* Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) gains deeper echo in spite of right-wing attack
By Ayo Ademiluyi and Onwunalu Alexander
With more than one hundred people in attendance, including workers drawn from Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and students, a small but determined procession took off from the Freedom Park in Calabar, the Cross Rivers’ state capital as part of the nationwide mass rallies called by the Joint Action Front (JAF) to Save Public Education and for government to implement agreements with ASUU and other education workers unions.
Chanting solidarity songs, the procession stopped at various points within the city to address the mass of traders, artisans, students and community people. Thousands of leaflets by the Joint Action Front were distributed. Equally, the Education Rights' Campaign and the Socialist Party of Nigeria intervened in the mass rally with thousands of leaflets. Copies of the ERC leaflet in particular were well-received and even taken up by some of the protesters for mass distribution! The ERC leaflet specifically called on the ASUU, which is currently on an indefinite strike action to declare a day of nationwide mass rallies with its rank and file members leading the way, across the local branches of the union. Copies of the current Socialist Democracy, paper of the Democratic Socialist Movement, were also bought by protesters and passers-by.
The rally however took a sour turn when some right-wing "intellectuals" took offense at the presence of the SPN banner on the demo. They were not only openly against anything "party" but also anything "socialism". They vehemently attacked comrades of the DSM who were circulating the SPN leaflets. Capitalizing on this sectarian affront, certain operatives of the State Security Services who had infiltrated the protest wanted to use the scenario to hand over DSM comrades on the demo to army officers for arrest!
This disgraceful and highly embarrassing event was timely saved by JAF leaders who resisted any move to whisk away DSM comrades on the false arguments of being "political infiltrators" of the rally. At this point, our intervention in the rally was disrupted. However, this right-wing and reactionary attack that took place at the rear of the mass rally only fuelled strong solidarity and sympathy by those at the frontlines of the demo. It only took time before the right-wing elements were isolated and ostracized.
Some socialists based in Calabar later met with the DSM comrades to express their annoyance at the action of the right-wing and their willingness to be part of the SPN! They equally took copies of SPN leaflets for mass circulation in Calabar! They equally bought copies of the SPN Manifesto and Constitution with the copies of Socialist Democracy at solidarity prices! On the demo too we equally met a contact from an ASUU branch in in Abia state who came to meet us at the scene of the right- wing attack and gave us his contact for further discussion on the SPN. Equally a lawyer from Sokoto State who was attending the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference, holding on the same day with the mass rally in Calabar, who gave us his phone contact for further discussion on joining the SPN.
We have opened discussions with these contacts with the view of building on the political gains we had from the rally, in spite the unprovoked attack to restrain our intervention by right-wing elements. We left the mass rally, exuding with joy as being among the best democratic socialist representatives of the working masses and the poor with stronger determination to build the Socialist Party of Nigeria!