THE RE-ARREST OF OMOYELE SOWORE AND OTHER CASES OF FLAGRANT SUPPRESSION OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS ARE CLEAR SIGNS THAT THE BUHARI/APC REGIME IS TRANSFORMING INTO A CIVILIAN DICTATORSHIP
* The silence and inaction of the leadership of the NLC, TUC and ULC is intolerable. The Labour movement cannot continue to fold it arms while the Buhari Government continue to suppress basic democratic rights.
* SPN calls for an urgent meeting of the NLC, TUC and ULC with civil society, professional groups and pro-working class organizations to discuss the building of a national campaign consisting of strikes, mass protests and boycotts to demand immediate and unconditional release of all politically-detained persons and a halt to further attacks on democratic rights.
(1) The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the re-arrest of Sahara Reporters publisher and Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare by gun-wielding men of the Department of State Service (DSS) in a court room and less than 24 hours after they were released consequent upon the order of the same court after already spending at least 124 days in unlawful detention.
(2) We hereby demand the immediate and unconditional release of Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare. We also demand release of Agba Jalingo and immediate halt to politically-motivated persecution of activists including the Acting National Chairperson of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye, as well as 38 workers of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), 5 unlawfully dismissed leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Lagos State University (LASU) chapter as well as scores of student activists suspended and expelled from Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of education for defending the rights to public education.
(3) The re-arrest of Sowore and Bakare which was executed in the manner of gangsters and in a court room whose judge had to scamper to safety shows what the Buhari/APC regime is fast becoming – a civilian capitalist dictatorship which when it becomes expedient does not even respect its own hallowed courts and so-called temple of injustice. The only way to defend democratic rights and defeat a growing dictatorship whether military or the civilian variant is through mass mobilisation of the working people and youth in mass struggle.
(4) It is to this extent that the SPN finds the continued silence, safe for a few weak press statements, of the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) completely embarrassing. The leadership of the organised labour cannot say they are unaware of the growing despotism of the Buhari regime and its flagrant assault on democratic rights.
(5) By their silence, the leadership of organised labour is giving the impression that they endorse the actions of the government. This nonchalant attitude of the labour leadership is all the more dangerous especially because these flagrant attacks on democratic rights we are witnessing now are simply warming up exercises on the part of the regime for a full-blown assault which would be directed against the labour movement itself especially when workers begin to fight for the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage and against other anti-poor and anti-worker policies.
(6) The SPN therefore challenge the leadership of the NLC, TUC and ULC to condemn the re-arrest of Sowore and others. But at this time, actions rather than words are needed. A one-day mass demonstration called by the labour movement could stop the regime in its tracks and, if it did not, could be the first step in a longer struggle. This would show the power of the organised working class which the leadership of the labour centres are keeping in check instead of unleashing in order to beat back the growing despotism and win demands on other issues on wages, working conditions, unemployment, growing poverty and other social issues confronting the working class and youth of the country.
(7) We therefore call for an urgent meeting of the NLC, TUC, ULC, civil society organizations, professional groups like the NBA, NUJ as well as pro-working class organizations like JAF, SPN, DSM and others to immediately map out a programme of action to begin to challenge the regime and fight for the unconditional release of Sowore, Bakare and all politically-detained persons. Apart from Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare, there are many others, including journalists, students and activists, who have been arrested or still being detained on trumped up charges since the advent of this administration. For instance, a student of Bayero University Kano (Kano) was recently arrested and detained in prison for writing a facebook post critical of a lawmaker. Another journalist, Agba Jalingo is still being detained for writing news articles critical of the Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade while, in Ibadan, Oyo State, Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye, the Acting National Chairperson of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) is still being persecuted by the Nigerian police and the Sumal Food Ltd for standing in defense of the rights of casual workers of the company who embarked on strike action to demand improved pay and working conditions. This is aside several students, University and Polytechnic workers who have been sacked, suspended or expelled for defending their rights, young Nigerians daily subjected to police brutality and several student and workers unions that have been banned by the regime and its lickspittles acting as Vice Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts.
(8) The implication of all these taken together is that all the minimal democratic rights to freedom of expression and association won since the return to civil rule in 1999 now stands at risk. This is why the labour movement cannot continue to stand arms akimbo. In its struggle for emancipation from the shackles of capitalism and imperialism, the working class has to defend the limited democratic rights won during past periods while striving to advance the movement towards a revolutionary transformation of society along socialist lines.
(9) Sowore was arrested for calling for revolution. As far as we are concerned in the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), revolution is not a crime but a duty and obligation in an inequitable capitalist society where a few are stupendously rich at the expense of the mass majority.
(10) The consistent and courageous campaign for Sowore’s release which has so far lasted over 100 days itself shows that no matter how hard it tries, so far it continues to implement anti-poor capitalist policies that increases the mass poverty of the majority while fattening the few rich, the Buhari government will no doubt be confronted by the mass of the working people when they eventually arise.
(11) Indeed such a movement if led by militant and class-conscious leaders can, following the examples of mass movements worldwide and given the mass anger in the country raging beneath the veneer of calm, overcome the bounds of limited economic demands which can be appeased by concessions and become a mass offensive for revolutionary change in the way society is run. The reason for this increasing repression is that the Buhari regime fears that disappointment with its rule and mounting misery will lead to mass movements in Nigeria similar to those we are seeing in Chile, Iraq, Lebanon, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
(12) Mass action is vital, but the programmes upon which this struggle unfolds will be vital in ensuring that this actually leads, not to a mere change of guards with one corrupt government replacing another, but to a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the enthronement of a workers and poor people’s government armed with Socialist policies. A factor in this process is the building of mass workers’ party with Socialist programmes which the SPN potentially represent at the moment.
(13) We therefore urge all those who wish to get organised to fight the growing despotism of the Buhari regime and its anti-poor capitalist policies to join the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) today.
Acting National Chairperson
E-mail: [email protected]