2019 congress of the Nigerian Marxists

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Comrade Rashy, 19 June 2019


18 comrades from Lagos, Ibadan and Ekiti gathered at the Digital Bridge Institute, Cappa, Lagos state, on Saturday and Sunday 15-16 June for the national congress of the Campaign for Workers’ and Youth Alternative – the Nigerian section of International Marxist Tendency (IMT). Comrades arrived with a lot of enthusiasm, which reflected the radical change in the situation in the country.

World perspectives

The first day of the congress was opened by comrade GOK. He started by welcoming all the comrades present at the congress. He also read out solidarity messages from different sections of the IMT, from Sweden to the United States; Britain to France; Greece to Germany, and from Spain to Venezuela. Each of these messages was received with great enthusiasm by all the comrades.

The first session of the congress was on World Perspectives, which was led-off on by Comrade Hamid from the IS of the IMT. He started by saying that the capitalist system worldwide is in a very deep crisis. He pointed out that, a few years back, discussion on the world perspectives would cover a limited number of countries, but now all countries are going through deep crises. The mood is one of discontent, anger and frustration everywhere. 11 years after the financial crash of 2008, the crisis is far from over and every attempt by the bourgeois to restore the economy back to equilibrium only results in political and social disequilibrium. He stated that there is a general change in consciousness in every country, including the most advanced capitalist countries like the USA. According to him, the USA, which used to produce more than 50 percent of world GDP, is now producing around 20 percent – the weight of the US in the world economy has fallen. At the same time, the standard of living for the vast majority of American workers has fallen. This has resulted in a radical change in consciousness. He stated that the American dream is dead and has now been replaced by the American nightmare. According to him, this change in consciousness was reflected by the rise in popularity of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 US election and the final victory of Donald Trump, who opportunistically tapped into the general mood of anger and discontent prevalent in the American society. He also stated that this sudden change in consciousness has reflected in the growth of Democratic Socialist of America (DSA), a left group that orientates towards the Democratic party and which has grown in the past few years as a result of the general radicalisation in society.

He then proceeded to speak extensively on the situation in Europe. He stated that the Brexit phenomenon in the UK was another example of the mood of anger and frustration that exists everywhere. According to him, those who were most shocked by the result of the referendum were the advocates of Brexit themselves, because they did not imagine they could win, and therefore had no plan and no strategy. He stated that this change in consciousness has also reflected in the massive growth of the British Labour Party through the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Party leader. The party is now the biggest in Europe.

He subsequently moved to Greece, where after decades of austerity and suffering, nothing has been solved. The Greek workers seem to be exhausted after many years of strikes and protests. They are completely disappointed in the parties they trusted. The Pasok and Syriza seriously disappointed them. This mood, according to him, is of a transitory character and will not last forever. The intensity of the crisis is such that workers and youth will have no alternative but to return to the struggle.

In Italy, he explained that the Five Stars Movement (M5S) emerged fill the vacuum created by the collapsed of traditional mass organisations, like the Italian Communist party (PCI). He stated that the slogan of M5S, “Kick them all out”, connected with the mood of anger and frustration that exists everywhere.

He also spoke extensively on the situation in Africa. He began by drawing lessons from the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions, and spoke on the Algerian Revolution of 2019 that led to the fall of Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He also spoke on how the change in consciousness has led to the increase in the electoral fortunes won by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in South Africa in the last elections, at the expense of the ANC. This is because of the EFF’s radical programme of land expropriation without compensation, among other things. He also stated that the reason why the new Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) – a party that was formed by the biggest trade union in South Africa – won a very insignificant vote share was because there was no serious campaign by the NUMSA leadership. According to him, had it been that the NUMSA leaders made a clear and energetic campaign based on the party’s socialist programme, the situation would have been different.

He also spoke extensively on the Sudanese Revolution. The revolution began in December 2018 as a result of the government of Al-Bashir removing the subsidy on basic goods. Unable to stop the revolutionary movement, the army intervened, ousting Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power for the past 27 years. By reforming from the top, the army hoped to prevent a revolution from below. But the Sudanese people have learned a lot from the Arab Spring in 2011. Many of them said that they do not want the military to come to power and steal their revolution like in Egypt. Hamid said, unfortunately, this heroic movement of the Sudanese people is being led by leaders who do not know how to lead the movement to victory. The Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) no doubt, has proven resolute in the face of repression, but vague in its demands. The SPA leaders did not have any concrete plan for taking power. Following the fall of Bashir, the SPA did not offer any alternative other than to negotiate with the TMC, which consisted of people from Bashir’s regime. Meanwhile, the TMC has been using the talks to play for time, while preparing the ground to crack down hard against the masses on the streets, which it eventually did. Hamid said that the revolutionary Sudanese people have displayed enormous courage and determination in the last few months. With no real preparation, they have brought the vicious dictatorship to its knees. In fact, they could have taken power, but they lack the necessary organisation, programme and most importantly, revolutionary leadership.

Comrades in attendance then intervened by making further contributions and comments. Many interesting questions were raised, which were answered by Comrade Hamid.

