The supporters of the International Socialist Alternative (ISA) in the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), the Nigerian Section of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), after more than a year and half of grueling debate over ideas and methods of Marxism, have resolved to organise distinctly and separately from the DSM, the Nigerian Section of the CWI. We introduce to you, the Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA), which is affiliated to the International Socialist Alternative (ISA). The political contentions within the former CWI, which the DSM is affiliated to, are in themselves a reflection of this critical period of the instability of global capitalism, which is testing not only the ruling classes across the world but all professed organisations of the working class.

The International Socialist Alternative, constituted by the Majority of the Sections of the former CWI, is carrying on the genuine working class internationalist tradition of the CWI, with the former International Secretariat and a few other Sections opting out. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has further torn asunder the fabric of global capitalism, demonstrating to all that a system solely driven by the greed for profit cannot be relied upon to meet the needs of the working masses and poor people of the world. From countries to countries, we have seen how the logic of profit and a private sector-driven health sector have proved incapable of meeting headlong the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The capitalist state in several countries, against the logic of the capitalist system they protect, have directly intervened with funds in the health sector, as well as in other sectors of the economy impacted negatively by the shut-down of the world economy. This act helps to confirm the superiority of the ideas of public ownership and democratic management of all key sectors of the economy, of both production and distribution of goods and services to meet the needs of the working masses. Need we point out that the interventions of these governments, in Nigeria and elsewhere, are a consequence of the refusal of capitalists to take on the burden of any venture that is not profitable, and as well as calculated to assuage the losses of local capitalists.

The question of providing succor to the vast majority that suffer the most from the effects of an economic shut-down is at best a cover for diverting public funds into private pockets.Never in the modern era has the world economy suffered so much of a shut-down. Nigeria in particular will turn out to be one of the hardest hit from the Post Covid-19 economic downturn that is already unleashing recession on the world economy. If anything; Covid-19 has exposed that millions of people in various countries are poor and vulnerable, having to rely on palliatives from the state or other sources to guarantee them sustenance; these so-called palliatives mostly proved a drop in an ocean of misery for many.

This, no doubt, has torn to shred the façade of social intervention put up by the populist regime of President Buhari, with the regime hated more than ever by the working masses. It is clear the government has no thimble of goodwill left, other than among the few elites that benefit materially from its existence. A palpable anger at the insensitive conduct of the regime at a period of humanitarian crisis persists among the people. With a bold-face, the regime carried on with the business of corruption during the worst humanitarian crisis in a century; cash transfers and relief materials were channeled through the usual, corrupt patronage system, and did not reach those it was meant for.

We need not say that during this period the mind-boggling looting of the treasury in the name of “statutory transfers” went on; the elites got their obscene salaries and took delivery of exotic cars. The easing of the lock-down is not based on any success or medical breakthrough in the fight against the Covid19 pandemic. The regime is in complete paralysis and has demonstrated a false sense of surprise at the comatose state of health facilities in the country. The ruling elites should be held responsible the deadly conditions of health facilities in Nigeria, given the growing shortfall in budgetary allocation to the health sector, and the preference of the ruling elites to travel abroad for any form of medical check-up or treatment.

More so, the easing of lock-down is still plagued with all of the dangers of a growth in the infection rate, since practically little or nothing is on ground both in terms of the necessary testing tools or protective gears for health care workers to effectively function. Matter of factly, the easing of lock-down is also not out of any concern for the mass starvation that has been the lot of a vast majority of Nigerians that live in poverty, furlough workers, or the millions of informal workers that depend on daily earnings. If anything, the pressure of the members of the billionaire’s club at the loss of profit, and the loss of gains from illegal and multiple taxes, are of a greater concern to the regime.

No one is sure of the magnitude of losses that awaits humanity in the coming period, if the search for a vaccine and the procurement of it is mainly driven by the quest for profit. With about 7 million confirmed cases of infection and a death rate now over 400 thousand recorded worldwide, the future seems bleaker, if drastic changes are not effected in the management of the resources of the earth in favour of the needs of the working masses. But one fact is certain for Nigerians; we are sure of the economic morass that years of corruption and underdevelopment by the ruling class, compounded by the pandemic, will land us. Already, private institutions have silently begun the sacking of workers, a situation decades of contract-staffing and anti-labour practices have made easier.

Some of this companies hide behind Covid-19 downturn to carry out this unwholesome sack. Our position is that any company incapable of holding her workforce through this period in the name of losses should open her books to public scrutiny, and in proven case of bankruptcy be publicly taken over. Kaduna State government, under Nasir el Rufai, has led the way for State governments in attacks on the working people by slashing workers’ salaries by 25%. The Federal Government itself is about to merge Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, an exercise that would lead to a significant loss of jobs, despite the false eloquence of the Labour Minister.

