Form Armed Workers and Peasant Militia to Defend the Northern People But No “Anti-terrorist” or “Security” Collaboration with State Forces!
Statement of the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (RSV) [Nigerian Section of the RCIT], 07-12-2020, http://www.revolutionarysocialistvanguard.wordpress.com
1. As is widely known dozens of peasant farmers were butchered by the armed Islamist group, Boko Haram in Zabarmari village of Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, on 28th November. Dozens other were kidnapped on the same day. This group alongside its 2016 splinter ISWAP, is responsible for the death of 30,000 Nigerians (other sources put the number at 36,000) and the displacement of over 2 million people in the Northern part of the country since 2009. The attack of Saturday was not the first but the one with the highest number of civilian casualties this year as insurgence in Northern Nigeria is fast becoming a norm. To mention only the most recent events similar to this, the convoy of the Borno state governor has been attacked twice in the past couple of months. Beyond the insurgency of Boko Haram/ISWAP the security status of the nation has plumb new depths and still does so with alarming speeds with the Northern part of the country being the hot spot for more or less organized form of armed raids;
“bandits armed with guns move from house to house to harass and extort money and food from hapless people. Armed bandits go to markets to make transactions. They sack villages unchallenged. They kill farmers on their farms like what happened in Zabarmari in the northeast. In recent times, a number of farmers have been killed by bandits in Katsina State, the home state of the President. Some local government areas in the state are reportedly more of ungoverned spaces than secure parts of the polity. Similar heart-rending stories are told about Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna and other states in the zone.”
“The sad stories of farmers being levied by bandits as a condition to return to their farms are told by Nigerians as if these are normal things. Nigerians seem to be losing their sense of outrage at horrific news. Major highways and inter-state roads all over the country have become extremely unsafe due to the activities of kidnappers and armed robbers. Even policemen have been reportedly kidnapped by the criminals. The impunity is such that payment of ransom is freely advertised. In a number of incidents, policemen and soldiers have been killed like the people they are supposed to protect. Any honest survey of the security situation will show that no part of Nigeria is really safe. While farmers are killed by bandits in the villagers, city dwellers are kidnapped for ransom by criminals. You can only talk of the relative enormity of the problem as you move from one state to the other.”
2. So to add to the long list of armed insurgents of northern Nigeria which include Boko Haram, ISWAP, Fulani herdsmen are the so called Bandits. Even if the characterization of these groups are hardly the same there still lies serious profound connections that has led to their collective or individual emergence. For instance, though there could have been some changes in the component or sponsors of Boko Haram, it was founded by Mohammed Yusuf, a Muslim scholar and a kind of local/regional elite. In like manner, the pockets of bandits, or other armed insurgents have a core consisting of some sort of strongman/strongmen, just as killer herdsmen are often times nomads in the service of some northern oligarch. Armed herdsmen have been known to attack people of the Middle Belt specifying a different ethnicity cum religion, so has the other groups mentioned above to varying degrees and at different times attacked people of different tribes or ethno-religious descent such as people from other regions; Christians or even ethnic minorities in the north. Also, the rise of strongmanist groups and hordes of bandits is engendered by the prolonged activities not only of larger armed groups like Boko Haram and ISWAP but also of Hisbah, Myetti Allah and other pro-Sharia Islamist groups in Nigeria. Hence the question of armed insurgency in Nigeria cuts across class, national and religious lines.
3. The growing perception is that for these armed groups, especially Boko Haram/ISWAP, to have lasted for so long (since 2009) the Nigerian government is in cahoots with them. In fact in the past Gen Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sympathies for Islamic insurgency and the Islamic caliphate which suggests that he might in one way or the other be in league with BH/ISWAP irrespective of his recent verbal reactions to the attacks. It is true that the Buhari regime and the Nigerian ruling class are complicit in the sustenance of the activities of these groups but such complicity takes many forms. More so, those forms have varying consequences which must be properly understood if revolutionaries must formulate correct positions concerning the present ordeal. First, it is simpler to comprehend that the Nigerian government for decades has through its neo-liberal policies which have translated to abject poverty and feudal backwardness in the Northern region been culpable in the rise of such groups as the foot soldiers of these armed insurgents are mostly paupers from the lowest rung of society. So their fight is in a way against the present system.
4. As a poorly industrialized semi-colony or a neo-colony, unemployment, poverty, female subjugation are consequences of deliberate policies meant to keep the country underdeveloped for the super exploitation of imperialist nations. However the inner mechanisms of the execution of these policies require the sustenance of some Islamist hegemony or the preservation of a kind of oligarchy functioning under the auspices of some feudal aristocracy with strong religious (Islamist) inclinations. In short, the democratic cum national struggle is far from complete. Under such conditions the people are subjugated to the rule of the native bourgeoisie who in turn serve the imperialists. So we have the case of a faction of the Northern power elite with more or less strong sympathy for extreme Islamism while at the same time the Nigerian government which is strongly represented by the Northern bourgeoisie oscillates between the fight against the armed groups and making concessions to them for without some elements of Islamist tight grip they cannot control the North. Albeit, this Islamist forces must not be left unrestrained as they pose the threat of upsetting the mode of extraction of super-profits for the imperialist nations (which can mean a long period of hostility towards the imperialists) or they may even replace the ruling elite so that they now have direct contact with or are directly controlled by the imperialists.
