Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1107/31568

From The Socialist newspaper, 28 October 2020

Nigeria protests shake regime

End the rotten capitalist system

Fight for a socialist future

DSM members on a recent mass protest in Lagos, photo DSM

DSM members on a recent mass protest in Lagos, photo DSM   (Click to enlarge)

Robert Bechert, Committee for a Workers International (CWI)

Nigeria has passed through nearly a month of turmoil. Footage of the hated Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit casually killing a man and driving off with his car was the spark.

Years of frustration, disappointment, poverty, and anger exploded into a mighty mass movement, fundamentally undermining the regime of president Buhari, and putting into question the future of not just the current government system, but the very country itself.

This tremendous, inspiring youth movement had an electrifying impact on many parts of Nigeria. This upsurge was in complete contrast to the leaders of the country's trade union movement who, just two weeks earlier, had called off a general strike at the last minute, and signed an agreement backing the government's austerity policies which the general strike was meant to oppose!

Officially, the country was meant to be in the middle of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of independence from Britain. But what really is there to celebrate? A recent Senate committee report said that it would take "41 years" for Nigeria to have a stable electricity supply! This, on its own, is an indictment of both the Nigerian ruling class and the capitalist system.

Looting, corruption and bribery are endemic as the country's oil and gas wealth is systematically stolen. Yes, the low-paid police and military intimidate and collect bribes at roadblocks, but the real corruption starts at the top. It is why the capitalist politicians fight expensive and desperate 'do or die' election campaigns, to get themselves into positions where they can loot one way or another.

Explosion of anger

The movement against SARS, and its replacement SWAT unit, brought to a head the simmering anger. But the 20 October shooting down of unarmed demonstrators at the Lekki Toll Gate on Lagos' Victoria Island provoked an explosion of outrage.

The subsequent violence was not the result of the initially peaceful protests. Rather, much of it is in response to the sometimes brutal attitude of the police to demonstrations, and, more fundamentally, to the state and ruling party sponsored attacks on the demonstrators.

In the same way that 'do or die' politicians hire unemployed or criminal elements to attack rival parties and intimidate voters in elections, now they have been sponsoring attacks on the demonstrators and planting agent provocateurs, aiming to provoke confrontation, giving the authorities an excuse to act and profit from the chaos.

There are signs that some of these attacks had the backing of security forces. The BBC reported that "video evidence suggests that they were encouraged by police officers to target the demonstrators".

In an overwhelmingly young country, where two-thirds of young people are either unemployed or underemployed, there are those who can be hired to carry out such deeds.

But this violence has taken on a life of its own, with attacks in a third of Nigeria's 36 states on warehouses storing Covid-19 'food palliatives' - aid meant for distribution, but which has not been distributed over the past months.

The fact that some of this aid has rotted or been found in politicians' homes, did not help the government's claims that it was being stored in preparation for a second wave of Covid-19.

Significantly, it was not simply criminal elements looting these warehouses, the poor were as well; something not surprising in a country where about half the population, over 100 million people, are described as living in "extreme poverty".

The Democratic Socialism Movement in Nigeria (CWI in Nigeria) has long argued that working people and the poor need their own party, which can fight for their interests and build a mass movement that puts into power a government to end the rule of capitalism and, with socialist measures, fundamentally change the country.

To assist and deepen the anti-SARS movement, DSM launched the Youth Rights Campaign (YRC), which has produced leaflets, organised successful meetings, and more. Show solidarity, email YRC: [email protected]

Nigeria at a crossroads

This storm was brewing for some time. Even before Covid-19 hit, the country was in a severe social and economic crisis, alongside the Boko Haram insurgency and clashes between opposing ethnic and agricultural groups in central areas.

The fall in oil prices was leading to Nigeria suffering its second recession in four years. Inflation is taking off; currently food prices are rising at nearly 17% annually. In addition, there is huge unemployment (the official rate is 27.1%, ie 21.7 million people), with no social benefits, and the resulting poverty is worsened by widespread underemployment and non-payment of wages in both the state and private sectors.

Mass disappointment

The result is mass disappointment with Buhari, who was elected in 2015 with a promise of change, and continuing anger at the elite. It is not accidental that in London, Nigerian #EndSARS protesters demonstrated outside the expensive downtown house owned by Tinubu, the "National Leader" of Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC).

This explosive situation was one of the key factors why the trade union leaders called off the general strike scheduled to begin on 28 September. They feared starting a movement which they could not control.

While many activists were not surprised at the trade union leaders' actions, they have behaved in similar ways before. For many young people it seemed to show that the union leaders were simply part of the system.

At the same time, there was deep hostility to politics. At first, the anti-SARS protesters were 'anti-political', refusing to let political speakers address the rallies. This included the widely known activist, but not socialist, Omoyele Sowore, who is currently being prosecuted for calling for "RevolutionNow" protests.

But as the #EndSARS protests developed there was a significant change. Political action was seen as being necessary and the idea of a youth party, one which broke with all the rottenness of the ruling parties and their satellites, gained support.

But just being young, or new, is not a political programme. The issue is one of programme, what a party or movement will do. That is the key if it is going to make a fundamental change.

Unfortunately, there are signs that at least some of those who have claimed leadership of the #EndSARS protests are supporters of capitalism, arguing that only corruption needs to be removed and then Nigeria will develop.

