Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM





The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) welcomes the decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to finally listen to the cry of its members and the mass of long-suffering Nigerian people who have been subjected to more untold hardship since May 29, 2023 when the President Tinubu capitalist administration assumed power and began to unleash brutal neoliberal attacks on the working people. We also call on the NLC to reach out to the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) for the joint prosecution of the action called to begin on August 2.

On Wednesday 26 July 2023, the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) “after exhaustively deliberating on the crippling economic situation facing Nigerians and its attendant consequences of mass suffering, poverty and angst pervading Nigerian workers and peoples which are clear resultants of the insensitive policies and actions of the present Administration” to give the federal government a seven-day ultimatum within which to meet their demands failing which the congress will “embark on a nationwide action beginning Wednesday the 2nd of August, 2023 to compel the government to reverse its anti-poor and anti-workers policies”. The Congress also resolved to “consequently direct all Affiliates and State Councils to begin immediate mobilization and closely work with associations, individuals and other entities including the ones already on the streets to ensure that government listens to the people”.

We consider this decision as dangerously too late in the day. Workers and their families have suffered atrociously over the past two months as the President Tinubu administration continued to unleash ever more frightening neoliberal and anti-poor policies. But as they say, better late than never. We hereby welcome this new decision to begin a fight back but warn labour leadership against stabbing workers and the masses in the back again. In particular, we warn against suspending the planned action before it even takes off or before it wins any concrete victory. Labour should not give in to government blackmail or threats to use court injunction to stop it! Labour should be guided by the idea that it is far better to break unjust bourgeois laws than allow the oppressors to break the poor.

In the final analysis, it is the balance of forces that will determine how far the regime can go in using the security apparatus, court and law to stop the action. This is why we call for immediate steps right now to begin to mobilize across the country by conveying meetings between each State Councils of the NLC and civil society, students, youth, Socialists and pro-masses’ organisations to jointly plan how to organize the actions. Leaflets and posters should be circulated everywhere and public rallies and meetings called to explain the struggle to all layers of the workers and oppressed masses at workplaces, the grassroots and communities. We also encourage activists to begin to set up democratically-constituted action committees at workplaces, communities and campuses to drive mobilization and planned for the actions starting August 2nd.

To be brutally honest, the leadership of the NLC and that of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are to be blamed for allowing the mass of workers and poor masses to be subjected to the intensification of brutal neoliberal attacks and the attendant mass suffering and poverty which have been the lot of the masses over the past two months now. By failing to go ahead with the general strike declared in June in response to President Tinubu’s inauguration day petrol subsidy removal, the labour leadership missed an important opportunity to immediately answer the regime’s attacks with a bold resolve of the working class. That missed opportunity and the consequential acceptance by labour to enter into negotiation with the Federal Government for palliatives to purportedly cushion the effect of the fuel price increase, effectively abandoning a principled opposition to subsidy removal, is what has further emboldened the regime to go ahead with further attacks including devaluation of the naira and increase in fees across public tertiary institutions.

In a previous statement, we in the DSM had described the negotiations as “an unending circus of mendacious tomfoolery”, in other words, a negotiation without destination. Unfortunately, we have now been proved right. The CWC-in-session noted “that the federal government has frustrated and abandoned its own Committee which was a product of social dialogue between the government and workers organizations in the country. While the Committee has not met, the government embarked on unilateral actions and programmes”. The question however is what were labour’s representatives doing for this long in the committees when it was clear all along the federal government was not negotiating in good faith?

The reality is that the labour leaders have once again been taken for a ride by the capitalist ruling elite who set up a negotiating process whose outcome they never planned to respect. The negotiation was meant to keep labour busy while they continue to impose their neoliberal policies without a challenge! Like sheep being led to the slaughter slab, the leadership of the NLC and TUC entered this trap with their eyes opened!

But this fooling of labour was only possible because the leadership abandoned a principled pro-worker approach and instead capitulated ideologically to the capitalist market by embracing the illusion that a pro-capitalist policy like fuel subsidy removal and deregulation of the oil and gas sector can ever be to workers benefit if “properly managed”. This is the root of the crisis facing the workers movement today. There is a need for the workers movement to abandon all illusions in capitalism and to formulate a bold alternative to all neo-liberal, anti-worker and anti-poor capitalist economic policies being put forward by the government.

As experience of working masses themselves amply demonstrates, no real or long-lasting relief can be won for the working people under capitalism. This is why for struggle to win real victory, labour needs to adopt clear and bold pro-working people philosophy and programme that synchronises with the genuine aspirations of the working people and the objective basis of their existence and struggle. This in our view is no other than a scientific Socialist programme which links demands on the day to day issues facing the working people with a programme for the nationalization of the key sectors of the Nigerian economy under workers democratic control and management in order to ensure that society’s wealth trapped in the hands of a few are made available to make life better for the mass majority.

We in the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) calls on the NLC and TUC as well as activists and all pro-masses organisations to consider discussing the following programme within their ranks with a view to adopting them as cardinal demands for the coming fightback starting from August 2nd, 2023:

  • Reversal of pump price of fuel to N195 per litre.
  • Arrest and speedy trial of all subsidy thieves and seizure of their ill-gotten wealth
  • N200, 000 national minimum wage to be regularly increased in accordance to the rate of inflation
  • Reduction in the salaries of political office holders and their placement on the minimum wage.
  • Cancelation of security vote and reduction of the Presidential fleet
  • Immediate crash programme to repair old refineries and build new ones
  • Petrol from Dangote refinery, when it starts operating, to conform to a price cap of N195 per litre otherwise it should be nationalized under workers control and management.
  • Reversal of all hiked school fees. No to student loan. For adequate funding of public education
  • Immediate meeting of the demands of academic staff, non-academic staff, doctors and all medical personnel.
  • Release of all political prisoners including #ENDSARS protesters and end to attacks on democratic rights.
  • Nationalization of the oil and gas sector, banks, big industries and mines under workers control and management
  • A workers and poor people’s government armed with Socialist programme.

Peluola Adewale

Organising Secretary

For the DSM