Fifty years ago, Nigeria was supposed to have won its independence from the British colonial masters. Today, the living conditions of the working masses are ten times worse than they were in 1960. Hopelessness, disillusionment, want and despair marks the lives of tens of millions of citizens while a handful of elites, in government and in business, live in such opulence. At independence there was hope that Nigeria would move from being a backward agrarian country through industrial growth and development. Today, many of the few factories that were established have been shut down. Unemployment rates have soared from 1.6% at independence to 19.7% today, while youth unemployment rates hover around 40%, resulting in frustration, rising crime rates and the availability of disoriented youths as thugs for political gladiators. Why is this so and what is to be done?
Nigeria’s crises emerges from capitalist development
The continued state of economic, social and political crisis of Nigeria is one compounded by the lack of vision, selfishness and corruption of the country’s elites in both government and business. But this is just a part of the problem. The fundamental cause of poverty and suffering of Nigeria’s masses is to be found in the nature of capitalist development.
Capitalism is an exploitative system in which the wealth of the few is rooted in the poverty and oppression of the immense majority of the population. It is an international system which subordinates humanity to property, resulting in ever increasing inequality within and between nations. The capitalist elites could be forced to make reformist concessions such as
social security policies, in the face of resistance by working people. This was the situation that arose in the Western world after the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II, so as to douse the anger of the masses. But since the force that propels capitalists is the drive for increasing profit, the sharp fall in profit rates for the capitalists by the end of the 1960s led to the introduction of neoliberal policies of privatization, deregulation and cuts in social services starting from the 1970s. Along with this rose the expansion of the financial sector where huge profits could be made that were not tied to a commensurate expansion in the production of goods for the satisfaction of human needs. This was the beginning of the road to the global economic crisis which we have not seen the end of.
Why does capitalism thrive?
The secret of capitalism’s continued existence are both material and ideological. It is a very cunning system which thrives on the weaknesses of alternative voices and forces to mobilize themselves and kick out capitalists in different countries of the world. Ideologically, right from primary school, we are made to believe that capitalism is the natural state of human existence, which has always existed and will always exist. But this is FALSE! Human societies had flourished for several millennia before the last few centuries of capitalist exploitation. And workers first in Paris in 1871 and later in Russia in 1917 showed that capitalism can be defeated and an alternative, pro-people, socialist system built by workers, farmers, artisans, poor men, women and youths.
We are made to believe that the way to change society for the better is through “free and fair” elections of “representative” executives and legislators. But this is another LIE! These elected representatives, be they in the United States, Britain or Nigeria represent first and foremost the interests of the capitalists and not we the poor working people. And more importantly; the only way we can transform society in our interest is for us to emancipate ourselves! History has repeatedly shown that it is only through REVOLUTION, in which we the masses seize power in our workplaces, communities and the streets that lasting social change can be won.
What is to be done?
We stand today at an historical juncture. The global economic crisis sharply demonstrates that capitalism is not sustainable. Another world is not only possible; it becomes more than ever very necessary to build it, through our struggle. Working people in Nigeria and all over the world have been and are challenging the power of capital and the elite capitalists. We must however move from challenging the power of the oppressors to fighting for power to re-make our society. This is why the theme of the 4TH Nigeria Social Forum; mobilizing for change, is of the utmost importance.
Our power lies in our struggle and solidarity. We the toiling masses create the wealth which the capitalist class in Nigeria for the past fifty years and capitalist elites across the globe for the past centuries have appropriated. It is only through our self-emancipation, that the wealth of society can be used for the needs of human beings and not to satisfy the greed of a few. Social change in the present era, another world which is possible, is that of building a socialist society where all would contribute according to the extent of their abilities and society would provide for all according to their needs.
Working people in different countries have to defeat the capitalists in these different lands, but our struggles must be connected internationally. Capitalism is an international imperialist system. Another possible, socialist world would be built by us in Nigeria mobilizing for social change, as working people across the world similarly march to change the world.
In Nigeria, the Socialist Workers’ Movement and Socialist League are part of the International Socialist Tendency of working people and youths across the world struggling against capitalism and to build another just and humane world, through socialist revolution.
If you are against this exploitative capitalist system, if you want to fight for social change in Nigeria and across the world, JOIN US NOW!