Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

BIAFRA: Self-Determination is an Inalienable Right!

BIAFRA: Self-Determination is an Inalienable Right!

…….. But Capitalism Must Be Defeated

  • Free Nnamdi Kanu and all Incarcerated Activists!
  • For a Genuine and Democratic Referendum to Allow Igbo People Freely Decide Whether to Stay or Separate!!

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) strongly condemns the arrest, harassment, killings and outright human right violation which the Buhari government has been committing against pro-Biafra protesters over their calls and agitation for a Sovereign State of Biafra. We believe that these acts are setting a dangerous precedent for similar action against those who may oppose policies of the Buhari government. An example of this flagrant human right violation is the continuous detention since 14 October, 2015 of Nnamdi Kanu the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Radio Biafra – in violation of orders of a Magistrate Court and then a Federal High Court granting his release on bail. About 137 other pro-Biafra agitators are rotting in detention. This is aside the repeated cases of premeditated killings of protesters by police.

Despite always striving to build united struggles of all working people to transform all of Nigeria, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) believes that self-determination is an inalienable right. Therefore, if a people wish to secede; then so be it so far this is the wish of a majority of the people from that area. Unity cannot be enforced. Unity is only possible on the basis of social and economic justice and mutual respect for the rights of all nationalities and ethnic minorities. On this basis, we condemn the federal government for refusing to recognize the demand for self-determination and especially for attempting to crush pro-Biafra agitations and protests.

Our support for the right to self-determination notwithstanding, we are also quick to warn that secession on its own will not automatically lift the mass of the people out of the ocean of poverty and deprivation in which they are. In essence, we do not share the simplistic view that separation is an automatic solution to the sufferings of the mass of the Igbo people. Neither do we approve hate propaganda and similar divisive rhetoric which tries to paint ordinary working people of other ethnic groups as potential enemies of Igbo people. Rather we believe that all of the sufferings that Igbo working people and youth undergo and which is driving the present agitation are equally felt by the working masses and youth from different parts of the country. These sufferings are not caused by one ethnic group against the other. Actually they are caused by the inequitable capitalist system which enriches a few at the expense of the mass majority.

This perspective can be verified from the reality that despite the fact that members of the Northern ruling elite have occupied the position of president longer than any other ethnic group, yet this has not positively reflected on their own people. The North has one of the highest rates of poverty, destitution, polio and other preventable diseases, child and maternal mortality and out-of-school children in the country. Does it not negate common sense that the richest black man in the world, Aliko Dangote, is from the North – the region having the highest number of school-age children out of school in Nigeria? Similarly, ordinary Yoruba people did not benefit anything from the 8 years of Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency. The former president, Ebele Goodluck Jonathan, a Bayelsa man from the South-South ruled this country for six years and yet Otueke, his home town, does not have electricity, water and other critical infrastructure. Also, the fact that Nigeria has never had an Igbo president has not prevented many Igbo politicians and office holders from becoming sudden billionaires after enriching themselves from the positions they have had the opportunity of occupying. The 5 states in the South East have from inception been ruled by Igbo politicians, not Hausa, Igala or Yoruba politicians. Yet this fact has not led to any real improvement in the conditions of Igbo people.


The reason for all these is that all of these elements, despite their different ethnicity, ruled under the same system of capitalism which knows no tribe or ethnic group. All the system knows is class. And regardless of our ethnic and religious diversity, class division is the only real division in society. There is a real brutal class divide in Nigeria today: the ruling class of the rich and the working people, small farmers, traders and the poor. From evidence right from 1960 up till now, only the rich class have benefitted from Nigeria. The rest of us (whether we are Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa or Ijaw) have continued to wallow in poverty and misery while a few people become sudden billionaires by looting our common wealth. Therefore the real cause of inequality and suffering is capitalism and it is this system of wage slavery that the entire working and poor people across the country should unite to defeat.

