a letter to the party informing that it had “terminated” the registration of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN).

This was a blatant disregard for section 78 (3) of the Electoral Act as amended which stipulates that INEC must process an application of a political association seeking to transform into a political party within 30 days of the receipt of such application and inform such a political association with reasons while it could not register it. According to the Electoral Act as amended, given the failure by INEC to respond to an application within 30 days, a political association is deemed registered. A letter written by the SPN to INEC complaining about its flouting of this relevant section of the Electoral Act as amended and demanding that the electoral body issues a certificate of registration in compliance with the law was flagrantly disregarded by INEC.

The reason the INEC adduced for this completely irresponsible decision to terminate SPN’s registration process is not only ridiculous. It also clearly exposes the enduring conspiracy between INEC and the capitalist ruling elite to make it impossible for a political party that stands for the interests of the 99% to emerge knowing that a party like SPN that stands unabashedly for the ideas of socialism is a real threat to the continuation of the capitalist-induced paradox of mass poverty in the midst of plenty that has come to define Nigeria as a Nation.

In response to this monstrous illegality, the SPN has filed a case at the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging INEC’s decision. Our stand is that so far the few 1% rich of the country have numerous political parties representing their interests, the working class, youth and poor who are in the majority deserves a political party that can articulate their interests. There is no genuine democracy when the mass of the 99% are compelled by the fact of the absence of a party that speaks for them to cast their votes once every four years for parties that represents interests other than theirs. The resultant effect is the kind of anti-poor, anti-people and self-serving government we have continued to have for much of the over 50 years of Nigeria in post independence era.

In addition to the legal action already taken, we are also prepared to back our legal challenge with political movements to compel the INEC to grant our demands for the immediate registration of the SPN. To this end, pickets, petitioning, rallies, protests and demonstrations will be held at court sittings and at every communities, workplaces and schools until INEC recognizes the right of poor Nigerians to also have a political and electoral voice.

The SPN is a party like no other. It is a political party that abhors godfatherism and moneybags. Instead, each member of the party contributes a token to fund all party activities including campaigns. It was through these individual contributions as a result of a public fund-raising the party initiated, and not donation of moneybags, that we were able to raise the one million naira processing fee demanded by INEC. SPN is also a political party that abhors political representatives enriching themselves at the expense of the people they are meant to serve. To this extent, the SPN has a cardinal principle that every of the candidates that wins elections on its platform shall collect as salaries and emoluments nothing more than the average salary of a skilled worker while the rest of their salaries will be donated to the work of the party as well as to support the struggles of workers, students, youths and poor in the communities.

Above all, the SPN if elected into government, will end all capitalist policies of privatization, deregulation and commercialization, instead an SPN government shall bring the commanding heights of the economy under public ownership and democratic control. All dubious debts owed to capitalist finance institutions shall be repudiated and all imperialist strangleholds on the economy shall be dismantled in order to ensure a re-ordering of the economy to meet people’s needs unlike the present moment wherein our economy only works to increase the profit of a few local capitalists and multinational corporations. Under a socialist plan of the economy, an SPN government will launch a big public works program to rebuild public education, provide free and quality healthcare, build decent and affordable homes for all and ensure the provision of decent and minimum wage jobs for all.

If you are a change-seeking Nigerian, instead of voting either of the two evils of the PDP and APC, the best and most reasonable political initiative you can take to contribute to the change Nigeria dearly and urgently needs is to support and actively join the campaign to call on INEC to register the SPN and for labour movement to form and build a mass working peoples party. Any other decision will only prolong indefinitely the capitalist-induced sufferings of the mass majority in the midst of inexhaustible wealth.