Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM




Statement by the organisers, the United Action for Democracy (UAD) & Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

The alliance between Labour and the radical constituencies of the oppressed classes in our country which dates back to the pre and post independence struggle is a strategic collaboration in the context of the socialist transformation of our society. At no time was this alliance more pronounced than in the last six years where the partnership under the platform of the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) engaged the Obasanjo regime on the perennial hike in fuel prices in dictate to the neo-liberal economic policies.

The United Action for Democracy (UAD) and Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) are foremost blocks in the Joint Action Forum (JAF) – the civil society arm of that partnership. The two groups have consistently impressed it on the LASCO alliance on the need to engage the Obasanjo regime beyond the protests on fuel prices increase to demand on Nigerians for REGIME and SYSTEM change. This informed the adoption of a change of strategy by the alliance in the form of mass rallies in the battle against the regime in September 2005 when it increased fuel prices to N65 for a litre of petrol. The most significant lesson from the mass rallies which were then held in 10 major cities across the country was that Nigerians expressed their desire for a regime change.

The postmortem meeting that held on October 11, 2005 on the mass rallies merely acknowledged the gains of forcing the regime to its commitment not to increase fuel prices until probably December 2006 and also resolved to go back to the drawing board. But the UAD and DSM’s suggestion at the meeting for a political summit was underplayed as too hasty. The position of UAD and DSM has been on the imperativeness to formalise and build LASCO structures across the country and define for it an agenda beyond pressure group engagement to contestation for political powers.

Between the meeting and now, a lot of events have unfolded that have put members of the partnership operating on different wave lengths, in particular, the defunct Third Term agenda. A meeting of LASCO was not considered appropriate to harmonise positions on such matter. More so at the JAF level, meetings called to facilitate the process of defining a clear focus for LASCO since the demise of Beko Ransome-Kuti and Chima Ubani – the original chair and secretary of JAF – were poorly attended, thus the resolve of the UAD and DSM that:

  • the LASCO partnership cannot be reduced to a mere fire brigade platform where comrades suddenly come together to risking their career and lives in combats against a political order that makes no pretence about its lack of commitment to the basic needs and aspirations of the mass of Nigerians.
  • we must arrest the vicious circus of unfolding new platforms with limited objectives every now and then, but rather build on our past efforts and gains.

Thus, the political summit is not a recipe to another coalition or alliance but essentially a clarion call to rally all the forces that were actively engaged in the entire struggles against the hike in fuel prices on the need to sustain the LASCO platform as the baseline line of our outreach to Nigerians and the progressive political constituencies. It is our considered opinion that political alliances such as the People Alliance (PA) consummated on June 10, 2006 at the Mainland Hotel, Oyingbo, Lagos in which the UAD and DSM were involved should take advantage of the LASCO platform to deepen itself in form and contents.

The UAD and DSM are mere facilitators of the summit to reposition the strategic alliance between Labour and the civil society on the need for a sustained programme of working together towards capturing political power beyond the issue of the electoral context in 2007.

We acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Abayomi Ferreira, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Alternative (DA) in the 2003 General elections, which tallies with most of the issues we want addressed by the summit. Quoting Ferreira, “Whilst the right wing politicians are busy recycling military politicians and their ever-available collaborators in power though under changing names and organizations to remain in political power, the left keep recycling ideas and protest activities to remain as critics”.

Abiodun Aremu
Convener, UAD
Segun Sango
General Secretary, DSM