Thursday, 15 June 2017

18 years of Return to Civil Rule: Challenges for Workers and the Poor Masses

OYO SPN Holds Symposium

By Oladele Omokunle

It was a great moment on Monday, 29th May, 2017 when members and supporters of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) in Oyo State gathered for a political symposium held at the party secretariat at Mokola Ibadan. This was part of the efforts to deepen the campaign to prevail on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue the party its certificate of registration having satisfied all the conditions and requirements as prescribed in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended).

Unlike the previous symposia by the party which were held at the trade union offices in the state, this one was the first the party has held not only in its office but also within the community. This will no doubt help to deepen the growing public awareness the party is currently enjoying among workers, youths/student and other category of the working people within the state. 

 The symposium which has as its theme: “18 Years of Return to civil rule; Challenges for Workers and the Poor Masses” started with solidarity songs led by Comrade Abbey Trotsky who also moderated the programme. The speakers in attendance were Laoye Sanda, a socialist Activist; Barrister Ola Adeosun, human rights activist; Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto (SPN national youth leader) and Comrade Adeola Soetan (SPN NEC member). 

The first to lead discussion immediately after Abbey Trotsky gave a brief introduction of SPN and what it stands for was Mr Laoye Sanda who actually started by saying that what is called “democracy” in Nigeria is far from it. He maintained that all the political parties that have been able to form government at one level or the other since the inception of the civil rule in 1999 are pro-capitalist parties. He therefore stressed that it is the pro-rich character of these parties like PDP, AD, APC, APGA, etc  and the neo-liberal policies which they implement once they form a government that explain why they are often incapable to meet the need and aspiration of the working people .

He described the 16 years of PDP-led government as a disaster for the working people as he also maintained that similar result must be expected from APC and any government formed by any pro-capitalist political party.  While he blamed the leadership of trade unions particularly the Nigeria Labour congress (NLC) for their failure to provide the historical leadership to the working class and the poor masses in the struggle for working people political alternative, he commended the courage being demonstrated by members of DSM for taking the initiative to launch SPN. He therefore urged and encouraged members of DSM and SPN not to be discouraged with the antics of the capitalist ruling elites in connivance with INEC to frustrate the registration of the party as he insists that they must continue to organize the working people toward the struggle for a system change.

Speaking after Sanda was Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto. Soweto in his introduction expressed a lot of agreement with most of the submissions of the first speaker.  He went further to give a brief highlights of positive changes in term of significant improvement in both the living and working condition of the working people that are possible if the commanding heights of the economy are nationalized and the control and management are placed in the hands of the elected representatives of the working people. Comrade Soweto, in his submission urged every member of the working people that is dissatisfied with the state of the Nigeria and economy and are interested in a genuine change to join the SPN and help to build it as a step towards the task of a socialist transformation of the Nigeria state and its economy.

The need for a socialist transformation of the Nigeria capitalist economy was also emphasized by Comrade Adeola Soetan. Also very important is to note that Comrade Adeola Soetan requested from the audience while starting his speech, a one minute silence to mourn the death of prof. Abubakar Momoh, a former national officer of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and popular social crusader.  The news of his demise was broken in the middle of the programme.  After this, Barrister Ola Adeosun made his submission over whether civil servants can form or belong to political parties of their choice. Ola Adeosun stressed that it is a democratic right of civil servants to join and form political parties of their choice by making a reference to a Supreme Court judgment in the case of INEC VS BALARABE MUSA. 

The highpoint of the programme was the time for comments and contributions from the audience. All of the contributions and comments from the audience offered an opportunity for the discussion to be enriched! Take for instance, one Mr Dayo in his own contribution suggested that socialists and people with good intentions can join any of the bourgeois political parties despite their pro-rich character as a vehicle to get a political power after which they can begin to implement socialist programme. Another contribution which came from one Mr Kehinde, was a message of appreciation of the effort of the SPN members for organizing the symposium. He urged that more of such a programme should be organized in the coming period to give SPN and socialist idea a wider publicity among workers and the poor masses in the state.

Other comment is a question from Mr Gabriel who asked if a civil servant will need to resign if he or she is to stand as a candidate of a political party in an electoral contest. Comrade Isaac Ogunjimi, the secretary of DSM university of Ibadan branch, also charged the gathering on the need for a serious dedication to the task of socialist transformation of the Nigeria capitalist state.

First to respond to some of these comments was Comrade Adeola Soetan who dispelled the impression that a socialist who contested and won election on the platform of pro-capitalist political parties like APC and PDP can implement a socialist programme that is capable of bringing a significant transformation to the life of the suffering masses. A reference was made of Mr. Aregbesola, the incumbent governor of Osun state who claimed to be a Marxist but whose two terms as the governor of Osun state have not only failed to improve the working and living condition of the working people in the state but have succeeded only in compounding the economic woes of the working people in the state. 

The question as to whether a civil servant will need to resign before he or she contest election was answered by Barrister Ola Adeosun after which the programme was brought to an end around 3:30pm with solidarity songs. Twenty five copies of SD were sold, 6 persons signed the register to join SPN while over 25 persons in attendance.

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