Musawenkosi Cabe / The Dawn News / May 4, 2018
A new political force in Nigeria – one of Africa’s fastest growing economies – seeks to reverse a policy framework that has benefited a small minority at the expense the majority of the population. The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) is determined to challenge the current status quo by unifying all the progressive forces in the country. As a start, the party is contesting the local council elections in the Oyo State.
The SPN was founded in 2012 but was registered only in the beginning of 2018 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The party says the delay in registration was due to the long and unfriendly bureaucratic process.
In its founding manifesto, the SPN makes a commitment “to replace the existing dispensation of poverty, hunger, homelessness, joblessness, illiteracy, underdevelopment and suffering amidst plenty with equitable and democratic use of Nigeria’s abundant human and natural resources for the collective benefit of all citizens.” The SPN is of the view that “under the present unjust system of capitalism, the profit of a few is prioritized over the needs of the mass majority, hence a situation where just 1% consumes over 80% of oil wealth while the majority of Nigerians scramble for the rest 20%.”
The post-military era saw the consolidation of power by the corporate oligarchy in the country through the process of turning national resources into private property. The disunity among the left prevented a strong challenge to this political direction.
The SPN seeks to transcend the elite politics that have come to characterise the Nigerian left over the years by championing the struggles of the poor and working class. Recently, the party launched a campaign for the compensation of the street traders who were victims of the demolition of the popular Ile-Epo market. The SPN alleged that on April 27, “the market was invaded by officials of the Lagos State Government, as well as armed security operatives who cold-heartedly demolished the market structures and also traders’ wares that were reportedly worth hundreds of millions of Naira.”
The SPN said that “the poor traders were not provided with alternative markets and compensation, thereby eliminating the livelihood of hundreds of traders and thousands of their dependents.”
The SPN thus has ambitious plans to upend the existing order. The upcoming local elections provide the first chance to challenge the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, whose government according to them, has prioritized profit over social welfare.