Nigeria: Buhari must go!

The Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI Nigeria) produced a special issue of its newspaper, Socialist Democracy, this week, as mass protests take place against repressive police and the Buhari government. Below is the text of the special October issue.

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#END SARS IS NOT ENOUGH

BUHARI MUST GO!

NO TO PDP, APC OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT OF LOOTERS

FOR A NEW GOVERNMENT COMPOSED BY ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF WORKERS, YOUTH AND THE OPPRESSED MASSES TO FIX NIGERIA

We Call On Rank and File Members of the Army, Police and Other Security Forces not to Fire on Peaceful Protesters. Join the Movement against the Murderous Anti-poor Regime which also Oppresses, Exploits and Debases You

We Call on the Mighty Working Class to Shake off the Stranglehold of its Corrupt Leadership that Refuses to Struggle and Enter into Battle by Declaring a 48 Hours General Strike and Mass Protests as a Starting Point of a Mass Uprising to Put an End to Capitalist Misrule.

Statement of the Youth Rights Campaign (YRC – youth platform of the DSM)

Since the first week of October, a mass movement of young people, backed by the enormous sympathy of the working class and other sections of the oppressed masses, has shaken Nigeria with daily protests and occupations of highways and public places across many states in the country. In the North, similar protests have taken place calling for an end to insecurity.

The #EndSARS movement which started as protests against police brutality has grown massively with millions coming out onto the streets. Now from a call for an end to SARS and its replacement SWAT, the protests’ demands are expanding rapidly with issues of unemployment, lack of quality education, corruption of the ruling elite, bad roads, fuel price and electricity tariff hike coming to the fore.

This powerful and magnificent movement, which has defied all negative predictions and expectations, is clearly a referendum on the Buhari capitalist regime which has failed over the past 5 years to transform hope into reality. The message from this movement is very clear: ORDINARY NIGERIANS ARE FRUSTRATED! THE YOUTH AND MASS MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO GO BACK FROM THIS PROTEST TO BEING RULED IN THE SAME WAY! THEREFORE, BUHARI AND HIS CAPITALIST GOVERNMENT MUST GO!

The reason for this is very simple. For a regime that was brought in to fix the destruction of the country for 16 years by the erstwhile ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the failure of the Buhari government is nothing but phenomenal. After over five (5) years, many are gnashing their teeth. The vast majority of the population are poorer today than when the Buhari All Progressive Congress (APC) government came to power in 2015, and this is not just a result of COVID. More people are out of jobs with youth unemployment at about 35%. More people are hungry, homeless and destitute. Even the twin evils of corruption and insecurity, which Buhari promised to end, continues to thrive and fester. On the basis of pro-rich and anti-poor capitalist policies, the Buhari government has thrown the economy into recession twice and burdened Nigeria with an enormous debt which succeeding generations may not fully repay in 30 years! As a result, the vast majority of the population wallow in miserable existence while a tiny few swim in an ocean of opulence.

Unequivocally, we of the Youth Rights Campaign (YRC) welcome this increasingly popular call on the Buhari government to immediately step down. This would be the most democratic thing to do. Only 18.45% per cent of the registered voters voted Buhari in the 2019 general elections. But when actual votes are considered, they show that only a tiny few voted for Buhari, 15.2 million, out of a population put at over 200 million. This means that by using the standard of capitalist democracy, there is no reason for the government to continue to stay in power given the huge numbers of the population which are now opposed to it. For instance, the youth are roughly 70% of the population and tens of millions of them have been on the street protesting since the first week of October. These millions of protesting youth are in turn supported by millions of workers and the vast majority of the urban and rural poor. We do not have to wait till 2023 general elections before the unmistakable voices of the vast majority of the populace asking Buhari to go are heard.

NO TO PDP, APC OR ANY GOVERNMENT OF LOOTERS! FOR A NEW GOVERNMENT OF WORKERS, YOUTH AND THE POOR TO REPLACE BUHARI

We say no to any government of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), APC or any other party of the corrupt ruling elite. Any government formed by these corrupt elements to replace the Buhari government will only continue the same or similar anti-poor capitalist policies that have ruined the vast majority of the population.

We call for a new government formed by elected representatives of workers, youth and the poor masses as well as pro-masses parties like the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) to replace the Buhari regime. Such a government must immediately pronounce the release of all arrested protesters and politically detained activists, journalists and citizens; while all political office holders and members of the capitalist ruling elite to be put in preventative detention in order to prevent them from conspiring to derail the revolution and to prevent them running off to enjoy looted funds. The Department of State Security (DSS) and the police as presently constituted should be disbanded and replaced by a civil police with better-paid personnel and under the control of communities. To secure an immediate improvement in the lives of most Nigerians, such a government will implement an emergency programme to reverse all anti-poor policies including fuel price hike and electricity tariff hike, the cancellation of tuition fees and charges in all schools and hospitals, introduce free and democratically-managed public education and health care at all levels, raise the national minimum wage from the miserly N30, 000 to N100, 000 and this also to be the wage of all officials of the new government, pay N50, 000 unemployment benefit etc.

