Monday, 16 December 2013

Obasanjo’s Letter to Jonathan:

Another Reason to Build Genuine Political Alternative of the Working and Poor People

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s “Before it is too late” open letter to Jonathan graphically describes the crisis surrounding both the presidency and Nigeria itself. Although partly a product of the vicious in-fighting between the rival factions of the ruling class Obasanjo’s appeal has confirmed the impending catastrophe facing Nigeria.

This unprecedented letter has generated widespread debates and discussions, especially as it is widely acknowledged that the country is moving rapidly on a fast lane towards a cliff edge. The debate has further underscored the growing disillusionment of vast array of Nigerians with the current iniquitous capitalist political and economic set-up represented and headed by the Jonathan/PDP government.

The said letter, while signalling the growing bitter clashes within the various strata of the ruling elites on who next should control economic and political power, actually have nothing to do with the interests of the working and poor people. But the allegations levelled against the Jonathan government, especially those concerning the manner of governance, are both serious and trite even as it exposes the dubious character of Obasanjo.

Obasanjo is hypocritical; he writes that Jonathan is going down the Abacha road whereas the Odi massacre took place barely a few months into his own first term as civilian president. Nevertheless, Obasanjo paints a picture of a creeping dictatorship when he writes about an “allegation of keeping over 1,000 people on political watch  list  rather than  criminal  or  security  watch  list  and  training  snipers  and  other  armed personnel  secretly  and  clandestinely  acquiring  weapons  to  match  for political purposes like Abacha, and training them where Abacha trained his own killers, if it is true, cannot augur well for the initiator, the government and  the  people  of  Nigeria.”   

These weighty allegations coming from someone inside the inner temple of the capitalist gang again reflects the fact that devil can indeed be scared of human evil sometimes. It should be recalled that Obasanjo played major role in the emergence of Jonathan, both as acting president and substantive president since the death of Umar Yar’Adua. He helped manipulate the ruling PDP party to ensure the emergence of Jonathan.

The ‘revelations’ by Obasanjo, while not new, again reaffirm the position of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) that the Jonathan government, and indeed all sections of the ruling elites, including the self-proclaimed ‘opposition’ parties, cannot move the country forward economically, politically or socially. In a country where government earned five trillion naira from taxes alone in 2012, but still nothing works for majority of Nigerians, we do not need a soothsayer to tell us that the current political elites can only lead the country to a blind alley. The latest struggle among various strata of the ruling class for 2015 further underscores the need for working and oppressed people to begin the process of decisively intervening in the political landscape by building an alternative political platform that fundamentally represent their interests.

Obasanjo cannot now begin to divorce himself from the rots that currently characterize Nigeria. Indeed, the bankrupt political and economic policies of the Jonathan government are continuation of Obasanjo-era policies. Obasanjo government launched full-scale privatization policy that saw many public enterprises and infrastructures sold out to private hands. The seed of the current rot in the education sector, including the current university lecturers’ strike, was sown by the Obasanjo government. By the time Obasanjo was stopped from his third term agenda and forced to hand over, trillions of naira had accrued to state coffers, yet poverty was more pervasive than when he became president while unemployment was at a historic height. At a time when university education was gasping for survival, the best solution Obasanjo and his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, could offer was the establishment of their own private universities.

Therefore, Obasanjo is part of the rot of governance in Nigeria, and by all standards pacesetter for the Jonathan clueless and anti-poor capitalist government. All his pontification about insecurity, unemployment, corruption is mere attempt at whitewashing his horrible past. The same Obasanjo that was lamenting about Jonathan’s mismanagement of $7 billion could neither account for over $22 billion in excess crude account wasted by his regime nor the over $16 billion wasted on power sector without any tangible result. While corruption has attained a higher priority in Jonathan government’s scale of preference, it is actually a continuation of ruinous past under Obasanjo and Yar’Adua. His economic advice to Jonathan is that the latter, despite his rabid commitment to neo-liberalism, should further open up the economy, especially the oil sector to the IOCs (international oil companies).

However, one of the recurrent themes in Obasanjo’s letter is the issue of whether Jonathan should contest the 2015 election or not. For the majority of working and oppressed people in Nigeria, who have gained less but lost more since the emergence of Jonathan as president, they cannot wait an hour to send this ruinous government packing through mass movement. But the attempt of Obasanjo and the so-called ‘opposition’ party, the APC, to pose the issue of 2015 election around Jonathan contesting or not is self-serving. Indeed, the whole political class, including those in the ‘opposition’ party, represents a monster that an average Nigerian will want to do away with, as they have launched collectively and severally, anti-poor policies on the common people. If Jonathan is stopped today from contesting, the alternative being offered by the APC, or within the PDP will not be a break from the past for the working and oppressed people.

