Attack shows ruling party intent on repressing all criticism with extreme measures
For the Unity of Working and Poor People in Struggle against Anti-Poor Policies
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the recent Wuse market attack on the #OurMumuDonDo movement led by popular entertainer Charles Oputa (Charly Boy) that was organizing protest actions around Abuja to call on ailing President Muhammadu Buhari to either “Resume or Resign”. We consider this attack, which is a follow up to the unwarranted police attack on the protesters at the Unity Fountain on 9 August 2017, as a clear indication of the ruling All Progressive Congress’s (APC) intent to repress all criticism of the Buhari administration with extreme measures.
We call on the labour movement and working people’s organizations to also speak up and condemn the attack because it portends grave dangers for the struggles of the working people in general.
The vicious attack occurred on Tuesday 15 August 2017 when Charly Boy and his group marched in protest to Wuse market calling for ailing President Buhari’s resumption or resignation. Victims of the attack included the protesters as well as journalists. This attack raises fear about how fast Nigeria is being turned into a banana republic where any criticism of the ruling party and the administration of President Buhari are considered as a crime punishable by complete character assassination, blackmail or death.
To be clear, the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) does not necessarily agree with Charly Boy and his group that the resignation of President Buhari and replacement by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo would resolve any of the socio-economic problems afflicting the working and toiling people of this country. This is because even if Buhari resigns today, it is Acting President Osinbajo who would take over which means that fundamentally the same neo-liberal and anti-poor policies which are the hallmark of the Buhari administration would be the order of the day.
For us in the SPN, the entire anti-poor Buhari/Osinbajo government and the inequitable capitalist economic system upon which it is based deserves to be overthrown and replaced by a workers and poor people’s government armed with clear socialist programmes. But this does not mean that Charly Boy and others who hold that opinion have no right to express it or should be prevented or assaulted while doing so.
As far as we are concerned, citizens have a right to ask questions not just about government policies but also about the conducts, actions and the health conditions of political office holders including that of President Buhari whose medical bill in London is being footed by tax payers.
Indeed, we are of the strong believe that all citizens have a right to voice their opinion and protest any injustice and in any part of the country. Charly Boy and his group equally enjoy this right just as every other Nigerian. Therefore if anyone had any opposition to the issues and demands around which Charly Boy and his group have been organizing and protesting over the past few days, all they need to do is to organize a peaceful counter protest to push forward their own opinion. This is how real and genuine democracy should work. Otherwise a dangerous precedent would be set which would only result in the complete asphyxiation of freedom of expression and other basic democratic rights of the Nigerian people and of course the restoration of despotism disguised in civilian robes.
In our opinion, the ruling party and the government should be held responsible for the attack. The attack did not just occur. Grounds for it had been prepared by the hostile reactions of the Presidency to the protesters which denigrated and blackmailed them in sponsored propaganda laced with ethnic connotations as anti-Buharists and sponsored opposition agents. Indeed not only did the ruling party and its agents later sponsored several of their own pro-Buhari protests guarded and shepherded by mounted police, the action of the police on 9 August 2017 which without any provocation whatsoever tear-gassed the “Resume or Resign” protesters, who were just a handful of people, while also reportedly assaulting Charly Boy himself were the green light for the mob violence that happened on Tuesday. It is in this sense that the government and the ruling party should take the blame for this occurrence.
It is over one hundred days that President Buhari has been out on the country on health vacation. The lies and cover up around the sickness of Buhari by the government is responsible for why many people cannot take the government seriously. Because a government that wants to be taken seriously will have come up with details of the health status of President Buhari and let the whole country know the actions being taken. This might have averted much mis-information that has partly provoked the growing anger today in Nigeria which unfortunately is being channeled along ethnic lines.
We support the right of any group to protest and also condemn attack on any group. We condemn mob actions as we do not consider it as the best way that any group of people can respond to a protest or agitation they are opposed to. Especially against the background of the rising ethnic tension across the country, such attacks that occurred at Wuse market can easily further worsen the situation. This rising ethnic tension is being fuelled by the unresolved national question and in particular the abysmal failure of the Buhari/Osinbajo government whose neo-liberal economic policies have further deepened poverty and hardship among the working class and all categories of oppressed people.
We support a united struggle of working masses and oppressed people of all regions, religions and languages to unite in fighting for improved living condition, jobs for unemployed, for new minimum wage, end to casualization and end to all forms of corruption by the top government officials. Only these demands can unite all Nigerians ravaged by poverty and unemployment irrespective of their ethnic affiliation and religion. If this kind of struggle is linked with the building of a mass workers political alternative armed with socialist programmes, it can lay the basis for a revolutionary overthrow of not just the anti-poor Buhari/Osinbajo government but also the inequitable capitalist system upon which it is based.
We call on the trade unions leaders to immediately intervene and return to the tradition by uniting the working class and oppressed people with demands that cut across all Nigerians affected by the anti-poor and neo-liberal policies of the Buhari/Osinbajo government.
We in the SPN support all genuine demands that bring working people and the poor together under a pan Nigerian movement to fight for a better life and end capitalism. We call on the leadership of trade unions and mass organizations to break away with the ruling class and build a working political alternative armed with socialist program that can end the capitalist crisis in Nigeria and the whole of Africa.
National Secretary, SPN