However if Biafra were to secede, the Igbo working class, peasants and youth have to link the struggle for secession with a movement to end capitalism. Otherwise the situation would be a jump from the frying pan into fire. As long as capitalism remains the system of governance, the ocean of poverty in the midst of abundance ravaging the whole of Southeast and South-South will continue to exist even with the emergence of a Biafra nation.


The fact that anger over issues of poverty, unemployment and suffering is now channeled through ethnic and secessionist agitation is partly a result of the failure of the labour movement to rise effectively to the defense of the economic and political interests of the working people as well as provide a revolutionary way out of the crises of capitalism.

Despite the ethnic and religious division that pervades Nigeria, the labour movement has been the only real force uniting all the working and poor people across the country in joint struggle to fight against oppression and for improvement in living conditions. Without the struggles waged by the labour movement since 1999 against fuel price hike, anti-poor policies and on issues of minimum wage, perhaps the conditions of the working masses could have been worse than it is now. Perhaps more than ever, the labour movement now has a responsibility to act to prevent ethnic or sectarian attacks. This means that the labour movement must now pick up the gauntlet and build a common struggle uniting the working masses and youth across the country to fight on issues of poverty, poor living conditions, unemployment, minimum wage and to end capitalism. This will require that the labour movement builds a new mass workers party that can offer the vision of a democratic socialist alternative to capitalism.

Socialists believe that the artificial divisions in society can be overcome in common struggle for revolutionary change. During the January 2012 mass protests and general strikes against fuel subsidy removal, we all witnessed how Christians protected Muslims and Muslims protected Christians. It is not accidental that this happened because, at that time, the vast majority of Nigerians were united in a common battle against a threatened fuel price hike. Today, when the labour leaders are doing nothing more than blowing hot air, frustration and anger can be directed at false enemies, namely other ethnic or religious groups, instead of against the ruling class.


We believe that Nigeria cannot be held together by force, it will only be genuinely united if the working people and poor act together to improve their lot and to take control of the country out of the hands of the thieving elite. Such real unity could only be based upon respecting the rights of all nationalities, ethnic and religious groups while also breaking with capitalism. But, if labour is not able to lead such a struggle, divisions and break-ups can be posed and exploited by the rival groupings within Nigeria’s ruling class.

Now Socialists are calling for united action which is urgently required to fight for a living minimum wage and against the attacks which the developing economic crisis threatens. It is on this basis that a united challenge to capitalism has to be built, a challenge which includes on its banner a clear call for an end to all forms of national, religious or gender oppression.

Capitalism and the legacy of colonialism are the chief obstacles to a lasting unity of diverse ethnic groups and people. Once this is removed, it can be possible for a relationship based on genuine human solidarity, rather than competition and exploitation as we presently have, to emerge.

If the call for independence gains mass support and in the event of a separation, Socialists would argue for a democratic socialist republic of Biafra and a democratic socialist Nigeria both of which can often cooperate and unite under a confederation of socialist states to jointly plan how to utilize collective resources to improve the living standards of their people. Only a democratic Socialist republic of Biafra that guaranteed the full rights of all ethnicities in the new state and under which the commanding heights of the economy are put under public ownership, democratic control and management can begin to ensure that there is fundamental improvement in the socio-economic condition of the Igbo and other working masses and youth living in the area.


 Unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu, the 137 pro-Biafra agitators facing trial and all members of MASSOB, IPOB and BZM rotting away in jail.

 Mutual respect of the rights of all nationalities and ethnic minorities.

 For a democratic referendum to allow Igbo people freely decide whether to secede or not.

 A halt to repression of protests. No one deserves to die for simply asserting their right to self-determination.

 A full investigation to be carried out by a commission of inquiry composed of elected representatives of trade unions, independent observers and community organizations into the killing of 9 pro-Biafra protesters in Onitsha on 1st December 2015.

 No to hate propaganda. No to attacks on people from other ethnic groups. Direct all anger at the capitalist system. Capitalism is the cause of suffering, poverty and discrimination.

 For the labour movement to act to prevent ethnic clashes by stepping up struggle on issues of poverty, unemployment, poor living conditions and a living minimum wage.