By Akande Daniel

On November 7, 2020, the Abuja Branch of the Movement for A Socialist Alternative (MSA) organised a virtual symposium to review the #EndSARS Protest. The Topic of the Symposium was “#EndSARS: Results and Prospects.”

Four speakers led participants in the interactive event that also had participants making comments or raising questions. The Speakers were Gbenga Komolafe (of the Coalition for Revolution); Omoyele Sowore (Activist and former Presidential Candidate); Dagga Tolar (Spokesperson of the MSA) and Vivian Bello (Human Rights Activist).

The activists and trade unionists who addressed the symposium provided an extensive background to the #EndSARS protest, relating the massive exploitation of the masses and youth that triggered the protest. Some of them related the prominent issues of police brutality, including the atrocities of men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). A speaker at the event, Vivian Bello, a Human Rights Activist, raised the urgent need to broaden the demands of the #EndSARS campaign, to include the economic problems Nigerians are battling. She stated that this would serve as a rallying point for all the oppressed people in Nigeria to organize and fight back. 

Other speakers spoke of the #EndSARS protest as a watershed point in Nigeria’s history which cast into the dustbin the belief that there cannot be resistance to bad governance by the youth, who are often described as too distracted to fight for change. They also noted that the movement had other significant demands that are less publicized by the capitalist media platforms. Demands such as ‘End to Bad Governance’ and cutting the outrageous allowances and salaries of the political office holders were granted lesser publicity by local and international media houses. 

Speakers also highlighted the strength of the movement, which the state had to quell with maximum force, after failing at previous attempts to cajole the protesters. Our speakers and participants roundly condemned the shooting and murder of unarmed protesters at Lekki Toll Plaza by the military, which state initially denied but is now defending speciously. 

Omoyele Sowore in his submission declared that it is important to return to the barricade in order to avoid dissipation of the sacrifices that have been invested by young people in this struggle. 

Gbenga Komolafe in his speech also exonerated the active and consistent struggle waged by organizations like the MSA and Coalition for Revolution (CORE) in taking up government on numbers of issues surrounding the horrible state of physical and social infrastructure, the devaluation of Naira, increase in Value added tax, increase in the cable TVs, Petroleum/electricity hike, mass youth unemployment, improvement in the minimum wage and then the issue of police brutality that sparked the youth movement. He noted that the uprising ended-up exposing the level of corruption in the Nigerian government. Gbenga Komolafe ended his speech by saying “we have to go back to the street, this is a marathon, not a sprint and the impending struggle should be organized”. 

“The actions of the Nigerian Police throughout the protest is also worth noting, a fraction of the rank and file police and the armed forces gave their total support to the protest, using that medium to also put forward the demand for a better police force,” Dagga Tolar pointed this out during the symposium. “We should continue to demand a police union,” he continued, “a platform that can protect the rights of police officers.” He also highlighted the need to put an end to the system which places the commanding heights of the economy under the control of few individuals and thieving political elites and replace it with a system that is capable of ending human misery or poverty amidst abundance. This can be achieved by placing the commanding heights of the economy under the control and management of the mass majority of the working people in order to meet public needs. 

More than seven questions were raised by participants about how to forge ahead with the #EndSARS movement. Dagga responded, emphasizing the need for us to continue political education and organizing among the members of our various association and community. 

The symposium was welcomed warmly by participants, who emphasised the need for political ideas to solidify the awakened movement in the country. Fifty-five people joined the event from different parts of the country. 

The event has also raised the profile of the MSA. About 15 people put their names down to join the organisation, while about a hundred more have followed our Facebook page within the last 24 hours. 

The event and the warm reaction to it show the thirst for radical ideas among Nigerian people. It also highlights the point that a systematic intervention of our organisation among the people will expand the forces of Marxism in the country. This will have its impact on the quality of future mass movement that has been awakened by the #EndSARS protest.