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24 October 2017
Monday 16 October, 2017, over 60 people including socialists, community activists, student activists and trade unionists, gathered at the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) Hall in the Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area of Lagos to commemorate the centenary of the 1917 Russian revolution.
The event was a public symposium organized by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) under the theme: Socialism or Barbarism: Which way Nigeria?
The October revolution – the greatest event in human history - established for the first time ever a workers and peasant government which immediately undertook the task of re-organizing society to meet people's needs.
The revolution remains a shiny example for workers all over the world. Despite Russia's backwardness in 1917, within a few decades, the planned economy established by the revolution led to immense industrial and social progress. This was in spite of the role of the Stalinist bureaucracy which developed later as a result of the isolation of the revolution.
100 years after, the entire world remains trapped in the contradictions of capitalism marked by inequality and periodic economic crashes. The same task that confronted the working class in Russia a century ago is essentially what faces the working class today both in the neo-colonial countries and the advanced capitalist countries of the world.
Among the organizations and trade unions that were represented and participated in the symposium were Ajeromi Ifelodun United Interest for Justice (AJUIJ), Ajegunle Peoples'Movement (APM) Awodi-Ora chapter, Amilcar Cabral Ideological School (ACIS), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Chapters from both of UNILAG and LASU, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government as well as members and sympathizers of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and community activists.
In turning the wheel of the discussion, one of the invited guest speakers, Dr. Nkem Onyekpe from the University of Lagos (UNILAG ASUU) gave a lecture on the significance of the Russian revolution and the role of the Bolshevik Party, putting in place the first ever workers state that ended the ravages of the First World War and put workers and the poor in government to manage and control production democratically.
Importantly, and according to Dr. Nkem Onyekpe, the success of the October 1917 revolution rested on the shoulders of the principles of Marxism Lenin and Bolsheviks were able to use to guide the moment of the revolution and the working class experience to overthrow capitalism. Fundamentally, Dr. Onyekpe called for the struggle to be deepened and for the trade unions to be more organized with a fighting leadership that building a mass working people alternative in order to overthrow the system of capitalism. He concluded that there is no alternative to socialism except socialism.
Comrade Lanre Arogundade (one of the founding members of Democratic Socialist Movement) gave a rousing speech. His speech rested on the pillar of mistakes, success and betrayal of the Russian revolution by the Stalinist bureaucracy which emerged as a result of the failure of world revolution which led to the isolation of the young workers state. Stalinism burned to ashes the fundamental principles of Marxism in making a socialist movement, twisting it to two-stage theory that clawed to death the Chinese Revolution, Spanish 1936 revolution and other working class movement in that period. Lanre in his speech stressed the significance of huge lessons to be drawn from the Bolshevik Party experience and method throughout the building of the revolution.
Intermittently, there was poetry recitation by Bestman Michael and Ayandayo Oniseni respectively who are members of the Ajegunle branch of the DSM. This was followed by more speeches from Emeka Bosah (leader of (Ajeromi Ifelodun United Iinterest for Justice), Abiodun Aremu (Secretary of Joint Action Front (JAF), Ayo Arogundade (DSM) and Dagga Tolar (Acting Secretary of DSM).
Fundamentally, the various speeches emphasized the need to build a mass based workers political party. The need to build the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) was equally raised by Dagga Tolar. As the example of the October revolution shows, a mass workers' party armed with clear socialist programme is a necessary guarantee for the success of a revolution.
Attendees at the symposium also gave contributions on the relevance of the Russian revolution. Solidarity speeches and messages were given by some trade unionists and radical organizations present. They include: Whesu E. M: State Representative of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA; Segun Che: Representative of Amilcar Cabral Ideological School (ACIS) and Dr Adebowale Suenu (Vice chairman, ASUU LASU chapter). Several copies of a special edition of the Socialist Democracy (SD) which carried an article to celebrate the October 1917 were sold at the programme. Also, DSM publications for the past four years were displayed to commemorate the event.