Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM


Preparing for intervention in tumultuous class struggles and continued building of the DSM as a revolutionary organization

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Nigerian section of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), held a National Committee meeting on Saturday, 12th of December and Sunday, 13th of December. This NC meeting is not just the first NC meeting this year due to the Covid-19 lockdown, it is also the first after the split experienced in the organization after a year of debate on issues of ideological differences over continued building of the DSM as a Trotskyist revolutionary organization without any conciliation to political opportunism. This led to a minority leaving the organization on opportunistic basis.

The meeting was attended by 47 comrades physically and 16 comrades joined via the zoom platform on the first day. On the second day, 37 comrades attended physically while 12 joined on zoom. These comrades are delegates/members of DSM from different branches across the nation. Between the two days at least 65 comrades, including workers contacts from two factories, attended the meeting.

A section of the NC meeting in Lagos

On Friday, 11th of December, the eve of the NC, 14 comrades participated at the student and youth wing meeting of the DSM. The theme of the first session of the meeting was ‘’From EndSARS to EndASUU strike: how relevant are socialist ideas and method for struggles of young people against police brutality better public education and decent future?’’.

The leadoff and sum-up were presented by Comrade Michael Lenin. The leadoff x-rayed the crisis in the education sector which is reflected by the over nine months’ strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the unwillingness of the government to meet its demands. The decaying state of infrastructures and the collapse of basic education were noted in the leadoff. It was stressed that a campaign for proper funding of the education sector and the democratic management of institutions is needed.

The #EndSARS struggle of young Nigerians against police brutality, which snowballed into a struggle to end bad governance and an end to the APC/Buhari administration, was equally discussed. It was noted that even though struggle can win concessions, all the desires of youth and working class and poor Nigerians in general for jobs, education and a better society cannot be fully achieved within the framework of capitalism. Hence, it will require a socialist transformation of the society. Nevertheless, socialists must intervene in the day to day struggle against crisis in the society and use it as an opportunity to explain why a system change is needed and also use it to expose the incapability of the capitalist system to move society further. Those who contributed agreed with the points raised in the leadoff and stressed the need to build the ERC and YRC as a formidable platform. The second session elaborately discussed how to build the ERC and YRC, the leadoff was given by Comrade Temiloluwa Ajetunmobi while the summing-up was done by Comrade Isaac.

H.T Soweto opening the discussion on Nigeria

The first day of the NC was a day of intense but inspiring discussion. The leadoff on Nigerian perspective was done by H.T Soweto while Lanre Arogundade summed the discussion up. The discussion centered on the government’s mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic, the impoverishment of the masses due to the lockdown, the hike in electricity tariff and increase of fuel price and the betrayal of the bureaucratic labour leaders of a planned general strike in September, the EndSars protest which gripped the nation for 13 days and the repression unleashed on the protest which further eroded the support base of the Buhari administration, the present economic recession, insecurity and the ethno-religious crisis, the possibility of a military coup, the need to build a campaign for a fighting and democratic trade unionism, the imperative of a mass working people alternative on a socialist program, and the struggle for a socialist Nigeria.

The Covid-19 pandemic met a nation with a health sector already in ruins, in fact, health workers had to call off their strike to ensure Nigerians do not fall into the abyss of death. Despite this, the government showed no interest in taking any step to improve the condition of the health sector – something which led to renewed threat of strike and actual strikes of health workers in a number of places during the pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic did not blur class antagonism, it made it clearer. While the period of lockdown sent many families into starvation and collapsed many small businesses, members of the ruling class continued their opulent lifestyle and raking in profits and loots. Members of the ruling class had access to Covid-19 testing than the working masses. Also, many of them received treatment at expensive private hospital when it was very obvious that the public hospitals, due to years of neglect, cannot provide any helpful health assistance. The working masses were largely left to their fate.

