On the occasion of the first anniversary of the #EndSARS protest, the Youth Rights Campaign (YRC) salute all radical youth who stood against police brutality and state repression, last October, as well as those who have continued to resist repression since then. As a report by the Guardian newspaper reveals, hundreds of youths arrested around the End SARS movement are still being held without trial in prisons. The YRC calls for their immediate and unconditional release as well as all political detainees.
YRC is a youth platform formed by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) to organize young people to fight all oppression, demand adequate funding of public education and gainful employment and to put an end to capitalism alongside all anti-poor policies. Only the socialist reconstruction of Nigerian society can meet the needs and yearnings of the youth as well as workers and the poor masses. This is the final goal of the YRC.
The youth are the light Calvary of the social revolution. The #EndSARS protest last year has proven this beyond doubt. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), while the unemployment rate in Nigeria is at a shocking 33.3 per cent, the youth unemployment rate is much worse at 53.40 per cent (as at the fourth quarter of 2020!). In marking the anniversary of this struggle, the YRC call for more concerted effort of all radical youth groups, students’ movements, Socialists and the labour movement to fight police brutality, get justice for victims, campaign for employment for all and resist all anti-poor and pro-rich policies of the Buhari capitalist government.
#ENDSARS: 13 Days That Shook Nigeria!
October 2020 will go down in history as a month of revolt. It was the month Nigerian youth took the wheel of history, rolling it with the aim of opening a new page. While a new page of history was not opened, the days of protest secured their place in our historical annals. On October 7, 2020, a movement of youth began a movement that would shake the entire country for 13 days. Nigerian youths took the path of struggle.
The protest was against the brutality of men of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), a special unit of the Nigerian Police Force initially formed to combat robbery and crimes but has taken to committing crimes and robbing innocent youths. The protest forced the Nigerian government to announce the dissolution of SARS. But despite this concession, police brutality and all forms of attacks on democratic rights have continued over the past year. This includes regular attacks on the rights to protest by falsely using the unfortunate but state-inspired violence and destruction that followed the #EndSARS protest as an excuse to outlaw protest.
REPRESSION: LEKKI TOLLGATE SHOOTING
An important aspect of the movement that we must not forget is the brutal repression unleashed on protesters by the Buhari capitalist government and state governments in order to quell the #EndSARS protest. They initially deployed thugs armed with cudgels, machetes and knives. This was the case at Alausa in Lagos, Osun, Abuja and other cities much before October 20, 2020. When these did not deter the protesters, the state moved in the police and army.
The reason for this repression is that the regime is aware of the rising anger and despair in the country. The ruling class feared that End SARS could provoke a national movement, even uprising, on the scale of January 2012 that would challenge their looting and rule.
October 20 2020 marked the day the protest of the youth was drenched in blood. But while the Lekki tollgate killings took place in Lagos, the attack became a turning point for the nationwide mass movement as a whole. To prepare for the bloodbath, the Lagos state government hurriedly declared a curfew at short notice. This was followed by the deployment of the military who unleashed hell on harmless protesters.
Since then, Nigerians have been treated to comical show trials set up by the same killer government to investigate the killings. For months now, very little if anything has been achieved by the panels to get justice for the victims of Lekki shooting and victims of state repression in general across the country. For us in the YRC, we believe that it is only a democratic and open panel comprising representatives of workers’ unions, human rights organization, Socialists, NBA, NMA etc. that can begin the process towards justice.
Police brutality can reduce if there is a struggle but it cannot be defeated without also defeating the brutal and exploitative capitalist system. This is because, in the final analysis, the police and the army are instruments of class oppression. Once again, the youth need to wake up to this reality and begin to take the path of struggle, not just against police brutality but also against the economic brutalities like mass unemployment and public education underfunding created by the capitalist system and the class representing it.
Following the failure of the various panels to give justice, we now need to build a mass campaign to fight for justice for the victims of #ENDSARS clampdown and police brutality. Such a mass campaign must avoid the mistake of the #EndSARS struggle by building a democratic and accountable leadership. One of the limitations of the #EndSARS struggle was its hostility to the idea of leadership due to the youth experience of the unprincipled labour leadership, as well as the corrupt leadership of the bourgeois political parties in the country. Such a mass campaign must also fight for gainful employment for all, unemployment benefits for youth as well adequate funding of public education.
This means challenging the rotten regime and fighting for a way out, not only fighting corruption but also the very capitalist system which suffers repeated crises and does not allow the development of society in Nigeria or internationally. To achieve this, there is a need to build a mass political movement to struggle for political power. But this movement or party has to be based on a programme and idea that supports and guarantees the provision of basic needs of youths and working masses, not just on the basis of being youthful.
Therefore, we call on the change-seeking young people to join in building the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) as an alternative to pro-capitalist parties and support the campaign calling on the labour movement to assist in creating a mass party of workers and youth with a socialist program to wrest political power in order to replace the oppressive and exploitative system of capitalism with a socialist system through a socialist revolution.
- Justice for October 2020 – EndSARS
- Protesters and all Victims of Police Brutality and State Repression
- Release all #EndSARS protesters still in detention as well as all political detainees
- Fight State Repression! End Capitalism! For a Democratic and Socialist Nigeria!
(Leaflet issued by Youth Rights Campaign (YRC), a youth platform formed by the Democratic Socialist Movement, on the anniversary of the #ENDSARS Movement in Nigeria)