The influx of the anti-Jonathan politicians and governors in PDP into the fold of the ‘opposition’ APC party reflects the fact that, in principle and practice, fundamentally there is no difference between PDP and APC. The scenario of Oyinlola attending the same party meeting with Aregbesola in Osun State is a clear confirmation of this. For most politicians and governors in PDP, it will be a battle of political survival to ensure the continued rule of PDP, while the APC offers no genuine alternative. Therefore, the 2015 elections, aside being a ‘no choice’ situation for the working and oppressed people based on the PDP-APC permutation, may witness unprecedented political violence and rigging that will make 2007 and 2011 manipulations mere child’s play. As Obasanjo alluded to in his letter, Jonathan government is leaving no stone (except provision of basic needs of the common people), including ethnic card, unturned in ensuring his re-emergence come 2015. Surely, the ‘opposition’ will also take a cue from this. As Jonathan government continues to popularize the bonanza of massive looting at federal levels, various state governments including those controlled by the opposition are also building huge reservoir of loots. Therefore, 2015 paints a picture of gloom for the common people.

It is against this background that we in the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) reiterate our call on workers, youths, professionals, artisans, market men and women, unemployed, and the oppressed people in general to join force with us in building a political alternative to the rot represented by the PDP and its clone, misnamed opposition. We make clarion call on leadership of labour movement in Nigeria, being the most organized platform of working people, to spearhead this process for the formation of a genuine political alternative. However the current Labour Party (LP) cannot serve this purpose. Despite being initially formed by the trade unions, Obasanjo’s letter confirms how the LP has been taken over by corrupt elements. The LP leaders have, so far, been silent, on Obasanjo’s complaint to Jonathan that “in the South-West …disgruntled PDP members were going around to recruit people into the Labour Party for you, because, for electoral purpose at the national level, Labour Party will have no candidate but you.” A so-called Labour Party allied with Jonathan’s PDP faction cannot represent working people.

We propose that the process of building this genuine alternative should begin with the convocation of a summit of labour unions, pro-labour organizations, left and socialist organizations, organizations of working people, youth and unemployed, to discuss the formation of a political platform that will champion the demands and needs of the common people. Such a political platform must make as its central programme the takeover of society’s wealth from the hands of rich few, and putting it under democratic public ownership of the working and oppressed people from grassroots to the national level. Such a political platform must ensure that political office holders earn the wages of skilled worker while there must be open democratic process within such a platform. These are necessary for such platform to make genuine difference. Moreover, the labour movement should unite the working and oppressed people through mass struggles against anti-poor, pro-rich policies of capitalist governments at all levels e.g. privatization of electricity sector, under funding of education, pervasive corruption, etc. and in defence of democratic rights.

These struggles, along with building political alternative can mobilize the working and oppressed people together in common struggle to end the rule of ruinous capitalist political class. The labour movement will be betraying its historic duty if it fails in this direction. SPN is committed to playing a vital role in the process of liberating the oppressed people from the clutches of suffering in the midst of superabundance.

Segun Sango                                                             Chinedu Bosah
National Chairperson                                             National Secretary

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Worsening Electricity Situation: Labour must call Mass Protest and 24-hour General Strike

We Reject Fraudulent Hike in Tariffs by New Private Owners
We Call for Renationalization of Electricity Companies under Democratic Control of Workers, Communities and Consumers

Press Statement

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) deplores the worsening electricity situation in the country since the privatisation of the public electricity last month. We hold that this situation confirms vividly our position that privatization rather than improve the horrible state of electricity will worsen it.

We condemn the irresponsible hike in electricity tariffs by the privatized electricity companies as well the retrenchment of several thousands of electricity workers, and non-payment of entitlement of over 7, 000 of them.

According to newspapers’ reports, over 50 percent of the workforce of the former PHCN has been sacked while those retained are already casualised. This has had untoward effects on the repair of faulty facilities, and supply of electricity, as there are few staff to operate and maintain electricity infrastructures. Consequently, there has been reduction in running cost including cost of replacement of faulty parts. All this has led to incessant power cut. On the generation side, the situation has also worsened, as new private owners have refused to maintain the little generation guaranteed under public owned PHCN. According to the Vanguard newspaper (December 2, 2013), the new owners have been defaulting in payment of gas supply to the generating plants, leading to drastic cuts in power generation.

