Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

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24 May 2017

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LAND GRAB IN JIGAWA STATE

THREAT TO STRIP OVER 100,000 PEASANTS OF THEIR SOURCE OF LIVELIHOOD

DSM CALLS ON AFFECTED FARMERS TO CONTINUE STRUGGLE UNTIL VICTORY

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) Northern Nigeria Chapter strongly condemns the attempt to strip over 100,000 peasants/small scale farmers of their source of livelihood by a Chinese company, known as Lee Group, with connivance of the Jigawa state government. According to a report published in the Daily Trust on 20 May, 2017, the State Government has completed a deal to transfer 12,000 hectares of land to this Chinese company to establish sugarcane plantations against the will of the affected communities.

Should this shady deal sail through, it will no doubt affect about 36 farming communities across four local government areas in the State, namely, Gagarawa, Suletankarkar, Garki, and Taura. A Premium Times' report on 7 April, 2017 also reveals that about 150,000 peasants would lose their ancestral farmlands to the Chinese company. In what can aptly be described as a sheer display of arrogance and undemocratic tendency, the State Government neither carried out an environmental impact assessment nor consulted the affected communities before making the dubious deal.

We, in the DSM, believe that rather than compounding the miserable condition of these peasants/ small scale farmers through forceful and ruthless seizure of their farmlands, they should be supported with improved seeds and seedlings, modern farm implements, fertilizer and other forms of subsidy to produce crops. The Chinese company should, thereafter, buy from them. But the resolve of the State Government to go ahead with the deal in spite of seething opposition, suggests that the Governor, who is also a business mogul, is using the state power to pursue his business interest. This has, once again, glaringly exposed the unscrupulous character of our anti-poor capitalist politicians, who are ever willing to mortgage the future of the toiling people in the pursuit of their self-serving and selfish profit interest.

The most disheartening is the fact that victims of this land grab are blackmailed and intimidated to surrender their ancestral farmlands without the state government willing and ready to negotiate with them on whether or not they will accept to be compensated for their grabbed lands.

The DSM condemns this despotic act of Jigawa State government, at the same time commends and supports the collective initiative of majority of these victims who defied the Government's antics and have chosen to remain resolute in their struggle to protect their source of livelihood. This kind of tenacity that has so far been exhibited by some of the affected farmers in a bid to resist all sorts of intimidation and blackmail vested on them by the State Government will have to be deepened in the coming period. This will require a mass meetings of the mass of the affected farmers with a view to democratically discuss and arrive at programme of actions that will help to organise the affected farmers and unite them with other poor members of their community in a united struggle to force the state government to rescind its anti-poor decision.

If this is not done the government may further be emboldened to carry out more onslaughts, possibily will be similar to the Bakolori massacre in 1970s, on the affected poor farmers. It will be recalled that in the late 1970s, thousands of farmers were similarly displaced in the Bakolori farming community without being given any alternative source of subsistence. Many of these farmers were in the process maimed and killed while their community was razed for protesting against their inconsiderate displacement.

In conclusion, the DSM commends the farmers of the communities affected by this land grab for their tenacity and also urges them to continue to prosecute the struggle to its logical conclusion. At the same, the DSM urges the working people, peasants, youth and civil society organisations in the entire northern states to join the DSM in the fight against all kinds of IMF/World Bank inspired neo-liberal economic reforms and, most importantly, to situate our country on the path of socialism, the only panacea to Nigeria's socio-economic crisis which implies that the Nigeria's resources and wealth will be placed under the democratic control and management of the working people.

Dimeji Macaulay
Coordinator, DSM Northern Nigeria