The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) condemns the tragic attack on St. Francis Catholic Church Owo, Ondo State by yet-to-be-identified gunmen on Sunday 5 June 2022. We join Nigerians to mourn the scores who died while our hearts go to the injured. Even though crucial details are not yet clear, this is no doubt a terror attack meant to achieve a maximum number of casualties and spread terror and panic. We demand an immediate investigation to unmask the perpetrators and ensure their speedy arrest so they can face justice.
Unfortunately, no section of the capitalist ruling class nor governments formed by them can be trusted to do any serious and diligent investigation as they are usually complicit in the orgy of ethnic and religious violence, criminal banditry, and Islamic insurgency which has taken hold across the country. It is a known fact for instance that the Buhari regime has been inept and nonchalant despite the daily orgy of atrocities by killer herders, killings, and kidnapping by bandits and unknown gunmen.
Also in preparation for the 2023 general elections, there has been a spike in ethnic tension as capitalist politicians invoke divisive identities to push for their self-serving interests. In the South East, as well as different parts of the country, private armies are sprouting up obviously funded or having the backing of capitalist political players whose agenda does not genuinely correspond with the needs and aspirations of the working people and poor. Against this background, we call on the labor movement to take the initiative by setting up a democratic probe panel to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the tragic attack in Owo and similar attacks across the country in order to unmask those behind it. This, however, has to be linked with a programme by the labour movement to unite the working people and youth across the country to take their destinies into their hands and fight for a new Nigeria free of the kind of barbaric violence that has become the order of the day. Suffice to stress that such a new Nigeria is only possible with the coming to power of a workers’ and poor people’s government armed with socialist policies.
According to reports, as many as 40 people may have lost their lives to the tragic attack while many more are injured. We call on the Ondo State government and the President Buhari-led Federal government to provide free and adequate medical and specialist care for all those injured, as well as adequate compensation to families of the dead. We warn against the usual practice whereby government immediately responds to take care of victims of a tragedy but thereafter abandons them soon after when media and public attention appear to have shifted to other issues.
No doubt, the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo in Ondo State is one tragedy too many and it follows a litany of tragic attacks which have taken place in different parts of the country over the past few weeks. For instance, just two days ago, on Saturday 4 June 2022, a Catholic priest was abducted by unknown gunmen in Kogi State. In the same vein, a Methodist prelate, Bishop Samuel Kanu-Uche, was kidnapped a few days ago in Abia State and was only released following payment of a princely ransom of N100 million. Also about two months ago, precisely on 28 March 2022, an audacious attack was carried out by bandits against an Abuja-Kaduna train leading to the killing of at least eight passengers and abduction of about 168 others, a majority of whom are still in captivity today. This is aside from the daily orgy of violence, killing, and abductions in the southeast whose source is not clear. As we write, another attack by suspected Boko Haram insurgents is being reported to have taken place on Monday 6 June 2022 at Lawan Mainari village, near Mainok, along Damaturu-Maiduguri road in Borno State.
There is no other way to describe all these tragic developments other than an ascendance of barbarism. Nigeria is clearly a failing State. Suffice to warn that things will continue to get worse for as long as Nigeria remains under the grip of the APC, PDP, and other anti-poor capitalist parties whose rapacious looting, anti-poor policies, and mobilization of ethnic and religious sentiments in their desperate competition for political power in the forthcoming 2023 general elections could be responsible for the rise in ethnic tension and violence across the country. It is clear that the 2023 elections will not provide relief, all the major parties allowed to stand do not challenge the system. Indeed the huge amounts of money being spent on buying nomination papers and bribing delegates at party conferences shows that the existing parties are really machines to let looters get into office. This is why it is necessary for the labour movement to come to the fore and unite the working people and youth around a common agenda of struggle. This is necessary both to defend the immediate economic and political interests of the working people and also to ensure unity and solidarity across ethnic and religious lines.
Therefore, the silence of the leadership of labour has become intolerable. For far too long, labour has taken the position of spectator while the obdurately corrupt capitalist ruling elite and their imperialist collaborators are running Nigeria into chaos and catastrophe. Without the working masses taking their destiny into their own hands, Nigeria will never get better. Rather Nigeria risks a violent disintegration if it continues to maintain its present course. This is why labour has to step up now. In this wise, the DSM calls on the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to organize a one-day general strike and nationwide mass protest as a starting point of a series of mass actions to express the disapproval of workers and the poor masses of Nigeria towards the orgy of violence going on in Nigeria and the gross ineptitude of the President Buhari-led APC government. This also has to be linked with raising demands on the high cost of living, lack of jobs, poverty, anti-poor policies, attacks on democratic rights, and other crises facing workers and the poor.
In the immediate, the masses obviously need practical measures to defend themselves in the face of the daily orgy of violence and the complete ineptitude, and in some cases complicity, of the police, army, and other security agencies. Even if there are state police, without democratic control by working people and communities, in the final analysis, they will be used by the corrupt capitalist elite in the different states who are no better than the ruling elite at the federal level, for their self-serving interest including attacks on democratic rights and repression of dissent. We also oppose vigilantes without democratic control from communities. No matter how well-intentioned, they risk becoming new terror in the future. Instead, we call for the democratic formation of united and non-sectarian defense committees, armed where necessary, to take up practical measures of defense and security subject to the democratic control of the entire community.
Most importantly, the tragic attack in Owo, Ondo State, and the worsening state of insecurity across the country demonstrate the urgency in the Nigerian situation and the need for the building of a mass party of the working people with bold socialist programmes to take political power, end capitalism and enthrone a democratic Socialist Nigeria under which the commanding heights of the economy will be placed under democratic workers control and management in order to ensure Nigeria’s wealth benefits the mass majority of the people and a democratic solution found to the National Question.
- For United Actions of the Working People and Youth to Protest Failure of Government to Protect Lives and Halt the Barbaric Violence Across the Country.
- Continuous Rule of the APC, PDP and Other Capitalist Parties is Equal to Endless Horror and Tragedy; for a Mass Workers Political Alternative Now!