To achieve all of the above progressive measures, such a government must take into public ownership the key sectors of the economy like the oil and gas, agriculture, banks and finance, mining and others under the democratic control and management of workers and the youth. This is necessary to ensure that the wealth of the country which would be needed to implement the above progressive measures is taken away from the stranglehold of the few rich and their imperialist masters who have been sitting atop and looting our collective wealth for 6 decades now.

If this is linked to a socialist plan of the economy, then for the first time it would be possible for the long-suffering and toiling workers, youth and poor of Nigeria to actually benefit from the wealth of their own country. Such a successful socialist revolution would be an inspiration to workers and youth across Africa who would waste no time in following the example of Nigeria. A series of similarly successful revolutions in other African countries will lay the basis for a democratic plan of the continents land, water and natural resources in a democratic socialist confederation of Africa for the purpose of ensuring stability, peace and progress on the continent.

THE WORKING CLASS MUST ENTER THE BATTLE WITH A GENERAL STRIKE

If the Buhari government refuses to hearken to the voice of the people by resigning, the YRC calls on the protesting youth and the poor masses to continue to protest and occupy until it is forced out. However, for this to happen, the mighty working class has to enter the battle. The youth are the light cavalry of the revolution while the working class is the revolution’s heavy battalion.

As a starting point, we need a 48 hours general strike and mass protest to shut down the economy, isolate the regime and break its backbone. After 48 hours, there should be democratic discussion between workers and protesting youth about whether to continue the general strike and escalate it to an indefinite shutdown or not depending on the balance of force.

If the rotten and corrupt leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) fail to call the strike, like they did last month, then workers should not hesitate to boot these reactionaries out of their positions and elect new militant leaders in their place to lead the strike. To organise the present struggle, strikes and action committees should be immediately formed to begin to mobilise the ranks of workers to enter battle with the bourgeoisie – the longstanding class enemy of workers in Nigeria and everywhere – and fundamentally change Nigeria. It is vital that the Nigerian workers, the parents of the protesting youth, do not abandon their children at the barricades. This historic hour demands that the working class stand at the head of the Nigerian revolution.

AS THE POLICE/MILTARY IS MOBILISED TO INTERVENE, SET UP NEIGHBOURHOOD ACTION COMMITTEES TO CONTINUE THE RESISTANCE

In Edo and Lagos States, curfew has been declared. Already in Abuja, the army and police have fired on protesters. Also in Lagos, the air force shot at protesters trying to occupy the airport. This means that in a situation of a curfew, we have to prepare for the possibility that the regime may want to drown the movement in blood.

In this situation, YRC calls on the revolutionary populace to set up barricades across the length and breadth of the country. Action committees, democratically formed and run with the participants of all active layers, should be set up to coordinate actions. As a first step, our policy towards the army and police sent to murder protesters is one of non-violence. At the barricades, we must talk to the army explaining to them why we are fighting and asking them to join forces with the revolutionary youth and workers to end the corrupt regime.

The soldiers have no reason to defend this murderous regime with their lives. This is a regime that also exploits and oppresses soldiers too including soldiers active against Boko Haram in the North East. The coming over of the rank and file of the army/police to the side of the struggle will further isolate the regime and hasten its collapse. However in case of repression by the army/police or outbreak of any ethnic and religious tensions, it would be necessary for the action committees to equally begin to discuss how to sustain the movement and defend the barricades against any onslaught. In this regard, the question of getting the practical means to defend the movement must therefore be urgently discussed as events develop.

CARDINAL DEMANDS:

  • Buhari must go. APC and PDP must go. For a new government composed of workers, youth and poor masses anchored on socialist policies

  • End SARS and SWAT. Justice for all victims of repression

  • Remove the IGP now! Remove the CP of Lagos and Oyo states!

  • For democratic control of the police and improvement in the wage and welfare of its personnel

  • End to unemployment. For decent jobs for all

  • For payment of unemployment benefit

  • For payment of N30, 000 minimum wage and a living wage to all

  • End jumbo, pay for political officeholders. Place all political officer holders on the national minimum wage. End life pension and security votes for political office holders

  • End to fuel price hike and the electricity tariff hike

  • End to underfunding of public education and healthcare. For free, functional and democratically managed public education and healthcare

  • An end to all anti-poor policies of privatisation, commercialisation and deregulation

  • For the release of all arrested protesters, journalists and activists and end to victimisation of activists

  • For the right of political parties to exist without INEC registration. For the right to independent candidacy.

  • Cancellation of the public debt. Arrest and detention of past and present regime officials for crimes against the Nigerian people

  • Public ownership of the key sectors of the economy under democratic workers control and management

  • A workers, youth and poor peoples’ government, based on socialist policies

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October 2020
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