5. In this light, the observations of other political analysts become clear when they say that Boko Haram and its other splinters serve either the partisan interest of APC against PDP or vice-versa meaning that ruling class factions not in government tend to be more friendly or even give material aide to the terrorists as a political tool against their opponents. Only that when they take power they are constrained to serve the imperialists and play ball with factions of the ruling class from the South failing to advance the cause of the extremists as they may have promised. In a nutshell, the peculiar backwardness in the Northern region is what serves best imperialist interests as long as the relative balance of forces between the Islamists and the Nigerian government does not see a qualitative change. This is further confirmed by the rather unenthusiastic contributions of the imperialists to the so-called fight against terrorism in Nigeria as opposed to how it is done in Iraq and now Syria. The minister for information even blames the continued existence of these armed groups on what he calls the refusal of world powers to sell weapons to the Nigerian government. 
6. Of course, there can exist circumstances in which revolutionaries side with or form a military alliance with armed anti-government/anti-imperialist forces while, at the same time, not giving their reactionary leaderships political approval.* We see such conditions today in Syria, Afghanistan or Somalia. However, such conditions do not exist currently in Nigeria. The policy of BH/ISWAP is thoroughly reactionary and anti-popular. BH/ISWAP rather serve one or another faction of the ruling class or is in alliance with counterrevolutionary Takfiri ISIS. Revolutionaries must refuse any kind of support or any alliance with these forces. Likewise, no support or alliance with the army and other state forces is permissible. The workers and masses must form independent armed militias to defend themselves (Christians, people of other religions, ethnic minorities, oppressed nationalities) from attacks and undue aggression from them.
7. No real success can be gotten from efforts to defeat political Islamism without first destroying the imperialist tight-grip on Nigeria respectively demolishing the native servants of imperialism—the Nigerian capitalists. In this regard, even if BH/ISWAP is vanquished by the Nigerian state this would most likely occur by the intervention of an imperialist power, as it is there are already indications that the Buhari regime will turn to Chinese imperialism for help against Jihadi extremists meaning they wish to begin the cycle again without solving the economic basis of the problem instead worsening it. BH/ISWAP are products of the deterioration of British colonial policy which granted independence on the basis that Nigeria will remain subservient to Western imperialism so long as the north is kept stagnated so that it can continue to oppress other regions. Hence we reject all anti-terrorist intervention of any Great Power, be it US or Chinese imperialism. At this juncture it becomes imperative to state that all calls to replace the service chiefs barely scratches the surface of the problem and they constitute populism for all those left-wing forces supporting the call. Even the National Assembly’s call for this is due to the international outrage sparked by the killings not a genuine desire for change.
8. Revolutionaries intransigently oppose all forms of tribalist policy. We fight for the unity of the workers and poor peasants across tribal and national lines. However, this does not mean that we consider the current borders of African states – which often have been drawn up by colonial powers – as sacrosanct. We support the largest possible unity of all national, ethnical and tribal groups within and across the current borders of Africa. At the same time, we insist that such a unity must take place – indeed, it is only sustainable – if it is based on voluntary agreement by all sides and if it includes full equality (e.g. cultural, language rights). Such a perspective can only be realized if the workers and poor peasants succeed in liberating the continent from the grip of imperialist powers, overthrow the capitalist class and open the road to a socialist future! In other words, self-determination and equality can only be achieved by creating the United Socialist States of Africa.
9. We are against the killing of innocents, hence, we strongly condemn the massacre of the rice farmers in Zabamari and call for the defeat of BH/ISWAP by armed militia of the workers and popular masses. But no “anti-terrorist” or “security” collaboration with the henchmen of imperialism in Nigeria—police and Army. A warning: no illusion should be had that armed insurgencies are restricted to the north as the same economic conditions that enabled BH/ISWAP is very much prevalent in the Middle belt, SW, SE and SS but these insurgents may not come under a religious cloak. In the final analysis what is missing is a truly international Revolutionary Socialist Party that will fight imperialism on the international level and capitalism on the national scale. Such a party is what the RSV and our international organization the RCIT is fighting for!
* For a popular insurrection to bring down the Buhari regime! Authentic revolutionaries must form with the popular masses sincere progressives, trade unionists a publicly governed workers and peasant armed militia to defeat the capitalist regime in Abuja and defend the Northern people!
* No joint effort with police and Army to “fight terrorism”! Remember these are the terrorists who killed 37 protesters in Lekki and others throughout the country!
* For an end to Sharia Law! Release with immediate effect and without condition Bala Mubarak, Aminu Sharif and all persons arrested or detained by Sharia courts. Free all persons imprisoned & cancel all sentences imposed by Sharia Law! Drop all charges against El-Zakzaky and all detained Shi’ites!
* For a national/ethnic program in which all ethnic groups/nations will have the right to self-determination and freedom of cultural expression through language, association!
* For a food and housing program for the poor, homeless and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) in the North and all over Nigeria. This program must be funded with the taxes of the rich. Occupy all unused estates and edifices of the rich!
* Fund education and healthcare properly with at least 26% and 15% of the budgetary allocation. Expropriate the big private firms in the oil and energy industry. Put the commanding heights of the economy and the big banks under workers and popular control. For a democratically controlled nationwide employment program planned and determined by the workers and popular masses!
* For an international Revolutionary Workers Party! This is what the RCIT is fighting for! Join the RCIT!
* In paragraph 6 we add as an aside that it is immaterial if BH/ISWAP is being giving material support or funding from this or that strongman; or this or that opposition party or even international Jihadist like ISIS or any other pro-Islamist government. What is important is their concrete role in concrete situations.