The recent “release” and immediate brutal re-arrest of Sowore raises the question of the nature of the present regime in Nigeria. The justified anger of many workers and youth poses the problem of “what is to be done?” Here comrade Rashy in Nigeria explains that this event brings into sharp focus the need to radically transform Nigerian society along socialist lines.
The Buhari-led APC regime – that came to power on the mantra of “change” – has lost a large layer of its social base over less than five years in government. The dream of change has turned into an unimaginable nightmare for the overwhelming majority of Nigerians. None of the fundamental problems inherited from 16 years of PDP rule have been solved, rather, they are being exacerbated. The regime has just been trundling on, merely surviving until this date as a result of a lack of a genuine mass alternative.
Towards the tail end of the PDP regime, the other wing of the ruling elite, in a bid to continue their deceptive “democracy”, quickly organised themselves into a packaged deceit called the APC party, but unlike the PDP’s end-days, the current degeneration of the APC coincides directly with the degeneration of the bourgeois establishment as a whole.
The masses have seen through them all, they have seen through their deceit. The 20 years of bourgeois democracy in Nigeria have been enough a time for the masses to see elites’ inability to better their lives. Therefore, the struggle against the APC is at the same time the struggle against the establishment as a whole. This then raises a question: will the establishment easily surrender?
The nature of the Buhari Regime
Already in the pages of the Communist Manifesto, Marx explained the true nature of bourgeois democracy: “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” meaning that the bourgeois state, whether in the guise of “democracy” or under a military/civilian dictatorship, only serves one purpose, and that is the protection of the interests of the bourgeois class.
When it is convenient, the bourgeoisie disguises their state apparatus behind a veil of deception and makes it look like a “state for all” or “democracy for everyone”, irrespective of the class divisions in society, but under different circumstances, when their vital interests are at risk, they lift the veil and render naked the true nature and meaning of a state or “democracy”. This is what we are currently experiencing under this present APC regime. Another very relevant theoretical question is raised by this: has the Buhari-led APC regime descended into fascism?
What is fascism?
As Marxists, we are extremely careful with the use of words, as they have very precise, scientific meaning. We do not play with words like “fascist”; we do not use it as a mere term of abuse. In order to effectively deal with and combat fascism, it is absolutely necessary to understand what fascism is. It is highly important to clarify the confusion in the use of this word, as it is being used to characterise the current APC regime, mostly by the left reformists and the liberal bourgeois radicals.
Fascism represents the total destruction of workers’ rights: the right to strike, the right to assembly, to right to organise, the right to express their opinions, together with the total destruction of their mass organisations, and the atomisation and enslavement of the working class. We can then ask the question; what relationship currently exists between organised labour and the current regime?
A regime that goes cap in hand in all its negotiations with labour, despite the bankruptcy of labour leadership, is far from being a fascist regime. The Buhari regime is panicky, it can feel the tremors of revolution beneath its feet. Like every dying regime, it is concerned about its own future, but it has one advantage on its side: the left is much weaker than the regime, it is disorganised and the leadership of labour is bankrupt. However, contrary to some assertions, this regime is not strong; it is weak, and its weakness brings on aggression. It is in this context that the excessive aggression towards Sowore’s “RevolutionNow” campaign can be clearly understood.
Persecution of Sowore and the developing mass movement
Sowore’s arrest on 3 August 2019 was meant to be for 45 days, but he has currently spent over 125 days in detention. Within this period, he was granted bail twice, which the regime refused to honour, and when it was eventually honoured on 5 December 2019, he was re-arrested within 24 hours. The regime went as far as carrying out the latest arrest within the court premises just as he had been “released”.
From the video being circulated, it would appear that Sowore has probably been injected with a possible poisonous chemical. Thus, we see how the garb of “democracy”, the so-called “rule of law” was completely torn apart. The so-called “sanctity of the court” was flagrantly trampled underfoot. This is was what touched the wounds of “liberal democrats” much more strongly. The unjust and unwarranted persecution of Sowore is much less important to them than their defence of the sanctity of the court.
They are now calling on all of the Nigerian “people” to rise up in defence of “democracy” and the “rule of law”, the same way they have always been calling on the people since independence, as if it were possible to continuously maintain the rule of law/democracy in a society where the minority rule over the majority. The truth is that it has always been a question of the rule of force, and the balance of class forces has always been the most decisive factor.
The unjust and callous persecution, and most especially the maltreatment of Sowore on Friday, (6 December 2019), has drawn huge sympathy among the youth and a layer of the working class, who are genuinely shocked by the extent of the callousness the state has shown in silencing every voice of opposition. Their anger was understandably intense and from several interviews aired, it is clear they are seeking revenge.
However, Marxists must always tell the truth: the only real and long-lasting revenge will come with the overthrow of the whole of the ruling elite and the bloodsucking system they have imposed on us. All the anger should make us see how urgent it is to get ourselves organised and strengthen our side in the “balance of forces”, which is a necessary prerequisite for a revolutionary transformation of this sick society.
What is to be done?
All the policies of this regime, already mapped out for 2020, point to only one thing: more suffering for the Nigerian masses. None of the contradictions will be resolved, the growing anger of the Nigerian masses will be intensified, there will be more trampling upon so-called “democracy” and the “rule of law”, as the room for manoeuvre and deceit is becoming ever narrower.
Unfortunately, the leadership of labour refuses to lead. But there is a limit to how far they can put a lid on this growing anger. The rank and file of the working class will inevitably break through the ongoing inertia imposed on them by their compromising leadership. With the over 10 million organised force within the trade unions, and the growing anger among the rank-and-file soldiers who are daily being sacrificed on the altar of greed and corruption of their generals, the Nigerian revolution has the potential to succeed if it has a firm, courageous, Marxist revolutionary leadership.
What needs to be highlighted, however, is that any “revolutionary change” that does not deal with the question of who owns the wealth of the country, who controls the means of production, i.e. the social and economic foundation of this country, will only end up as yet another movement in a long cycle of movements that end up disappointing the masses. [See also our article, “Nigeria needs a revolution – but it must be a socialist revolution!”]
The change so desired by the working and poor masses cannot be achieved unless we pose the question of expropriation of the Nigerian capitalists and landlords and of their imperialist masters. Only a socialist transformation of Nigeria can guarantee real democratic rights for the majority, because it would bring into being the genuine rule of the majority over a tiny, ever-diminishing minority. This is the generational task before us and the Campaign for Workers and Youth Alternative (CWA) is committed to achieving it.