To add insult to injury, while private buyers have no solution to the debilitating electricity situation that is killing small businesses and increasing cost of living for the working class, they are quick to hike tariffs criminally, with crazy (estimated) bills becoming the norm. For instance, according to Vanguard newspaper of December 2, 2013, maintenance charge has been hiked by 100 percent to N1, 500, while other hidden charges have also been added.

Behind this development is the fact that the so-called private investors/buyers are mostly portfolio investors whose sole aim is amassing huge profits with little or no risk. This is why already the government, just weeks after privatization, is giving the Electricity Generating companies N50billion to increase generation (Nation, December 4, 2013). The fact that the new private owners need public funds completely undermines any argument in favour of privatization and shows that privatization is simply a way of giving capitalists a new source of profit.

According to Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the government agency carrying out privatization of public assets, about N300 billion is required in the next five years by new buyers to improve the electricity situation. In fact, according to International Energy Association (IEA), over N900 billion is needed annually over ten years in investment to guarantee universal access to electricity by all Nigerians. This surely will involve not just massive investment in infrastructures, but also employment of thousands of new hands. But it is highly unlikely that the new private owners will be prepared to invest such amounts and, if they do, they will charge sky high prices in order to make a profit.

But we can already see, on the basis of the reality on the ground, that the private buyers cannot guarantee these. Rather than retrain staff and employ new hands, several thousands have been disengaged. Worse still, there is no reasonable plan by the new buyers to improve the rapidly worsening electricity situation in the country. All they want is guarantee of profit by astronomical hike in tariff. All this has confirmed our position that privatization of electricity is a disaster.

On this basis, the SPN calls on labour movement to demand immediate reversal of the obnoxious privatization of electricity and retrenchment and casualization of staff. We call on the labour movement leadership including leadership of NLC and TUC, to immediately begin a nationwide mass protest against worsening electricity situation in the country and demand immediate renationalization of the private companies. This must be linked to the calling of a 24-hour general strike on this crisis and other pressing issues, like the ASUU strike, facing working people. Such a general strike must be accompanied by mass mobilization of workers, market men and women, youth, communities, and the oppressed in general; with active collaboration with pro-labour civil societies like Joint Action Front. It should be noted that the passive acquiescence of labour movement leadership emboldened the government to go ahead with the privatization of electricity companies.

We in SPN maintain that the failure of PHCN under public ownership to guarantee power supply is not a product of impracticability of public ownership. On the contrary it is the corrupt capitalist ruling class that turned the sector into cash cow for their selfish interest. In the last 12 years over $20 billion has been purportedly spent on the power sector by successive capitalist governments in Nigeria with nothing to show for it. Private ownership can only make the situation worse, as the so-called private investors, aside looking for cheap profits, comprise the same set of people that contributed to the run-down of public enterprises. Therefore, as a viable alternative, labour movement leadership must demand democratic control of electricity companies by elected representatives of workers, communities, consumers and professional groups. With massive deployment of huge wealth of the country into expansion and improvement of electricity infrastructures, under democratic control and management, it can be possible to make electricity sector serve as engine of development of the country.

However, the failure of Nigerian capitalist ruling class to resolve electricity problem again underscores the fact that Nigeria cannot move forward with the current set of capitalist political class. On this basis, we call on labour movement, being the most organized platform of the working and oppressed people to begin the process of building an alternative political platform to the rot constituted by capitalist political class of all shades, whose rule has ensured suffering for the majority in the midst of huge human and material resources. The SPN is committed to supporting this cause and setting an example of building an independent political movement of working people.

Chinedu Bosah
National Secretary

Socialist Party of Nigeria

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Press Statement

The Federal Government’s planned sack of University lecturers and militarization of campuses is clearly aimed at intimidating the lecturers who have been on strike over deplorable working conditions and facilities in the Universities. The plan is not only undemocratic but also despotic. The Goodluck Jonathan-led federal government is clearly showing again that it cannot govern successfully except through force. The same military tactics was employed during the January 2012 mass protest by the government when it unleashed armed forces personnel against peaceful protesters who opposed the unjustified increment in fuel price. Nigeria is indeed speedily descending into a full scale Police State. 
The genesis of the lingering crisis started with the failure of the federal government to implement the 2009 agreement reached with the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU). It must be emphasized that the same party (Peoples Democratic Party), which was in power when the agreement was reached is still ruling while President Jonathan was the Vice-President when the agreement was reached and the President when the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 2012.
But it was actually the same government that became recalcitrant and insisted that the agreement should be renegotiated and this led to another agreement on November 4, which watered down the 2009 agreement. ASUU correctly reported back to its relevant organs and its NEC agreed that the government should take certain steps that will assure lecturers that the latest agreement would be honoured while there would be no victimization. ASUU therefore requested that government should release N200 billion in the next two weeks and pay the four-month salary arrears owed its members.
If government was genuinely concerned about improving the state of facilities at the universities, it would have met these requests of ASUU so that academic activities can resume. Rather, the Supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike in line with the directive of President Jonathan gave a marching order to lecturers to resume before December 4, 2013 or be sacked, which is reminiscent of the dark days of the military. It must be understood that apart from failing to implement agreement reached with ASUU, the government had failed to honour agreements reached with several unions, which is responsible for the multiple strikes by different unions in the education sector.
We must remind the federal government that it did not blink an eye before it released N620 billion to 10 private Banks in 2009 and have so far spent about N3trillion to bailout the banking industry despite the fact that it was obvious that the crisis was caused by the corruption of a few Bank chiefs and their collaborating private friends. Besides, the ruling class is running a private, self-centered and selfish agenda at the expense of the interest of all.  
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) calls on the federal government to immediately withdraw security agents from all Universities and begin to implement the agreement reached with ASUU. The same lecturers had waged several struggles including strikes in the past and at no time had properties been destroyed or union officials forcing its members to participate in strikes. Hence, the claim that the police has been sent to Universities to protect lives and properties is absurd.
SPN strongly feels that if government at all levels employs the same seriousness and energy on revitalizing the education and other sectors as it is putting into using wanton force to intimidate workers and the masses as well as the obvious mismanagement and looting of our common wealth, Nigeria would boast of a better economy and public infrastructure.
SPN hereby calls on President Goodluck Jonathan and Mr. Nyesom Wike to immediately rescind its draconian approach and begin the implementation of the agreement as a step towards massively investing in the educational sector as the only way to resolve the crisis in the sector. We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliates to begin mobilization of workers for sustained actions against attacks on the lecturers. An attack on ASUU must be seen as an attack on workers everywhere.   

Chinedu Bosah
Protem National Secretary


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) Holds Inaugural Convention

A Political Party of the Working Class is Born

By Hassan Taiwo Soweto

National Youth Leader

"Today we are beginning a new chapter in the history of Nigeria; a chapter that will be dominated by the political struggle of the working masses to take power and begin to take control of the destiny of this Nation in the interest of the vast majority"

With this Segun Sango, the National Chairperson of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), presented the welcome address that captured the essence of the party’s inaugural convention - a gathering of nearly 60 trade unionists, workers, youths, students and community activists. Some delegates from the far North, East and South south who had to travel over 8 hours on the road had arrived on the eve of the convention.

The inaugural convention of the SPN was held on Saturday 16 November 2013 at the Women Development Centre (WDC) Agege Lagos. The SPN was initiated by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) last year. 

A Cross Section of Delegates at the Convention
Comrade Peluola Adewale while declaring open the convention announced to rousing applause the victory of DSM's sister organisation Socialist Alternative Kshama Sawant incredible victory against a Democrat incumbent in the council elections in Seattle, United States. DSM and Socialist Alternative which are both affiliated to the Committee for a Workers International (CWI).  For days Nigerian comrades had monitored the vote counting with bated breath up till Friday November 15 when Democratic incumbent Richard Conlin conceded defeat. If socialist ideas could win in the belly of the beast, the citadel of capitalism, why not here? And of course in 2003, DSM Lanre Arogundade contesting on the platform of the National Conscience Party (NCP) for Lagos West Senatorial seat won over 77,000 votes in an election dominated by vote buying and rigging by the then ruling Alliance for Democracy (AD) now re-christened All Progressive Congress (APC).

This was followed by a welcome address by Comrade Segun Sango. According to him, "14 years after civil rule, the high expectations of millions of Nigerians for real positive change in their lives have been shattered by the politicians of PDP, APC, LP and other elite politicians in the other capitalist parties. Not only has there been no substantial improvement in the lives of the working masses, in some respect the situation has become worse. Tens of millions of Nigerians still live without access to good food, housing, roads, water, electricity, education and healthcare. Thousands of workers have been retrenched from their jobs. Despite Nigeria's abundant wealth, over 112 million Nigerians out of a population of about 170 million are too poor to afford the basic standard of living of good shelter, nutritious food and good quality education.

Segun Sango, SPN National Chairperson
Perhaps the most serious aspect of Nigeria's problems is the poor and hopeless condition of the youth. Today unemployment has become a permanent feature of the life of our youth despite alleged impressive economic growth. The latest, July 2013, population estimate is that Nigeria has 175.5 million inhabitants. Of these 76.8 million (43.8%) are under 14 years old. When you add the 33.6 million 15 to 24 year olds, 63.1% of Nigeria's current population is under 25 years old. But capitalism cannot offer these youth a real future".

According to him, since 1986 when Labour Militant, the forerunner of the DSM came into existence as a distinct Trotskyite group, we had inscribed on our banner the demand for a political party of the working class. Between then and now, we have seen two attempts by the working class to build a party of their own betrayed and/or shipwrecked by the bureaucratic labour leaders with pro-capitalist outlook who have little or no faith in the ability of the working masses to salvage Nigeria. First time in 1989, large crowds of workers, youth and poor masses welcomed the formation of the Nigerian Labour Party only for the Babangida military junta to dissolve all political parties in favour of just two - The NRC and the SDP. The tragedy of the story was that instead of the labour movement resisting this undemocratic step of the regime, they acquiesced meekly. 

Simeon Abraham  from Rivers State

The second and current attempt was 2005 when the Labour Party was formed out of the rump of the Party for Social Democracy (PSD) which had been registered in 2002 by the Adams Oshiomhole-led leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). But not only did Adams Oshiomhole himself abandon the party for the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) - now APC, today the labour leaders have abandoned the LP for moneybag politicians such that the party has no working class membership.

These were the historical betrayals of the labour leadership, including the hijack by a rightwing and pro-capitalist leadership of the NCP where we worked and helped build, which has made the DSM to begin the SPN initiative. While we have not abandoned our agitation for a mass working peoples’ party we hold strongly that now even a small party can set a striking example, something that is imperative especially at present when there is no party that represents the interests of working class people.

There were not a few people, the ruling elite and unfortunately some self-acclaimed left, who felt the SPN initiative would not succeed. The success of the inaugural convention is a clear and bold rebuttal of these elements. As Segun Sango pointed out: "For a long time, the capitalists and their apologists relying on the undemocratic and pro-rich provisions of the constitution and the Electoral Act which ensure that only looters and moneybag politicians can form political parties, have made it impossible for the working masses to have a true political representation...However today and despite the huge difficulties, we are demonstrating that we can meet the constitutional provisions for the formation of a new political party as stipulated under the 1999 Constitution". 

Alfred Adegoke from Osun State
A Minute Silence for Prof. Festus Iyayi

The SPN is a party that supports all struggles of the working masses to improve their conditions. Thus at the convention, the party demonstrated its solidarity with the struggle of University lecturers for a better public University system. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on a nationwide strike for over four months to demand better funding of the education sector and the improvement in University lecturer's working conditions. The demands of the union which has dominated public discussion for over four months now has exposed the contradiction of a profit-first capitalist system which gives less priority to the social services like public education, health care etc. In the midst of the strike, a leading ASUU leader and former president of the union, Prof Festus Iyayi, died in an auto crash caused by the convoy of the Kogi State Governor Idris Wada. In solidarity with the struggle of ASUU, the convention observed a minute silence in memory of Iyayi.

Mass Misery in the Midst of Abundance

After the welcome address, Dr. Sola Olorunyomi (the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities Human Right Committee) gave an interesting lecture on the topic: "Mass misery in the midst of plenty - the role of working class organisations". He started his lecture with the following words "Today, I am extremely privileged ... I Consider it a rare privilege to be here". Olorunyomi emphasized the importance of a working class political alternative. However according to him, while participation in election is okay, it does not mean that the electoral road is the only road to overthrow capitalist rule.  "I do feel the party of the people must seek open democratic processes to move society forward but in the final analysis it is the ruling class that will help people determine how they will take power. Whether they will take power or not is not in doubt". This is obviously right. 

