TRIBUTE TO SOWORE @ 50
Only a social revolution that puts working class and the poor masses in power armed with Socialist programmes can liberate Nigeria
(DSM leaflet circulated today, Saturday March 6, 2021, at “A political Symposium of the masses” with the theme: Sowore@50: Towards the liberation struggle)
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) is glad to be invited to a political programme meant to celebrate the 50th birthday of Omoyele Sowore. We join other activists and well-meaning people to wish the celebrant a happy birthday and more years in the struggle for a better Nigeria.
It is not a surprise that a political event with the theme “Sowore@50: Towards a liberation struggle” is being organised to celebrate Sowore and solidarise with him in the face of persecution. Aside from his professional activities as a journalist, Omoyele Sowore has no doubt played important roles in democratic and social struggles in Nigeria over the past three decades starting from his days as a student activist and later the President of the University of Lagos Students Union (ULSU). Even now, Sowore (and Revolution Now movement) remains a force to be reckoned with in the struggle of the masses in Nigeria. Therefore the celebration of Sowore’s life is no doubt an opportunity to discuss with a view to examine the crises of Nigeria and what needs to be done by the youth and working people to liberate it. Especially given the current insecurity and ethno-religious tension, this symposium could not have come at a more opportune time.
What kind of revolution do we need? There can be no disagreement with the fact that a revolution is urgently needed now. In fact, if a referendum is conducted today over whether or not the current set of capitalist rulers of the APC and PDP political parties should remain in power, tens of millions will vote for an immediate end to their rule. The question however is what kind of revolution do we need and how do we build towards it? The tragically often repeated history of revolutions overthrowing regimes, but then being defeated by counter-revolution shows how important this question is.
Historically, how this question is answered has always produced series of differences and disagreements among revolutionary groups which ordinarily to the politically inexperienced are fighting for the same ends. In our case in Nigeria, no one can deny the fact that some differences equally exist on these subject matter and it is in the spirit of engaging in fruitful and positive debate that we have decided to bring it up on this occasion.
In the opinion of the DSM, only a social revolution led by the working class and that leads to the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by socialism can set Nigeria on the path of genuine redemption either economically or politically. In other words, we do not think that the replacement of the rotten capitalist government of the APC and PDP by another one even if represented by more youthful and energetic capitalist reformers is enough. Only a thoroughgoing overturn of the existing status quo through the transfer of political and economic power from the tiny capitalist class to the working class and poor which represents the majority of the populace can genuinely salvage Nigeria. This would require putting the key sectors of Nigeria’s economy (e.g. Big industries like oil and gas, aviation and telecom, power sector, banks and financial institutions, the big mines and farms, etc.) under public ownership and the democratic control and management of the working people in order to ensure that Nigeria’s wealth is utilised for the benefit of all instead of the profit of a few as we have now.
Why the Working Class?
Any activist who is conversant with the serial treachery of the leadership of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) is likely to scoff at the idea of the working class leading a revolution. This would be a legitimate reaction. Labour’s recent betrayal of the September 28, 2020 general strike against fuel price hike and its capitulation to the policy of deregulation is part of the reason another round of fuel price hike is now on the way. However, Marxists often take care not to conflate the bureaucratic, rotten and spineless leadership of the labour movement with the workers themselves. Unlike the leadership most of whom have sold out, Nigerian workers are ready to struggle. This they have shown in the fact that between 2003 and 2012, Nigerian workers embarked on nothing less than 11 general strikes and mass protests, some of which posed the question of who runs society as the government was suspended in the air while the strikes lasted.
The grave diggers of Capitalism
Karl Marx, the 19th century philosopher and revolutionary from whom the ideas of Scientific Socialism derived its name, described the working class as “grave diggers of capitalism”. This is because due to its role in the capitalist mode of production, the working class is the only class capable of smashing capitalism and building a new socialist society.
But to achieve a successful socialist revolution, the working class has to win the leadership of other oppressed classes. These include layers of the middle class like the youth, students, professionals and also the large mass of the impoverished peasantry. The working class is also the most socially cohesive class and can act collectively. This fact is very crucial in a neo-colonial country like Nigeria which is ravaged by ethnic and religious divisions. A revolutionary uprising without the role of the working class can risk a violent disintegration of the country because of the divisions. Only the working class can cut across these divisions when it rises on its feet as we have seen with the way general strikes when they are seriously mobilised for are often popularly supported by workers and the masses across the country regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliations.
From the foregoing, it becomes clear that revolution is not just the action of a determined few even though a vanguard who can argue for a clear strategy is important. Revolution is the action of a class – the urban working class leading the masses and the peasantry. Our task as the vanguard is not to dismiss the working class because of the treachery of its leadership but to be part of a working class fight to rescue the labour movement from confusion and the corrupt and treacherous leadership. Alongside this is also the need to form and build a mass workers’ party armed with socialist programmes. These for us are the most urgent steps that genuine revolutionaries must begin to take right now to prepare for the Nigerian revolution that would be an example to workers, youth and the oppresses in Africa and beyond.
CONTACT US FOR MORE DISCUSSIONS
If you would like to discuss further any of the issues we have raised or you wish to learn more about the ideas of Marxism and Scientific Socialism, please contact the DSM via e-mail: [email protected], Twitter: @DsmCwi_NG, website: https://www.socialistnigeria.org