Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Protests against Hunger and Economic Hardship Held on June 12

This year’s June 12 anniversary was used by some left and pro-working people’s organizations to hold protest against mass hunger and anti-poor policies. In Lagos, the Joint Action Front (JAF) and Education Rights Campaign (ERC) worked with the Take it Back movement (TIB) and others to organize the mass action. Protests were also held in a few other states. Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) were on hand to join the action in Abuja and in Osun state, but the planning were not as thorough as in Lagos which reflected in the outcomes. In Oyo state, members of the DSM used the day to hold a public symposium through the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) as part of its ongoing campaign on the need to rebuild trade unions. At least 50 people, including trade union activists, attended this symposium.

Before the day, security agencies had created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in order to prevent the protest. Juwon Sanyaolu of TIB , one of the coordinators of the protest was arrested in Lagos around 10pm on Tuesday June 11 – the eve of the protest. Earlier on the day plain-cloth policemen were caught carrying out surveillance on the premises of the International Press Centre (IPC) where a press conference was held on June 6 to announce the June 12 nationwide action. Same day an attempt was also made by a female agent of the DSS to lure HT Soweto, a leading member of the DSM and co-coordinator of the protest, into an ambush. The venues of the protest in different parts of the country had been taken over by the police, army and other security agencies before the protesters arrived. In Ibadan, the police disrupted the protest and arrested two activists.

Attacks on democratic rights, including the free press and media, have been intensified recently by the Tinubu government. There have been a few instances where journalists and bloggers would simply disappear but security agencies especially DSS denied holding them for many days, only to own up later.

In Lagos just about 100 were on the street. But the protest enjoyed an enthusiastic support from the people who waved and chanted along with protesters as they passed by. Thousands of copies of a leaflet were circulated. Tens of placards with bold demands were also displayed.

Despite the intimidation by the state, it was significant that protesters came out to make a bold statement that working people and youth are not prepared to surrender their democratic rights to the emerging dictatorial government of Tinubu.

The June 12 protest especially in Lagos is also an indication that if the working people and youth are properly mobilized they are prepared to join a mass movement to resist the anti-poor capitalist policies of the Tinubu government. Indeed, one of the demands of the protest was a call on the organized Labour to declare 48-hour general strike and mass protest to reverse all anti-poor policies and win a decent national minimum wage.

Members of the DSM participated with banners and our paper – Socialist Democracy. About 20 copies of the paper were sold in Lagos.