As part of the conditions the government has agreed with the IMF, the price of petrol, whenever oil garners momentum on the international market, would be determined by the profit interests of oil marketers; interests that are at odd with the economy of the public driver or fruit vendor. The government has not hidden it that it is hiding behind Covid-19 to withdraw the little gains derived from the minimum wage struggle, and watching how far the endurance of the people will go. We hear often the notion that Nigerians can adapt to any condition, no matter how harsh.

This notion is false. Nigerians are presently angered by the present conditions, which definitely pale beside what is to come. But the absence of a unifying leadership of the oppressed people that can give a programme, coordination and purpose to the struggle of the people is the cause of the frustration that is often mistaken for the indifference of the masses to their miserable conditions. The leadership of the labour movement during this crisis has once again demonstrated its unwillingness and unpreparedness to take history by the horns on behalf of the working masses, and provide leadership for their aspirations for improvement in the masses’ living conditions. Crisis like this expose the true orientation of socialists or activists, because of the unavailability of middle grounds.

While the tiny forces of Marxism cannot now dislodge the labour leaders and lead the working masses in a struggle to end the rule of capital and commence the socialist transformation of society, it must as a matter of necessity set for itself the agenda to organise the rank and file of the working class to democratise their unions and break the barriers of bureaucratic leadership that is turning them to victims of an economic crisis the ruling elites created, and build a new current of labour leaders that will imbibe the revolutionary programme of Marxism as its instrument of organizing the working class. This is the task before the MSA; to reach out and develop the forces of Marxism and deepen the roots of socialist consciousness among the working masses, in the workplaces and factories, communities and schools.

We are entering a period when the defence of Marxist ideas in mass organisation of workers, youth and the oppressed is necessary towards building a new generation of Trotskyist cadres in the labour and youth movement. It has become clear that capitalism globally is inefficient, but in particular, capitalism in a neo-colonial country is incapable of tending to the most basic of the traditional tasks of capitalism like efficient transportation, electricity and land distribution for effective agricultural development, education, housing etc. For now, the government will seek to spend state resources on moribund industries and privately owned ventures in order to “restart” the economy, but this will amount to organising a Christmas party for Nigeria’s band of capitalists, and the working masses are not invited.

Ultimately the task before the working class is to take absolute control of the critical sectors of the economy, plan production and redistribution on the basis of social needs. However, we will convince the working people, through our collective struggles at the barricades, that “small wins” alone cannot resolve the fundamental problem with the capitalist system; it cannot extirpate its profit lust at the expense of social growth; our struggles must be linked to the overthrow of the capitalist system that create interminable suffering for the working masses. This is the very sense that the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer, the unabated mass movement it has created in the US, which has generated agitations and demands for an end to racism and discrimination against black people, should be placed. Already the future framework of how capitalism in the US will be confronted is being laid.

The necessity for solidarity amongst all in the communities, and at workplaces; the fact that the trade unions can serve as organs of unity of the working class and the poor are now being reflected in this tumultuous struggle.The possibility of a spiral effect of the US movement worldwide, even if not on the scale of Arab Spring, is bound to be felt beyond the US. It will inspire young people in a place like Nigeria to confront the terribly undemocratic nature of the country’s capitalist system. The fact that it is already inspiring movements against police brutality and sexual assault, directly in solidarity, as well as raising similar concerns in other parts of the globe, must be welcomed. In the US, the Movement of “Black Lives Matter” against Racism has laid bare the task ahead of socialists; how to welcome a new generation of youths and workers to struggle and help out in their quest for the correct ideas of how society can be reorganized.

Socialists are now all the more confronted with the question of how to orientate towards a movement for reform without dismissing the immediate demands, but through their involvement link the agitation for reforms to need for the socialist transformation of society as a single thread.We are confident that other parts of the world, Nigeria especially, will find its standing, confidence will be restored and the mass movement will rise again. The working masses, like their US counterparts, sooner than expected will throw overboard the chains of the lock-down and inspire the working class to come forward and provide the necessary leadership for the masses to confront a greater pandemic in the monster that capitalism constitutes, overthrow it and organize society on the basis of meeting the social needs of the working masses as opposed to the profits of the few members of the billionaires’ club.

If you agree with us, join us today in the Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA) to fight for the socialist liberation of Nigeria and the entire world from the chains of capitalist oppression that is holding humanity to ransom, and by so doing abolish poverty, unemployment, homelessness and hunger


Dagga Tolar

For the Provisional Working Committee of the Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA)