THE NIGERIA PRO-DEMOCRACY CONFERENCE 2021: Rethinking the Moment; building citizens alternative movement beyond 2023
Dr Isaac Osuoka has cautioned active citizens of the enormity of the Nigerian crisis as one that requires an urgent individual involvement in collective struggles informed by a clear and alternative vision to be able to reclaim and transform the state. He made this profound statement in a welcome charge at the National Prodemocracy Conference for 2021 which was held at the Lagos Airport Hotels Ikeja Lagos. In the address read on his behalf by the Programs Coordinator, Isaac Botti, the Executive Director of Alone stressed the need to work towards a process that can utilize such moments as presented by the #EndSars to build sustainable and enduring structures of popular power. He concluded by calling for a manifesto on how the colonial state can be recreated into a community that taps from the strength of the people to advance the historic cause. The philosophy must define how to manage the ownership and control of means of production, addresses the rights and relationship of nationalities
Solidarity Messages of Collaborators
Angela Odah of Rosa Luxemburg Foundation sent her solidarity message via live video conferencing and congratulated all partners involved in the conference’s organization as well as all activists and comrades present for their commitment to Nigeria and belief that the deliberations will bring solutions to Nigeria’s issues.
Dr. Chido Onumah, Executive Director of AFRIMIL, said that the political class cannot address the ongoing situation in 2023. Besides dealing with the present administration’s failings, he says the future president would have to deal with critical concerns like separatist movements in the South-East and South-West. Unless these difficulties and challenges are tackled with ingenuity, intelligence, and resolve, the country will continue to drift from crisis to catastrophe.
Democracy has failed to benefit Nigerians in terms of improved living conditions and access to essential services. According to CISLAC Executive Director Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), the Nigerian state has faced serious challenges such as civil strife, electoral disputes, and high youth unemployment. Pro-democracy and human rights activists may improve democratic systems. Security must be addressed to boost socioeconomic activity, create employment, and decrease hunger. He highlighted that the government must prioritize the rule of law and human rights because this is the only way Nigerians can understand democracy.
Chairman’s Opening Remarks- Comrade Femi Falana (SAN)
The chairman of the conference, Femi Falana (SAN) in his opening remarks gave a brief history of lawlessness in Nigeria- a litany of lawlessness from Lekki, to Mushin, to Kaduna and illiteracy and fear of arrest as a reason most downtrodden people never speak out. He paid particular attention to the lawlessness in the handling of the #EndSars panels, the double-speak of LCC and the deliberate attempt to confuse the Nigerian people. He warned that the struggle ahead is getting tougher and tougher, the political class can never change unless there is a new party to take power. A political party that will defend the interest of Nigerians, not a party of loan collectors, not a “dollarize” party. This system is at its best, it can’t do beyond what is happening now.
Keynote Presentation- Professor Toye Olorode
According to Professor Toye Olorode we now face the dynamics of our people’s fights and the forces that sabotage them, both inside and external to our organization. A New Nigeria can now be established with the masses of our people, employing all means of production, distribution and trade to serve their wants without endangering their future or long-standing unity, he said in his keynote remarks. Olorode noted, however, that the imperialist thieves (IMF, WTO, WTO) and their multinational businesses continue to deploy ministerial, technocratic, contractor, and consultant staff to monitor the privatization of public assets and the devaluation of the Naira. Rather than individual heroics, resolving the foregoing paradoxes demands extraordinary collaborative efforts. “We will continually evaluate our progress towards a socialist Nigeria”, he said.
Brief Comments on the State of the Nation
With Nigeria at a crossroads and people disillusioned with the two major political parties, the #EndSars was a response to general difficulties on the ground, according to Barrister Rasheedat Adeshina. We have a historical obligation to provide the people what they need, she argues. Power doesn’t wait; we must begin immediately.
According to Barrister Chima Williams, we need alternative political manifestos since the individuals formulating policies are unqualified, we need to go beyond campaigns and advocacy, and we must think about power or stay at the hands of those in power who use authority to enrich themselves. We need to discuss solutions and a new political platform. It’s about power, he said.
