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11 March 2017
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State Chapter, condemns the wave of communal violence that has swept through Ile-Ife, in the last 48 hours. We condemn the wanton killing, destruction of properties and looting that occurred in the town. We call on working and poor people of Ile-Ife, both indigenes and non-indigenes, to act to stop the orgy of violence.
According to Punch newspaper of Thursday, 9 March, 2017, about ten lives have been reportedly lost, with some of them burnt to ashes. Several properties, especially of people from the north, have also been set alight and destroyed. This communal clash, which started as a disagreement between two people, affects the poor and working people the most. For instance, aside from the lives and properties lost, the means of livelihood of many poor people would have been affected. Aside this is the internal displacement of several hundreds of people, especially the Hausa community. According to Channels television, more than a thousand people from the north are being evacuated from the town. This will not only affect the businesses and livelihood of those being evacuated but also many locals whose livelihood and businesses are tied to those being evacuated. Therefore, this kind of communal crisis will affect the poor the most.
We call for the rapid creation of democratically based, multi-ethnic defence committees that can bring these clashes to a halt and begin building a movement of working people and poor to fight for real change in our interests. We demand that there is full compensation for all the victims of the communal clash. We also call for a democratic public investigation of the communal clash. Such investigation should include representatives of the Hausa community, youth groups, labour movement in the state, among others. While we are not against allowing the law to openly and fairly take its course, we nonetheless caution against criminalization of the youth by the security agencies. It has become a terrible norm that in this kind of situation, the security agencies and agents resort to extortion, repression and criminal profiling. This can only worsen already bad situation. Indeed, one of the ingredients for this communal clash is the lack of confidence in the security agencies as a result of their repressive and extortionate record.
However, the point must be made that behind this horrible development is the failure of government at all levels, especially the Aregbesola government. Ile-Ife, Osun State's second largest town, just like other towns and communities in the state, has witnessed little or no presence of government for years. It is not accidental that Sabo community, where the crisis started has been the haven of jobless street urchins and desperate menial workers. Every day, men and women, in search of means of livelihood, swarm around any private car, hoping to sell their manual labour. Many young men form the north live in precarious conditions in the town. In fact, the whole Hausa community in Ile-Ife lives in an overcrowded slum, with many families living from hand to mouth. In this kind of situation, it will only take a simple disagreement for this desperation to survive to snowball into expressed anger. The government and society have failed these people. It will therefore be illusory to think that the rest of the society can be peaceful when more and more people are denied basic means of survival.
It will take only a fraction of what Aregbesola government and the federal government gave to political and business class to start to provide decent and regular jobs for teeming youths across the state and the country. For instance, over N2 billion handed out by Aregbesola government to political contractors under the guise of dredging waterways in the state would buy dredging equipment for each local government and put hundreds of people on regular employment. In fact, more than more than N100 billion the Aregbesola government doled out to contractors under the inflated road projects, aside employing tens of thousands of young people, will be enough to construct and rehabilitate majority of the roads in the state, had the projects been undertaken by a well-equipped and well-staffed Works Ministry. But such was the failure of the Aregbesola government that even the so-called OYES volunteer programme has failed. Even, the federal government's NPower programme is already failing with volunteers being owed three months' salary arrears.
This latest communal crisis in Ile-Ife has again brought to fore the nationality crisis in the country. As against the propaganda of the majority of the bourgeois ruling class about 'One Nigeria', Nigerians are being divided along religious and ethnic lines on virtually every issue. This is because the basis of Nigeria's existence is itself premised on ethnic-religious division aimed at allowing various strata of the ruling class to take local control. According to the military authority, more than 30 states are being militarized as a result of communal crisis or political crisis. This shows that the country is sitting on a keg of gun power of ethno-religious crisis.
What happened in Ife also shows that violence and ethno-religious agitation is not the preserve of one tribe or ethnic group. Poverty and unresolved national question have become complementary ingredients for serious and violent social crises.
Only a genuinely democratic sovereign national conference that will allow the working people to decide how the country should be run and how our collective resources should be utilized can national question be resolved. However, only a government of the working peoples premised on utilizing our commonwealth and commanding height of the economy for the betterment of the majority working and poor people can address the national question. This is because the current set of bourgeois political class and their big business partners have their interests secured in this current system. This is why we in the DSM call on labour movement leadership, pro-labour organizations and activists to build a new radical political platform with alternative socialist programmes to wrest power from the current set of capitalist ruling class, who have no genuine programme of liberating the working and poor people.