While concluding the discussion on World Perspectives, Comrade Hamid stated that the capitalist system throughout the world is in crisis. According to him, the crisis is not a normal cyclical crisis of capitalism, but a reflection of the organic crisis. Every solution that the capitalist class has proffered has only led to a bigger crisis on the world scale. Even in countries where protests have not broken out, it is obvious that it is just a matter of time, as there is seething anger and frustration in almost all the countries of the world. Therefore, humanity has entered a period of revolution and counter-revolution.

Nigerian perspectives

The second session was on Nigerian Perspectives and was moderated by Comrade Rashy. The lead-off was given by Comrade Kazy. He gave an in-depth analysis of the current Nigerian economy. According to him, the Nigerian economy entered into recession in 2016 as a result of the fall in the international price of crude oil, which is the main backbone of the Nigerian economy. The price of crude oil went to as low as $29.78 per barrel in January 2016. This pushed the economy into recession, with negative growth in GDP for four consecutive quarters, with the economic growth rate starting at -1.49 in the second quarter of 2016, and worsening to -2.349. Though still in recession, it slightly improved to -1.73 percent, then to -0.91 in the first quarter of 2017. The economy only came out of recession in the second quarter of 2017, with 0.72 growth, which was still a very weak recovery.

This was as a result of oil price rising in 2017 through 2018, recording a peak in October 2018, at $76.73 per barrel. Since then, growth has only risen to 2.38 percent. Compared with a population growth of 2.6 percent as of 2017, this means net growth is still negative. According to Kazy, the Buhari regime spent itself out of recession in 2016, through borrowing, which has now pushed the country into yet another round of debt trap – the country is about 23 trillion Naira in debt. The huge sum of 2.3tn Naira is to be spent on debt servicing alone, out of the N8.83tn 2019 budget. while the government’s oil income has only been 1.7 trillion Naira over the last three years, which means they are currently using more than their annual oil revenue just to service the debt. This is more than the budget for education, which is N462bn; and health, which is N315.2bn combined. Currently, the budget deficit is at N1.9 trillion, representing 1.37 percent of GDP in 2019 budget.

Comrade Kazy leading off on Nigerian Perspectives / Image: CWYA

Kazy stated that this has reflected heavily in politics, just as Lenin said, “politics is concentrated economics”. The recent general elections revealed how discredited the two parties of the establishment (APC and PDP) have become after 20 years of bourgeois ‘democracy’. It is therefore not at all surprising that Lagos, the most developed state in the country, recorded a meagre 18 percent turnout, compared with only 35 percent throughout the whole country. Only 29,364,209 came out to cast their ballots. while over 43m eligible voters did not bother.

Many comrades made further contributions and comments, questions asked were well answered by comrade Kazy. Comrade Kazy concluded the first day of the congress by reiterating the fact that the current APC-led regime cannot do without attacking the living conditions of the people. The president himself stated just one day after obtaining the certificate of return while meeting the APC leadership, that this next four-year period will be a very difficult one. The finance minister disclosed in December that there is absolutely no way of financing the 2019 budget without the sale of government properties and parastatals. But, on the other hand, the working class will not fold their arms when their means of livelihood are being taken away from them. Therefore, we are moving towards a pre-revolutionary situation in Nigeria. The objective conditions for revolution are over-ripe. The coming period will see street battles, and our campuses will be seething with clashes between students and the state.

Day two

Comrade GOK leading off on the history of the Nigerian Section of the IMT / Image: CWYA

The second day of the congress was opened by Comrade Kazy, who moderated the two sessions. The first session began with a brief history of the Campaign for Workers and Youth Alternative (CWA). This was delivered by Comrade GOK.

This was followed by the report of the work of IMT around the world, which was led off on by comrade Hamid. He gave an inspiring and detailed report of the work of IMT in the US, Canada (where students work has given tremendous results), the UK, Spain, France, Italy, Pakistan, Venezuela and Greece, among others. Comrades asked a few questions which were clarified by comrade Hamid.

The second and the last session of the congress concerned the work of the Nigerian section. This was given by comrade Rashy. She gave a detailed report of the work the section has been doing for the past several years. She pointed out the slow and steady work among the students in Ibadan, which is beginning to yield significant results. She also reported the challenges in the two northern branches of the organisation. Many comrades contributed by making suggestions on the best way to improve the work of the section in the coming period.

Comrade Rashy leading off on the Nigerian Section report / Image: CWYA

All the comrades pledged to renew their dedication and commitment to the building of the organisation. All agreed that this is the best time to build the organisation. This is in realisation of the fact that the question now is not whether the Nigerian masses will move or not – we are confident that they will move, but the most-important matter is for the organisation to be well-positioned in order to benefit from the impending class struggle. Rashy ended the report by giving a detailed financial account of the organisation. She stated that there is a significant improvement in the financial report compared to the past, but also charged the comrades to do more.

The congress came to an end with a strong commitment from all the comrades to redouble their efforts and commitment towards the building of a viable section in Nigeria. Comrades then exchanged pleasantries. Pictures were taken. All comrades left with high hopes and a high level of enthusiasm. They all agreed that the congress was an important turning point for the section.

This will definitely open up big opportunities for the growth of the organisation in the coming period.