Posts

September 21 and Unity in the Nigeria Labor Movement

Image
“A tale of two September 21s” was what first came to my mind as a title for this article (and I still see it as an alternative title). I intended to trace out the similarities and differences in the significance of two events, which in different ways affected the two main components of the labor movement in Nigeria. First was September 21, 1974, when internment led to the unity of the trade union movement . Despite repression, infiltration, self-serving momentary splits, and attempts at state incorporation, the spirit of unity that emerged that day has remained alive. The second was September 21, 2005, when the death of a leading revolutionary socialist and civil society activist inspired efforts at uniting the socialist movement . After five years during which the initiative atrophied, it became clear that it had failed. It was, however, probably the longest-running attempt at establishing an alliance of the left. There are lessons to draw from this understudied period of our re

Eddie Madunagu; a revolutionary in truth and in deed

Image
Eddie Madunagu is undoubtedly one of the most profound and insightful socialist thinkers and publicists in Nigeria’s history. His books such as The Tragedy of the Nigerian Socialist Movement and Problems of Socialism: The Nigerian Challenge¸ which were published some four decades back present us with some of the clearest analysis of the situation of the radical and revolutionary Left in that period, probably much more sharply than any other book. Over the following decades, Comrade Eddie continued with analyses of the left and the society which we want to change. His column every Thursday was the sole reason why I bought The Guardian for most of the 1990s. It must be stressed, as many have done and will continue to do, that Eddie has not only been a theorist. He has, along with his soul mate Bene, contributed to some of the most sustained efforts at building left organisations and united fronts. They have also contributed significantly to critical thinking for new generations of

#EndSARS and the structural basis of police brutality in Nigeria

Image
Scores of thousands of young people took to the streets across Nigeria in October 2020, to protest police brutality. Their primary demand was for government to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an elite and particularly vicious unit of the Nigeria Police Force. This mass movement was thus defined as EndSARS. It was sparked when the video of a young man who was allegedly killed by SARS operatives in Ughelli, a small city in the Niger Delta region went viral on 3 rd October. There were over twenty-eight million tweets and retweets of the video and calls for protest within three days. In Ughelli and neighbouring towns there were immediate spontaneous actions by aggrieved youth. By 8 th October, hundreds of protesters set up camp in front of the Lagos State House of Assembly in Nigeria’s most populous city and its commercial hub as well as in the city centre of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. Within a few days, these numbers had increased to thousands and demonstration

We Must Stop “Vaccine Apartheid” to Defeat COVID-19 Globally

Image
The Coronavirus public health emergency became considered a pandemic on 11 March 2020. The pandemic has highlighted and worsened global health and social inequalities. Poor working-class people have been most affected in different parts of the world. By the beginning of February, there had been 106m recorded cases and at least 2.32m. The United States, India, Brazil, and Britain are the most affected countries. A second wave which started by the end of 2020 has been particularly debilitating with at least four variants which are more transmissible. Most political commentators expected developing countries, particularly those in Africa to be the most affected. This was because the public healthcare system is in shambles on the continent and poverty (with millions of people living closely together in slums) is so widespread. But for reasons which are not yet clear, this has luckily not been the case. But all the same there have been more than 3.5m reported cases and almost 90,000 d

Remembering Comrade Ola Oni (6/6/1933 - 22/12/1999)

Image
Today makes it twenty-one years since Comrade Ola Oni passed on. He was one of the greatest leaders and teachers on the Nigerian Left, from the '60s till his death. He, along with Eskor Toyo, Baba Omojola and others split from the Socialist Workers and Farmers Party in Augsut 1964 (i.e., a year and four months after SWAFP was formed) to form the Nigeria Labour Party under the leadership of Michael Imoudu (Labour Leader #1). Both SWAFP and the NLP would be smashed by the military juntas (first of General Aguinyi Ironsi's for just 6 months but more so by General Yakubu Gowon's which lasted 9 years), as all partisan formations were repressed. But the tendency they had formed would continue in different forms (as well as SWAFP's till the early '90s) till the early 2000s. With elections on the horizons for the establishment of a Second Republic in 1979, a series of two All-Nigeria Socialist Conferences were organised in 1977 and 1978, with the primary aim of formin

On the 1st Pro-democracy Conference & the 1998 Democratic Alternative Convention: setting the record straight

Image
First, I wish to commend Social Action and AFRICMIL for initiating the annual “pro-democracy conference” series. I do believe, like many activists, that these conferences provide us opportunity to reflect on our collective past (in the struggle against military dictatorship) and present, towards enriching our perspectives on what is to be done, towards conquering the battle for democracy. It has thus within just a few years become probably the most important vehicle for inter-generational discourse on past, present and future of pro-democratic struggles in Nigeria. Such reflections which the discourse entails for us to draw lessons from our past and formulate ideas for our future battles, does naturally involve debates. And debates, particularly on our recent history would of course encompass (different) interpretations of what and what transpired and the significance of these. The 1 st conference which was held in 2018 was, I gathered, one which involved heated debates on what tra