Dr Sola Olorunyomi, Guest Lecturer
However as the DSM argues, an alternative political party of the working class is needed at all time whether for electoral contest to try to win power or whether for mass mobilisation to take power. A political party of the working class existing with clear ideas of how a new society based on cooperation and solidarity would be built is essential to ensure that when the masses move onto the stage of history, the goal is clear. This is unlike the developments in Egypt and Tunisia today where the struggle of the working masses for socio-economic change has not achieved desired result because of the movement was instinctively led by masses without the benefit of a clear cut working class socialist vision and method of how to permanently win the struggle against the capitalist and military controllers of these societies.

The Boko Haram insurgency in the North East is a particularly serious issue which shows how the terrible economic conditions is forcing a layer, especially disaffected youths, to take desperate measures trying to seek solution. Olorunyomi declared: "You can't defeat Boko Haram with a standing army. It is not doable! It is not possible! What can defeat Boko Haram is the people!".

Talking about the need for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC), Olorunyomi came very close to DSM's articulation of an SNC dominated by the representatives of the working masses. "I have absolutely no problem in an ethnic formation. What I do have problem with is the government claiming to want to have a National Conference and bring only the bourgeois section of all ethnic groups". Olorunyomi declared there is an alternative mode of development to the profit-first ideology of capitalism. "So if we say for instance all the children in the land will be educated; so be it! Then we work out how the economy will cope with it". Contrary to this, under capitalism, the economy is made to cope not for the needs of the people but the profit of a few. This is why we have Nigeria's economy growing yet there are no jobs. The result is over 112 million poor Nigerians despite the abundance of human and natural resources required to make life better for all.

Ultimately, we have to "fall back on the energy of the masses through a new non-alienating state structure that will change the nature of property relation and ownership structure. And I say this can't be done by a bourgeois party. I think this can be done only by a Socialist party". Olorunyomi submitted.  Obviously by this he meant the coming to power of a working masses government armed with socialist policies which is exactly what the SPN is gearing up to do. 

Catechist Ambrose Sunny from Abia State
Despite the little time available, a lively discussion ensued after Dr. Olorunyomi's speech. About eight delegates made fantastic contributions. All stressed the importance of the building of the SPN as a working class political alternative. According to leading DSM member and SPN delegate from Oyo State comrade Adewale Barshar, the SPN should build its root among the working masses in the work places and communities. "we should organise programs with people in the communities. Many people may not come to us immediately today, but the masses will come to us when we have persevered; when they see that we are true and genuine". 

Ms Sodiya
In her contribution, Ms. Sodiya (a one-time member of the National Conscience Party) expressed her happiness at the steps being taken in building SPN. She went down memory lane describing her experiences in the NCP and how for a brief period, NCP provided a platform for radical youths, workers and masses to fight for change. The SPN has to be built like this. She ended her contribution by charging the delegates to be steadfast. "Do you want change and are you going to be part of that change! Please search your mind and redouble your commitment to the struggle".

A  Political Party like no Other

Comrade Lanre Arogundade (member of the DSM Executive Committee and one-time Senatorial Candidate of the National Conscience Party) while summing up the lecture further explained that the SPN is no place for careerists. Rather the SPN is a party that operates on the principle of workers representatives on a workers' wage. "This is a party where if you are going to stand for election, you are not going to be earning all these fantastic jumbo salaries that Senators and other political office holders earn otherwise we are not going to be different from bourgeois parties. So we are going to do what we did in the NCP and even much more better by saying those who are elected on the platform of the SPN will earn not more than the wages of those they represent while the remainder of their salaries and allowances will be donated to the party and to the labour and social movements to aid the struggles of workers, youths and the masses in the communities".

Lanre Arogundade, Member of DSM's NEC
While further explaining how the SPN should be built as a political party distinct from the pro-rich parties of the capitalist parties, Lanre Arogundade said that "the SPN will seek to be the party of all working class elements whether you are a worker, unemployed, traders, youth, market women, peasants etc. SPN is a party they offer a pro-people's alternative to the ruinous neo-liberal policies of privatisation being implemented by the ruling parties of the PDP and APC. SPN stands for public ownership and democratic control of the economy to benefit the majority. In addition SPN will stand in solidarity and actively participate in the struggles of workers, youth and masses when they are on strikes  protests, demonstrations and pickets".

Arogundade added, "When we say there is no opposition in Nigeria, it’s because other than lip-service, we have not seen any of the bourgeois political parties that is for example ready to march on the streets with ASUU. The SPN will be and should be that kind of political party".