The discussion also noted the increase in price of fuel and hike in electricity tariff and the treacherous betrayal of the labour leadership. Not only did the labour leadership abort a planned general strike on the eve of the commencement on the strike, it also signed a document endorsing deregulation and privatization of the oil sector. The plan of the DSM to campaign for a left-bloc within the labour movement to lead a struggle for a fighting and democratic trade unionism was discussed. There was a general agreement with the need to work with radical trade unionists who unlike the most of the current bureaucratic labour leaders are interested in struggle.

The EndSARS struggle was also discussed. The struggle gripped the nation for 13 days until it was drenched in blood by the ruling class. It eroded the little that is left of the support base of the Buhari administration. The movement which started as a youth revolt over incessant killings, harassment and extortion by the police, especially by men of the now defunct Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), developed into a movement demanding an end to bad governance including some reforms in the society. The shooting of protesters at the Lekki tollgate on October 20 represents a desperate attempt by the ruling class to stop the movement; and it unfortunately did stop it. However, that will not be an end to such movements, greater ones will arise, this is because all the demands of the youth for a better society and end to police brutality cannot be achieved within the framework of capitalism. Despite the current repressive atmosphere, the intensification of capitalist attacks and attendant tougher conditions would push the youth and working people back to the arena of struggle in the coming period. One issue around which mass struggle may break out is electricity as ordinary people are made to pay exorbitantly high tariff for service not enjoyed.

Lanre Arogundade summing up the discussion on Nigeria

The security crisis, especially in the northern part of the nation, was also discussed, the years of Boko Haram and other security situation such as the rise in kidnapping and banditry, herdsmen –farmers clash have all shown that capitalism cannot resolve all of these crises.

Read here the Nigerian perspective document discussed and adopted as the resolution of the NC

The second session of the first day of the National Committee meeting was enlightening. The leadoff was given by Abbey Trotsky on the world situation. The Covid-19 crisis which the world is yet to recover from was discussed. The world is presently battling with a pandemic and a global economic recession. Statistics from around the world show negative economic condition for the countries. With the second wave of the Covid-19 in sight, many countries already imposed a lockdown. This will have further devastating effect on the working people who have already been further impoverished by the first lockdown and the inability of the world capitalist class to address the problems caused by the lockdown. The U.S election which saw the defeat of Trump and the Republican Party was discussed. Emphasis was made on the lack of a mass workers’ party which has caused a vacuum and how disappointment with Biden can create conditions for such a party to start to develop. At the same time, even though Trump was defeated, Trumpism is likely to remain a force to reckon with over the next period. Also discussed were the lessons of the developing crisis in the British Labour Party as a result of the new, rightwing, Starmer leadership and the weakening of left forces in that party.

Despite the imposition of Lockdown, mass movement of the people still happened in many countries. The Black Lives Matter protest which erupted in U.S over the killing of George Floyd and spread to many countries is an example. The movement against the dictatorial regime headed by Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus is another example of mass movement seen in this period. It was agreed that 2021 would be a year of political turmoil and mass movement which could threaten many regimes. The contradictions of capitalism, on the basis of the economic recession and the inherent inability of the system to resolve the crisis, will be heightened. Preparation to play a decisive role in these struggles is important. The inability of capitalism to resolve national questions as reflected in the current crisis in Ethiopia was put into perspective as well as other developments in Africa.

For more details on the world situation and perspective, read here the article from the CWI titled: “2020 – A turning point: An explosive and uncertain decade has begun”

On the second and final day of the NC was devoted for discussion on building of the DSM and its campaign platforms – CDWR, ERC and YRC; intervention in struggle and plight of workers at different workplaces; reports of organization activities at the branch levels and nationally, and the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) struggle against deregistration and its prospects as a basis for a mass working peoples’ party.

Arrangements were made for comrades outside Lagos to participate in the NC via video conferencing

To aid the work of the organization, a fighting fund of N1million was launched out of which N579,900 was realized in pledges and cash financial donations. To meet the target comrades who were not at the NC and supporters will be approached. However, it is instructive that we were able to surpass 50 percent mark of the target. This underscores the determination and commitment of comrades to continue the building of the DSM for interventions in class struggles and the tumultuous events that impend.

By Michael Lenin