Comrade Owei Lakenfa thinks a shift in the existing exploitative capitalist system is required for a more compassionate society to emerge. They hide their flaws by borrowing from communist systems, posing as liberals, but we all know who the true owners are. Comrade Lakenfa prefers the socialist system because capitalists believe in individual profit accumulation whereas socialists believe in corporate profit accrual. Lack of ideological capitalism is a degrading system, and many comrades end up selling their souls to Satan through godfathers and donor agencies.
Ken Henshaw The Nigerian nation is in a crisis, the country is a shambles, and it has never been this awful. The administration is actively attempting to make life harder for ordinary Nigerians. The master’s tools will never enable us to bring about meaningful change. Change comes only every four years, via elections. We need to go from advocacy to revolution. Our only hope is to alter the system, not the masters.
The panel discussion session on the keynote presentation and the state of the nation was moderated by Comrade Jaiye Gaskiya and had Affiong Affiong, Betty Abah and Chiemeke Onyisi as panelists.
The Moderator Jaiye Gaskiya, highlights the tasks of the panel and also states clearly that the theme does exclude 2023 and not just beyond 2023. We know the goal, but how do we do what ought to be done and how to get there.
A summary of the Contributions by the panelist;
Barrister Chiemeke Onyeisi
We must learn from Latin America, using Peru as a case study, how they have been able to take over power despite losing out in the past. The past generation of revolutionaries hoped for the revolution and lost hope and moved into Non-Governmental Organizations but NGO’S do not take overpower. The example of the Black Panthers; how they were able to achieve so much through the introduction of Medical Insurance which the American state later copied. The consistency of action is the key to survival.
According to Comrade Affiong, having the PVC to alter what is existing cannot work unless we organize for change. Nigeria is a neocolony, but with black criminals replacing European colonists and we need to mobilize a national movement against neocolonial systems. We must first propagate the message that black criminals have supplanted white criminals in robbing our commonwealth. Imperialism is a global system it can only be defeated with global efforts. Think globally act locally!
We must be particular in inclusiveness, we must build a movement that carries everybody along. A movement that is very diverse, that attracts all sorts of people. Women and children are the most affected by state terroristic acts, we must speak for them and be seen to speak for them. We must involve the women that have felt the pinch of terror from the present system. We must infuse the energy of young people, we must carry them along. We must be dynamic in our approach, an inter-generational dialogue must happen.
Contribution from the audience and online participants agreed on the need for an alternative political platform and encouraged the message to be taken to the grassroots- to the critical masses who form a major part of the electorates. A network with sympathizers of our ideology was also suggested to have an all-inclusive platform to bring together everyone that believes in this course. In addition to these suggestions, some comrades emphasized that we must be prepared and organize for a revolution
Barrister Onyeisi encouraged participants as thinkers of an alternative political system to learn from Latin America, namely Peru, how they have risen to prominence despite previous defeats. The previous generation of revolutionaries lost hope and migrated into Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), but NGOs do not capture power. The Black Panthers achieved so much by introducing Medical Insurance, which the American state eventually emulated. Action consistency is vital for life.
Comrade Affiong believes that using the PVC to change the status quo is ineffective. Nigeria is a neocolony, but with black criminals replacing European colonists. We must propagate the narrative that black thieves have replaced white ones in plundering our country. Imperialism is a global system that requires worldwide action. Do-it-yourself!
Betty Abah feels that we must establish a movement that includes everyone- a movement that draws individuals from all walks of life. State terrorism affects women and children the most; we must speak and be seen to advocate for them. She insisted we must include the women who have been terrorized by the current system and also enliven and inspire the youth using a dynamic strategy and an intergenerational interaction.
In their comments, the audience and online participants agreed on the necessity for a new political platform and urged spreading the message throughout the critical masses. An all-inclusive platform with admirers of our ideas was also recommended. Apart from that, several comrades stressed the need to plan and organize for a revolution.