Seun Kuti, the very well-known activist musician and son of Fela Kuti, argued that the list of five demands put forward by those heading the #EndSARS protests were "elitist" as they did not seek to end oppression, when the divide was between the ruling class and the "common man".

The statement issued on 23 October by the 'Coalition of Protest Groups' was clearly orientating mainly towards the 2023 elections, and said nothing about fighting poverty, oppression or corruption. Instead, it talked of representing "the different coalitions; from celebrities to activists, legal minds to strategists, journalists to entrepreneurs, etc." A list which significantly included "entrepreneurs", ie capitalists, but not labour, the working class and poor.

Such an approach does not deal with the fundamental questions facing Nigeria - namely the inability of capitalism to develop the country and the impact of repeated crises within world capitalism. And there is the danger that a few will use this movement as a stepping stone for their own personal advancement.

CWI in Nigeria

The Democratic Socialism Movement (CWI in Nigeria), along with others, launched the Socialist Party of Nigeria - a party that can begin to challenge the pro-capitalist parties and argue for the creation of a mass working peoples' party.

The repeated opportunities lost when labour leaders have refused to challenge the ruling class does not mean that the working class is weak. The 2012 general strike was an example of how labour and youth can spearhead a movement with the potential to carry through the socialist revolution that is required.

The #EndSARS movement has given a glimpse of what struggle can do. Its strength has forced the government to grant concessions, but it is clear that the ruling class has been simply looking for a breathing space.

Currently, with the movement ebbing, the government is starting to issue threats, and trying to prepare the way to use repression against protests.

The challenge now is to resist any repression, consolidate the gains that have been won, discuss the lessons of both the #EndSARS movement and the aborted September general strike, while preparing for the inevitable future battles as oppression and poverty are resisted and the struggle to change society goes on.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 28 October 2020:


What we think

Tories' school meals outrage


Coronavirus News

Don't let Tories starve our kids

Tory 'Starve a Kid to Save a Quid' scheme

Boots launches 120, 12-minute Covid test

Under the microscope


Workplace News

Backing Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary

Royal Mail: No more behind closed doors talks

Fight Leeds Labour council's massive cuts

Workplace news in brief


News

NHS England's 1bn winter shortfall: we need union action, not platitudes!

BAME Covid deaths due to capitalist inequality, confirms government

Mayor and government compete to attack London transport: fight for no cuts!

Grenfell watch: landlord's 800,000 saving


Food Standards

Food and a capitalist Brexit: No trust in Tory Deals!


International News

Nigeria protests shake regime

"We need a leadership that comes from the movement"

Bolivia elections: Crushing defeat for the right as MAS secures landslide victory

US presidential election


Campaigns

Online youth rally says: We won't pay with our futures

Birmingham: 'Refund our fees' protests

Solidarity with the movement in Nigeria

Evicted students can fight back and win

Waltham Forest Save Our Square:

Why I joined the Socialist Party - "I'm 15, and already I've lived through two global recessions and a pandemic"

Bristol jobs protest: We want 100% pay


Readers' Opinion

One rule for them, and another for us

Books that inspired me: Germinal

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 28 October 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Capitalist:

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Are co-ops the answer to capitalist exploitation?

triangleSocialism 2020

triangleSocialism 2020

triangleSocialism 2020

triangleTory crisis cannot be 'reset' - workers need a new mass party

Nigeria:

triangleLeeds protesters demand "Buhari must go!"

triangle"We need a leadership that comes from the movement"

triangleSolidarity with the movement in Nigeria

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: The protests in Nigeria

Capitalist system:

triangleAre cooperatives the answer to a failing capitalist system?

triangleCoronavirus - a workers charter 2020

triangleThe 1929 Wall Street Crash: When the capitalist system was on its knees

Socialist:

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: For a socialist Green New Deal

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

Government:

trianglePPE contracts: It pays to have friends in high places

General strike:

triangleMembers of Democratic Socialist Movement in Nigeria (a sister organisation of the Socialist Party in England/Wales) on the streets in Abuja during the current protests

Capitalism:

triangleTory U-turn: Free school meals

Youth:

triangleWe won't pay with our futures

Police:

triangleMangrove: When the black community made a stand against state racism

Oppression:

triangleInternational Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

International

International

11/11/20

USA

After the polarised elections - what way forward?

4/11/20

US

US presidential election 2020

4/11/20

Chile

Chile: A defeat for the right!

4/11/20

Poland

Poland: Mass protests against abortion ban

28/10/20

Capitalist

Nigeria protests shake regime

28/10/20

Bolivia

Bolivia elections: Crushing defeat for the right as MAS secures landslide victory

28/10/20

Government

"We need a leadership that comes from the movement"

28/10/20

US

US presidential election

14/10/20

Fascists

Greek workers and socialists celebrate convictions of Golden Dawn fascists

14/10/20

Nigeria

Nigeria: Mass protests force government to disband killer cop unit

7/10/20

Azerbaijan

'Frozen conflict' reignites in Nagorno-Karabakh enclave

7/10/20

Germany

Germany: "Heroes" strike to demand a pay rise

30/9/20

US

Trump's failure over western US wildfires

30/9/20

Police

US: Police escape justice over Breonna Taylor killing

30/9/20

South Africa

South Africa: Working class unity to stop violence against women

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


November 2020

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999