No Place for Moneybags!

At the end of the lecture, an SPN building fund was launched. A sum of N15, 915 was collected while the sum of N85, 000 was raised in pledges. Hitherto, the activities of the SPN have been financed by the special struggle fund raised from comrades and supporters by DSM which has generated till date N823, 500.

While the main capitalist parties of the PDP and ACN are financed by moneybag politicians who are looting society's resources, the SPN relies on the political support of the working people and masses. As Segun Sango proudly announced to the convention, "In getting to where we are today, we have never sought or accepted a single donation from any moneybag politician or member of the capitalist ruling elite. Rather, we have relied heavily on the financial donation from workers, youth, students, masses and our supporters across the country. This is how we shall continue to build the SPN. The SPN must continue to be a political party owned, controlled and funded by workers, masses and the youth".

A Huge Accomplishment

The mood at the convention was very optimistic. There was the feeling that now we are starting on a clear road which can enable us to successfully meet the conditionalities stipulated for registration of a new political party under the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. Gathered at the convention were delegates from all the six geo-political zones of the country; an incredible achievement for a small socialist organisation. They represented the broad spectrum of the oppressed: workers, youth, students and masses.

Some of the Delegates from the North
This incredible accomplishment is a political success for the DSM which has been waging a political struggle for a working class political representation since its inception. This does not mean that all NEC members are DSM members but that we are able to recruit members for the SPN on the basis of the socialist ideas championed by the DSM since 1986 is a graphic testimony that the entirety of the Nigerian working masses regardless of geo-political zones, ethnic group or religion are yearning for change from prevailing capitalist misrule.

While the comrades and activities of the DSM (the initiator of the SPN) only extend to four zones of the country in terms of branches and membership, the SPN initiative enabled us to reach out to working class people and change-seekers across all the six geo-political zones of the country including places we previously had no member or activities. This includes the Boko Haram-ravaged Northeast region of the country where a coordinated campaign of bombing and killings is being conducted by Boko Haram and the forces of the state under the guise of fighting Boko Haram. Between last year and now, the interim national leadership of the party crisis-crossed the length and breadth of the country to mobilise support for the party. In the run-up to the Convention, zonal meetings were organised in all the zones including Abuja except the Northeast due to the prevailing security situation in the case of the former and, and SouthWest where we already functional chapters and active members of the party.  The challenge of resources means that interim leadership had to prioritize other areas hitherto with little or no presence.  

DSM Stand at the Convention
Of course this by no means meant every member elected into the NEC were able to make it to the convention. A few could not. However, the party made sure that all those who were elected into the NEC but could not, for different reasons include distance, lack of money to pay for transport and other circumstances, make it to the convention sent written confirmation of their consent to be elected into the NEC and these were read to the convention.

Convention Proper

After the plenary session was concluded, the convention went straight into election which was conducted by the Convention Committee comprising Comrades Peluola Adewale, Victor Osakwe and Mary George. A 30-member NEC was elected with Segun Sango as the National Chairperson, Chinedu Bosah as National Secretary and Bashir Tanko as National Treasurer. See here the full list of names of elected NEC members of the party

Immediately after the election of the NEC the party Manifesto and Constitution were adopted with minor amendments.

With the convention where a 30-member National Executive Committee (NEC) representing the six geo-political zones of the country was elected, the last hurdle in the race to meet the onerous requirements of the constitution has been crossed. The other is the location of the party headquarter in Abuja and that has been accomplished with the securing of an office apartment at 42 Adetokunbo Ademola Street Wuse II Abuja. The next step now is to submit an application to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). 

Some of the elected NEC Members
After a refreshing lunch, delegates began their journey back to their different states and zones imbued with a new inspiration and confidence to continue the building of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) as a political party of the workers, youth and the masses. If the party does not depart from its policies and methods as stated in its manifesto, the prospect for its growth is bright.

"The ruling class or their representatives have no place in our party. Resting on the working and toiling masses, the SPN shall build a movement to liberate Nigeria from the oppressive capitalist elite ruining the country. We shall mobilise support for and intervene in the daily struggle of all the sections of the working people for improvement and against all forms of capitalist attacks. We will give solidarity to all workers and oppressed in Africa, and elsewhere in the world, and actively support their struggles for liberation from capitalism". With these words Segun Sango clearly delineated the SPN as a political party without equal in principle and method at present in Nigeria.