Speaking tour: the Struggle for Socialism in Nigeria

Hassan Taiwo Soweto, of the Democratic Socialist Movement in Nigeria, (the Socialist Party of England and Wales’ sister party) is speaking at meetings across the country:

  • Friday 19 May, London, 7pm, Portsoken Community Centre, 20 Little Somerset Street, London, E1 8AH
  • Tuesday 23 May, Brighton, PCS Conference fringe meeting, 5pm/end of conference, The Old Ship Hotel, 32-38 Kings Rd, Brighton, BN1 1NR
  • Wednesday 24 May, Cardiff, 7:30pm, Cathays Community Centre, Cathays Terrace, Cardiff
  • Thursday 25 May, Swansea, 7:30pm, Dyfatty Community Centre, Chapel Street, Swansea, SA1 1NB
  • Monday 29 May, Leeds, 7pm, the Adelphi, 1-3 Hunslet Road, Leeds, LS10 1JQ
  • Tuesday 30 May, Leicester, 7pm, Secular Hall, Humberstone Gate, LE1 1WB
  • Wednesday 31 May, Birmingham, 7pm, Top floor of The Wellington, Bennetts Hill, Birmingham City Centre, B2 5SN
  • Thursday 1 June, University West of Scotland Paisley, 4:30pm, UWS Paisley Student Union, Level two, Storrie Street
  • Thursday 1 June, Glasgow, 7pm, Glasgow city centre, Red Rosas, 195 London Road, G40 1PA

Nigeria is a country of huge natural and human resources. Yet under capitalism it provides huge profits for Western oil companies and a corrupt elite at the top of Nigerian society, while the majority of its population suffer terrible poverty, hardly functioning infrastructure, corrupt politicians, and growing conflicts.

One of the two biggest economies in Africa, its population is already estimated at over 210 million, making it the seventh most populous country in the world. By 2050 it is predicted to surpass 400 million. More than half of all Nigerians, and two thirds of the young, are unemployed or underemployed. The recent elections took place amid widespread currency shortages, causing enormous hardship for the majority.

Following the elections, the new president has been declared as Bola Tinubu, who was the candidate of the current ruling party, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC). However, the deep disillusionment with all the establishment politicians was reflected in the very low turnout of only 27% of registered voters. This means, even according to inaccurate official figures, Tinubu was elected by less than 10% of those with voting cards.

Another indication of the huge discontent was the numbers who voted for a candidate outside the ‘duopoly’ of the two main parties. Peter Obi, candidate of the Labour Party, came a close third with over six million votes. In the megacity of Lagos, which has been Tinubu’s powerbase, Obi came first.

Many young people, who took to the streets against police corruption in the 2020 EndSARS movement, saw Obi as different to the other corrupt capitalist politicians. However, his programme was not fundamentally different to that of the other two candidates and, contrary to the image he projects, he was named in the ‘Pandora Papers’ as a result of this his involvement in offshore tax havens.

The Democratic Socialist Movement, while it sympathised with young people enthused by Obi, did not therefore call for a vote for him in the election. Instead it gave critical support to the smaller left campaign of Omoyele Sowore standing for the African Action Congress.

Preparing for mass struggles

The Nigerian working class has a proud history of struggle, including numerous general strikes. Now the Democratic Socialist Movement is campaigning to urgently prepare the workers’ movement for the struggles to come. Tinubu has pledged to increase petrol prices, to impose higher tuition fees and introduce loans for students, and to implement other attacks on the living standards of the majority. The trade union movement, working people, youth and pro-masses’ organisations have to be prepared to resist his anti-poor economic policies. Most importantly, such a struggle against Tinubu’s anti-poor capitalist plan has to be linked with the building of a mass working people’s party on a socialist programme, to harness the enormous potential wealth of Nigeria to meet the needs of the majority rather than the profits of a corrupt few. This is an urgent step that the working masses must take if Nigeria, which is embroiled in ethno-religious crisis and insecurity, is to be saved from going down the road of barbaric violence and turmoil.