Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By DSM Reporters

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) branch of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, recently held a series of political activities tagged “DSM Week 2015”. The DSM week, which is an annual event, started on Monday, 9th March with political gyration (singing, speech making and social interaction) and publicity and ended with a public symposium held on Wednesday, 11th March.

The symposium, which was the high point of the Week events, recorded a massive attendance estimated around 300 students.

Speakers who gave speeches at the symposium were members of the DSM and other notable activists. For almost five hours, their speeches, which revolved round perspectives on the 2015 general elections and crises in the student movement, held students spell-bound.

Prof. Sola Olorunyomi, Chairman of the national students’ relation committee of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and lecturer at the University of Ibadan, while giving the lead-speech, declared that none of the mainstream political parties can genuinely transform Nigeria after 2015 General Elections. “There is no alternative within the framework presented by the current ideological system”, he said. The problem with Nigeria, he continues, “is not the lack of imagination”, but it is capitalism – “a mono-cultural economy that serves the interest of global imperialism.” For him, while Jonathan has proved incapable, given his oppressive education policy for instance, Buhari is however not the alternative at all. The time has come, he charged the audience, to organize and determine the future of the country on a different ideological framework.

Joining the discussion, Prof. Idowu Awopetu, a former Branch Chairman of ASUU in OAU, gave a dissenting view to the opinion of Olorunyomi on the sameness of the APC and PDP. He explained that while capitalism is a huge problem facing society, election is at the same time important to determine a new lease of life for the people. In his view, the people should participate in the election and choose a better candidate.

We of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) strongly hold that there is no fundamental difference between the two major contenders, President Goodluck Jonathan of PDP and Muhammodu Buhari of APC, as both completely subscribe to the same anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist program. Besides, the frustration stemming from the consistent failure of the pro-capitalist parties over time to meet the yearning and aspiration of the working masses has reduced their interest in elections. It is only a sharp turn away from capitalism that can put an end to the absurd conditions of the masses, not alternating capitalist politicians.

The speech of Comrade Alfred Adegoke, the Osun State Chairperson, Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), clarified the position of the DSM and SPN on the 2015 General elections and other socialist progammes. He also informed the students that his generation was the last that enjoyed the cafeteria system in the 1980s, which was fully subsidized by the government. “It was Buhari/Idiagbon regime that withdrew it.” For Nigerians to look up to such person (Buhari) today for change emphasized the confusion capitalism has created. “Corruption is not the root of Nigeria’s problem as widely acclaimed”, rather “capitalism itself is synonymous to corruption”. He emphasized that the Nigerian ruling class is the curse on the masses. He informed the audience that the DSM is not interested in lamenting the problems. The DSM according to him has kick-started a process of working people political alternative with the formation of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and is currently fighting with legal and political means for its registration.

In the opinion of Comrade Alfred Adegoke, the thinking that change can come through the ballot papers containing capitalist parties is wistful. The masses can achieve revolutionary change through mass movements and revolutionary party. Socialists, according to him, advocate that the people should rise up and liberate themselves, and take the wealth and resources of society away from the few elites. Rather, it should be put under the democratic management of the working people. While concluding his speech, Comrade Alfred expressed his dissatisfaction over the silence of the Students’ Union on the victimization of six student activists, including four members of DSM, who have been placed under suspension by the university management since August 2014 for leading struggles for the restoration of the students’ union and against increment in school fees.

Other speakers took turn to address the gathering. Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto, the National Coordinator of the Education Rights Campaign, advised mass of students to seize opportunity of the forthcoming Students’ Union election to reclaim their students’ union. He called on mass of students to elect a fighting students’ union leadership that will promote and defend the democratic rights, welfare and interests of students like adequate funding of education and is ready to take up issues such as the reinstatement of politically victimized student activists.

During the symposium, participants and passers-by bought copies of Socialist Democracy (the paper of the DSM) and other socialist materials on display. Five students put their names down to join the DSM.

Two days earlier, DSM members of the branch had organized political gyration and Book Fair as part of the activities of the Week. On Monday, 9th March, comrades gathered at the Students’ Union Building to sing solidarity song and chant political slogans. The next day, Tuesday, 10th March, comrades also gathered at the same venue during the day to set up for book-fare. Students, university staff and passers-by were attracted to the displayed books and bought copies of socialist materials and papers. The venue of the Book Fair soon turned into an agitation ground where our members clarified positions of the DSM on social issues such as feminism and social revolution.

The DSM week was a significant event for the DSM branch of Obafemi Awolowo University, considering the several attempts of the university authorities over the years to stamp out the organization because of its radical ideas and positions. For several decades, the DSM-OAU has not only survived these numerous attacks, it has always come out of it all strengthened with new generation of comrades who continue to promote and defend the interests and rights of students as well as staffs and advocate for the socialist transformation of society This year’s DSM Week clearly left its impact on the consciousness of students. The Students’ Union election that was conducted after the Week reflected that mass of students were tilting towards the left ideas. Against an intense and widely publicized anti-left propaganda, students voted against all candidates who have connection with the immediate past union leadership. A left candidate supported by the DSM was elected as the new President of the Students’ Union.