For this, form Action Committees and Self Defense Units! No trust in the UN or the intervention of any foreign power!
Statement of the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (Nigerian Section of the RCIT), 27 October 2020, https://revolutionarysocialistvanguard.wordpress.com/
Nigeria is exhibiting torrents of the present global revolutionary period with sustenance of the END SARS protests which experienced a qualitative leap from protests against police brutality and justice for its victims, to a full blown anti-government uprising between October 17-19. In the days leading up to October 17th the demonstrations assumed a more localised and militant form when protesters and youth began calling for a stoppage of work in the following week. The on-going rampage and attack on police stations, government offices and establishments, prisons started at the same time.
While we do not encourage mob violence we say that the rampage of the masses is inevitable in a system where the people have been kept in utter penury for the pecuniary interests of the oligarchs and ruling class, especially at this point of economic crises where the ruling cwlass unleash anti-people and anti-democratic attacks as they turn to state bonapartism. It suffices to note that the streak of violence especially during the protests was initiated by the police after killing 4 protesters in Surulere, Lagos state and 3 others in Osogbo, Osun state. Some were also killed in Benin, Edo state; and many other states across the country prior to the Lekki Massacre of October 20.
Already before the people retaliated for the killings of 30 protesters in Lekki and other locations in Lagos by killing a total of 18 police officers the Nigerian government launched the repressive apparatus and armed thugs to disperse protesters. The failure of these coupled with the transformation of slogans from END SARS!/STOP POLICE BRUTALITY! to END BAD GOVERNANCE!/BUHARI MUST GO! forced the Buhari regime to deploy the army into the streets (Operation Crocodile Smile) in a coup plot to quash the protests on October 20. This was followed by a state wide curfew declared by Babajide Sanwoolu, the governor of Lagos state.
It is true that for the moment the protests have largely receded as Lekki toll gate maybe the only remaining bastion which may not last very long, (in fact some liberal/petty bourgeois forces take this as an end to the street demonstrations) and it is also true that the army and police must be defeated in the streets yet there are certain important questions raised by the past two weeks of protests which must not be left unresolved going forward.
A “LEADERLESS” MOVEMENT?
Large sections of the protesters and popular masses are averse to any form of leadership or coordination for the movement. This is understandable since the history of mass movements has been marred by betrayals of liberals/petty bourgeois and bureaucratic forces. It seems that the most recent betrayal of the NLC/TUC aristocrats on September 28 is still very fresh in the memory of many youths, but this is not the only reason as many left wing apologists and their organizations have operated on a sectarian bases making the masses second-guess the real intents of these forces hence the people display a heightened skepticism or even hostility which they believe will prevent the movement from being hijacked.
However it is impossible for a movement to be “leaderless”, a movement can at least have a bureaucratic/unofficial leadership which is NOT suitable in our opinion for a mass movement. The actual receding of the protests shows once and for all that the leadership is just a subjective factor in a movement while the objective factor is the rank and file of the popular masses, that is, with or without a leadership a movement can be vanquished but only the readiness and orientation of the masses can truly determine the success or failure of a movement.
Many leftists and centrist organizations succumb to the pressure for a leaderless movement and propagate such ideas instead of engaging the more advance layers on the need for a leadership to galvanize the demands into slogans and coordinate under the directive of the popular masses the next steps in the struggle. True, the masses must learn by experience but comrades must present arguments that will help them to arrive at the right conclusion from such experiences or ease the learning process but our leftists cannot claim that they want the masses to learn by experience because even now they devise numerous ridiculous arguments to support their populism of a leaderless movement.
We call for the constitution of action committees and self-defense units who will be democratically selected or elected at the protest grounds; in universities; work places and municipalities. Members of these committees shall be subject to recall and the committee to dissolution by the people if need be. In this light, we denounce all attempts to form state or national leaderships for the movement through online means or by picking popular figures or activists through online nomination forms. Hence we reject the Nigeria Coalition of Protest Groups/the Coalition of Protest Groups Across Lagos and Nigeria; they are petty bourgeois setups which are incapable of representing fully the interest of the masses!
AGAIN ON POLICE REFORMS
All those comrades who have advocated for a rise in the wages of police officers found themselves in a difficult position when police especially the highly praised Rapid Response Squad (RRS), a different police unit from SARS, dispersed protesters with tear gas and even beat some to a pulp at Alausa, Ikeja. For us, the essence of police is necessitated only by social inequality so that no amount of welfarism of police personnel can change the fundamental pro-elite nature of the force.
This is why we do not support the call for 100,000 naira minimum wage for police rather we reiterate that only reforms which weaken the police as a force like exempting police from youth communities such as schools and campuses; banning choke holds; and passing legislations that disallow police to enter protest grounds with guns or disperse protesters with tear gas, should be supported.
For us, only a planned economy under democratic control of the workers will be able to absorb the men and women currently in the police into the work force, albeit, the revolutionary upsurge which will bring about this may proceed with fissures and fractures in the ranks of the police and army. If this fissure is strong enough the ruling class may be forced to hire mercenaries or turn to other parastatals just like RRS was used to disperse End SARS protesters. Assuming these mercenaries have a temporary victory they become the new police, so the essence of police is pro-capitalist in nature.
Again we emphasize the importance of defeating the reactionary coup of the Buhari regime which means defeating the army and police and driving them away from the streets. This would naturally be done by mass mobilization and grassroots political education.
No trust in the intervention of the UN, AU, ECOWAS or this or that imperialist power! The mere fact that they must wait for 30 days before intervening is a testimony to their allegiance to the class enemy. Form instead international solidarity campaigns with other anti-government protesters in Thailand, Belarus, Hong Kong etc.
We want to be one Nigeria but we are not! Without the continual voluntary participation of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria as a country; without an end to the marginalization of one ethnic group in favour of the other by the strong men pulling the strings of the Nigerian state; lastly without a robust program that will guarantee the right of self-determination for discriminated ethnic/national minorities as well as regional/state autonomy and minority rights such as local languages in schools and other public institutions, slogans of “one Nigeria” are as empty as they are worthless.
Down with selection of so called influential personalities as representatives for the struggle! Thus we reject the Coalition of Protest Groups Across Lagos and Nigeria! Form action committees and self defense units through democratic elections in the neighborhoods, work places, universities, protests grounds etc. These action committees may combine to give regional and national leadership to the movement under the dictate of the popular masses.
Out with all transnational corporations! Nationalize the economic mainstay under the control of the workers and masses!
We call all mass organizations and campaigns workers and student unions, progressive parties, new campaigns, etc. to unite in organizing a general strike in order to bring down the Buhari regime.
Abolish the police! The only way to do this is to end capitalism!