A Nigerian Socialist
On 23 January, the Leicester branch of the Socialist Party held a public meeting to discuss the crisis in Nigeria and how working and poor people can fight for change.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto, a leading member of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) – the Nigerian section of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) – led this discussion on the need to organise politically to overthrow capitalism and fight for a working people’s government armed with socialist programme.
In the case of Nigeria, the crisis of capitalism in a neocolonial country presents a horrific situation with extreme mass poverty, skyrocketing inflation and mass killings and kidnappings perpetrated by armed bandits.
Poverty has also grown worse with statistics now stating that 12.9% of the global population living in extreme poverty can be found in Nigeria.
Amid these crises, there is a bottled-up anger which was partly reflected at Christmas when President Tinubu drove in a large convoy in Lagos and the crowd chanted “we are hungry”. Unfortunately, the labour movement in Nigeria has failed to galvanise this anger and lead the working class in a struggle for better living conditions and a concerted effort to organise a genuine political alternative that can challenge the current ruling and thieving elites.
Soweto concluded his leadoff by urging the Nigerians present at the meeting – who have been forced out of the country as a result of the unbearable conditions of living – to join and support the struggle to take Nigeria out of the doldrums by lending their financial support to the DSM and participating in the activities to campaign for a new mass workers’ party armed with a socialist programme.
Trefforest, South Wales
Mariam Kamish, Rhondda Cynon Taff Socialist Party
You could feel the buzz this past week in Trefforest – home to a large number of Nigerian students.
It had taken ten days of hard work to generate, but now people were talking about our Nigeria meeting, advertised on posters around the streets.
We’d put a leaflet through every door. We’d stood on the university gates at lunchtime to talk to people.
On the day, 30 January, 23 filed into the hall to hear Abbey Trotsky, one of the leaders of our sister party in Nigeria, the Democratic Socialist Movement – ten from Nigeria, one from Cameroon.
“Nigeria is stupendously rich both in human and natural resources”, Abbey told the meeting, “but instead of that wealth translating into a better life for all of us, it’s always been stolen.
“90% of our income is derived from the sales of crude oil. But it’s in the hands of Shell and Chevron with the remnants shared out among their friends.
“The first thing socialism is going to do is take away this source of wealth from the private billionaires – nationalise it and put it under democratic workers’ management and control. And not only the oil – the banks. With every elected officer to receive the salary and allowances of a civil servant.”
A number of Nigerian students came into the discussion – talking about the hardships they face in Wales. Part-time work is scarce, irregular and ill-paid. The university constantly hounds them for money. And there are almost insurmountable obstacles to bringing their families over.
In closing, Abbey told the meeting: “Rest assured that if revolution was taking place in Nigeria today, world leaders would set aside their differences to ensure that revolution was crushed.
“To defeat them, we’d need international solidarity of the workers and the poor across the world.
“That is why we need an international socialist organisation. We are fighting for socialism not only in Nigeria, but across the world. That is why I urge you those of you attending a meeting for the first time to join the Socialist Party of England and Wales.”
After the meeting, Nigerian students clustered around the table to buy the Socialist newspaper. They lingered outside the hall to chat to Abbey. Five have been in touch to say they’re coming to our next local branch meeting.