RELEASE OMOYELE SOWORE AND ALL DETAINED ACTIVISTS AND JOURNALISTS
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) hereby demand immediate and unconditional release of the Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) and Sahara Reporters Publisher, Omoyele Sowore. We also demand the release of all activists and journalists and a halt to all attacks on democratic rights.
In the same vein, we demand an end to the prosecution and persecution of Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye, the Acting National Chairperson of the SPN who has been charged to the Magistrate Court, Iyaganku, Ibadan, and the Industrial court by the Police and the management of Sumal Food Company – an Ibadan based company which engages in slave labour and casualization – in collusion with the bureaucratic leadership of the food union. Comrade Abiodun’s crime is that he intervened in October last year in a strike of casual workers of the company, assisted them in their struggle and helped them to win important concessions on pay, break time and working conditions.
Sowore’s call for #RevolutionNow and the courage of the protesters on August 5 despite heavy police repression reflects the burning anger in society among workers, youth and the poor masses. The rising cases of suicide of young people, including teenagers and university students, is an indication of the enormous frustration. The youth constitute about 65% of the population, yet capitalism has no plan for them be it in terms of public education, healthcare or jobs. Consequently, most young people especially as soon as they graduate from school find themselves stranded in life with an uncertain future.
To be clear, we agree with Sowore and the AAC that the terrible socio-economic crises, the deepening mass poverty and unemployment and the worsening condition of insecurity in Nigeria today have grown to such a monstrous level that a bold call for mass action to put an end to both the increasingly repressive and failing Buhari/APC regime and the capitalist system is now urgently needed. Infact there is no doubt that a bold call for struggle can be answered by thousands and tens of thousands. Such a movement would not be, as the government complains, “undemocratic”, in fact it is the so-called “general elections” which were undemocratic with massive rigging, vote buying and with officially just under 35% of the registered voters turning out. Thus Buhari himself was “re-elected” on the votes of less than 20% of those registered.
Our argument however is that a successful, genuine revolution does not occur in a day. It is the culmination of mass actions of the working masses which ends in a conquest of political power and it requires organisation, mobilisation and a programme. Also, in a capitalist society, only the working class that can lead the youth, small farmers, artisans and the rest of the oppressed masses to carry out a successful socialist revolution that leads to a fundamental transformation of Nigeria.
This is because of the special place the workers occupy in the capitalist system of production. Labour produce wealth. Without workers, the entire capitalist system of production and exploitation cannot function. That is why when workers embark on a strike for just one day, the entire economy is always shut down. It is only this class leading other oppressed layers behind it that can put an end to capitalism and begin to build a new socialist society. This is why Karl Marx called the working class the “grave diggers of capitalism”. The unfortunate situation we have found ourselves in Nigeria but also internationally is that today the working class is generally led by trade union and political leaders who do not want to struggle or have no revolutionary perspective of how to end the rotten capitalist system.
Therefore, while launching bold actions where possible on issues of electricity, unemployment, hike in fees etc. like we have started on August 5, an important task for activists which should be given equal attention is how to galvanise the working class to be able to place its historical role as the “grave diggers of capitalism”. This will require a programme to rouse and organize the rank and file workers in the labour movement to compel their leadership to act and when they don’t, be prepared to replace them with those who can. Unless the working class rises and place itself at the head of the mass movement, there can be no possibility of a successful revolutionary transformation of Nigeria along socialist lines.
A CALL ON LABOUR TO ACT
It is on this basis that the SPN while urging activists of the Coalition of Revolution (CORE) not to relent in the effort to continue to build the movement which has commenced on August 5 to challenge all anti-poor policies again restates its call for a one-day warning general strike and nationwide mass protest to be declared by the labour movement. This kind of general strike should be utilised to mobilise the workers, youth and oppressed layers around demands that can unite all layers of the working class, youth and oppressed masses. These demands should include: (1) Release of Sowore and other activists, (2) Implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage for public and private sector workers, (3) End to casualization; For decent employment for all with trade union rights, (4) end to power privatisation and all anti-poor policies, (5) End to fee hike, commercialisation and improved funding of education etc.
To ensure effective mobilisation for the general strike and mass protest, democratically elected action committees have to be formed at workplaces, campuses and communities to campaign to ensure the maximum participation and harness the energy of the workers and energetic youth who have been greatly inspired by the events in Sudan and other places and are desirous of effecting revolutionary change in Nigeria. Such democratically-elected action committees set up at grassroot levels can also help to ensure that the initiative of the strike resides in the hands of the rank and file workers and revolutionary youth in order to prevent hasty suspension of the strike by the labour bureaucracy before it has achieved its objectives which unfortunately have been the case in past struggles.
WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY DO WE WANT?
By socialism, we mean a Nigeria under which the key sectors of the economy (oil and gas, railway, electricity, banks, mines, agriculture etc.) are nationalized under the democratic control and management of the working people. Without the workers and poor masses taking control of the levers of the economy and society in their hands, there is no way Nigeria’s enormous wealth which are now concentrated in the hands of a handful of local and international capitalist hawks can be utilised on a planned basis to end poverty, unemployment and other social crises. However for this kind of society to come into being, the working class have to take political power, end the rule of the capitalist gangsters and begin to reorganise society along socialist lines.
Suffice to note that in building towards a revolution in Nigeria, we have to take into account all the lessons of the October 1917 Socialist Revolution in Russia, Arab spring and the recent development in Sudan. Sudan has shown again how revolutions can rapidly develop strength, smash through obstacles and win gains, but also why a genuinely revolutionary leadership is necessary. The recent agreement of leaders of the revolution to share power with the military for 39 months, allow a General to be in charge of the state for the next 21 months and let the military to choose both the ministers of defence and interior, shows how these leaders are giving the enemies of the Sudanese revolution the chance to regroup and strike back.
In summary, we applaud the CORE and the August 5 protesters for their efforts. At the same time, we urge for more discussions across all levels of the movement on these important points we have raised above. We in the SPN and DSM would be very much ready for any discussions or debate with a view to deepen political clarity and help arm the advance guard of workers and especially the youth with the ideas that can transform Nigeria and the world.
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