Nigeria: Against State Repression!


For a Mass-based Alternative To The Pandemic! Cancel All Local and National Debt!


Statement of the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (RSV), Nigeria [Sympathizing section of the Revolutionary Communists International Tendency (RCIT)], 8th April, 2020.




There is now an unprecedented rise in cases of state aggression especially by the army since the 14 day lock down declared by president Muhammad Buhari (PMB). These attacks range from arbitrary whippings of pedestrians on the streets to shootings of unarmed resistant civilians as there are already reports of violent clashes between residents of Warri, Delta state and soldiers which resulted in the death of one person.


Also a prison protest broke out after the Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said the government had decided to decongest the prisons to prevent further spread of the virus raising the hopes of the inmates for parole. This follows the hospitalization and alleged demise of a female inmate from the virus which raised panic levels to an all time high but afterwards instead of parole as expected by the inmates their only meaningful source of survival was cut when they were denied access to visiting family and friends; this served as the final tipping point which sparked the protest that claimed the lives of 5 inmates. [1]


Domestic and gender based violence have seen an upward spike in like manner not only in Nigeria but globally. To quote from an article by Almedina Gunic an international Gender Equality activist:


“In South Africa gender-based violence has been reported 87,000 times since the beginning of the lockdown. The number of reported cases have jumped up by 36 percent in Paris and 32 percent elsewhere in France. At least 6 femicides have already taken place under the lockdown in Argentina and 14 in Turkey. These are just a few examples for a worldwide phenomenon which is nothing else but a dangerous threat to the health and lives of us women.”[2]


The crux of this hike in gender based violence in Nigeria is the abduction, torture and rape of Elizabeth Oyeniyi by Abdulmumuni Danga, the Commissioner for Water Resources in Kogi state. He did this using the state apparatus available to enforce the lock down and in response to the expression of Elizabeth’s dissatisfaction, on Facebook, over his eye service distribution of relief materials.[3] It is ironical that a politician who was distributing relief materials would molest and sexually harass a mother of one because of a Facebook post.


The narratives above makes it crystal clear that the clashes are due to, on the one hand, the failure of the Buhari regime to provide relief materials such as food, money and medical products during the forced lock down and on the other, the worthless busybody and noise making of the regime to feign proactiveness towards the COVID-19 pandemic. The ravaging hunger already widespread in the poverty capital of the world assumes a more excruciating effect during the lock down, hence day labourers and petty traders must find a means to survive. Even when average Nigerians rise with some sort of violent resistance the response from state forces is excessive. This kind of brutish disproportionate response can discourage future prospects of coordinated resistance against the lock down, nevertheless, the aggressive action from state security forces will birth a larger and more explosive reaction from the people.


Also the ruling class need a conducive bonapartist atmosphere to silently execute attacks which serve as a shift in the manner of capitalism they practice so as to retain their hegemony that was largely threatened by the specter of anti-governments protests all around the world last year. Although the draconian measures now being taken have the sole potential to do serious damage to the economy, these measures will only worsen the odds in an already crumbling economy.


As a reference, Nigeria as well as other African countries are currently in a debt crises. According to an article on Premium Times Nigeria;


Nigeria runs a deficit budget. For example, Nigeria runs a deficit budget of N1.92 trillion and N2.18 trillion in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Thus, heavy budget servicing makes the fiscal stance more vulnerable and detrimental to both domestic and external shocks…. “According to BudgIT 2019 report, Nigeria’s revenue is at a shameful level, as the current debt servicing level hits over 60 per cent relative to 22.5 per cent threshold given by World Bank; which means for every N100 earned by the government, N60 is used for debt servicing, leaving the government with N40.”[4]


“Rising public debt continues to be a cause for concern in Nigeria. According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), the total external debt stands at $27.16 billion, while Domestic debt climbs to $56.72 billion. Nigeria’s debt profile reaches $83.88 billion in H1 2019. (Pulse NG).”[5]


As can be seen, even without the outbreak of COVID-19 the standard of living of an average Nigerian is already gravely threatened by degeneracy in the economy as implied by the debt status. Moreso, this degeneracy is not peculiar to Nigeria but is a general feature of the current phase of the capitalist system all around the world. Hence Nigerian capitalist syndicates must import the measures which imperialism has adopted to save its rule. We also state that the lock down measures will intensify harsh adverse developments which will ensue from the next great depression.


Consequent upon this Nigerians should expect attacks in form of austerity packages, wage cuts, mass retrenchments. The general manager of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corperation (NNPC) has already indicated the complete removal of subsidy for petroleum products.[6] The IPPIS scheme is being strengthened now more than before and the government has refused to pay lecturers’ salaries for almost 2 months.


The real fear should not be the virus, the real fear should be the aftermath of the constitution of a bonapartist state regime in a time of economic chaos and financial insolvency which might be far worse than the great depression of 1929. We can already see that instead of providing the relief materials for people they have resorted to bullying the masses with the state machinery, sometimes to the point of death.


We cannot let up even an inch of trust to the ruling elite and the Buhari/APC led government. The popular masses must take the helms of affairs in every respect if we are to solve the crises of the pandemic and every other crises! Down with the police state! For joint action of the labour movements and popular masses to expand the health sector! Down with the capitalist regimes! Onward to socialism!