The congress of the Nigerian section of the IMT was held on October 19-20, with a total of 20 comrades participating from different parts of the country. The presence of comrades from the north was a source of excitement and enthusiasm for all those present.
Some comrades had travelled by bus over 1000 kilometres to Lagos to attend the congress. This was not easy considering the terrible state of Nigerian roads. In fact, comrades from the North that normally would take around 12 hours to reach Lagos ended up spending more than 24 hours on the road, while comrade from Ilesha and Ibadan who in normal conditions should not take more than 3 hours to get to Lagos ended up taking more than 8 hrs. Despite all these difficulties, the comrades were very determined to attend the congress and arrived with a high level of enthusiasm, which on its own reflected the radical change in the situation in Nigeria.
First day of the congress
The congress was declared open by Comrade GK, he also went on to welcome all the comrades present for the congress. Solidarity messages from different sections of the IMT, from Canada to Argentina, from Indonesia to Pakistan, and from many European sections were read out to the comrades and each message was greeted with thunderous applause by the comrades present.
The first session of the congress was on World Perspectives which was led-off by Comrade Fred from the IMT. He started by saying that the crisis that we have already entered on a global scale is the most serious crisis that this system has ever experienced. He explained that this crisis was delayed because of the massive expansion of credit on an unprecedented level, which ended in the 2007-2008 financial crisis. He pointed out that this financial crisis was partly resolved through state intervention and handling over of billions of dollar to the banks and other financial institutions. This resulted in a massive increase in the debt of the states, with America which used to be the first creditor in the world, now the biggest debtor of the world with $17trillion of debt, of which China holds $1trillion in US treasury bonds. The recent 1-2% growth rate of the US economy has partly been based on artificial expansion through credit and also via “quantitative easing”, i.e. the printing of money, resulting, however, in the present enormous debt.
He also outlined the crisis in Europe, most of which is presently in deep recession with resultant attacks on welfare, cuts in pensions, growing unemployment and privatization of public enterprises. This crisis started in Greece and then spread to countries like Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy. Greece presently has 65% youth unemployment and despite the fact that real wages in Greece have been cut by 50% since the crisis began, Greece is still asking for another bail out which shows the intensity of the crisis which we have entered.
He also spoke extensively on the Chinese economy which, although growing at over 7%, has experienced a significant slowing down of its rate of growth. The crisis in Europe and America has affected China. He emphasized the fact that Europe and America have been the two main markets for China’s exports. As consumption has been greatly reduced in Europe and America this has contributed to slowing down the rate of growth of the Chinese economy and also all those countries that are connected to China supplying raw materials, such as Australia, Brazil, India and Turkey. This further confirms the fact that the crisis manifests itself as a global crisis of capitalism.
He also spoke at length on the second Egyptian revolution. This was an unprecedented movement with 17 million Egyptians on the streets. The Muslim Brotherhood did not and does not represent the aspirations of the Egyptian revolution. They were tolerated by the Mubarak regime and emerged as the only real organised force after the revolution, but within six months of being in government, the masses turned against them and moved en masse to overthrow the Morsi government in an unprecedented movement. But unfortunately, there is no revolutionary organisation and leadership that understand how to lead the movement in the right direction. The Tamarod didn’t know what to do; they had the power in their hands and handed it back to the army which then used it to crush the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Egyptian Army understood that to have allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to continue in power would have provoked even greater revolution, therefore, they had to remove them so as to stabilise the capitalist system in Egypt. He emphasized the fact that the revolution in Egypt will not be easily crushed because the masses have tested their powers, and they are not going to be easily stopped. However, due to the lack of the subjective factor, i.e. a mass revolutionary tendency, the journey to victory will be long and full of ups and downs, he stated.
Comrades then made points and asked interesting questions which were well clarified by Comrade Fred.
In concluding the discussion on World Perspectives, Comrade Fred reiterated the fact that the capitalist system throughout the world is in its greatest crisis ever known in history. The only solution that the capitalist class can proffer to this crisis is an intensification of attacks and cuts in living conditions of ordinary people. But unfortunately for the bourgeoisie, the people will definitely not sit folding their arms when their living conditions are being attacked. Therefore humanity has entered a period of revolution and counter-revolution.
For Marxists, the question is not whether or not the masses will move, because we are confident that they will definitely move as we have seen in Egypt, Tunisia and many other countries. The point is that when they move they need the necessary subjective factors, i.e. a revolutionary party and leadership that will lead them to final victory. This lies in overthrowing this blood-sucking system of capitalism and establishing a system of government that is based not on profit and private ownership but on the needs of the people. Unfortunately, these subjective factors cannot be improvised, rather, they have to the built before the movement begins. This is the experience of Egypt, Tunisia and the movement of the oppressed throughout history. Therefore this is the time to build the forces of Marxism, starting from Nigeria and throughout the world. This is the only guarantee for a successful world socialist revolution.
The second session was on the Nigerian Perspectives. The lead off was given by Comrade A.A. He gave an in-depth analysis of the present economic crisis in Nigeria which has been described as unprecedented in the history of the country. There has been a significant reduction in the demand for Nigerian oil on the international markets. The USA, which is one of Nigeria’s main buyers, has recently developed its shale oil which is of almost the same quality as Nigerian oil. This has greatly affected the economy of Nigeria as about 90% of government earnings come from oil.
He also outlined the terrible conditions suffered by the Nigerian masses, the total collapse of infrastructure, the growing levels of poverty and the high rate of unemployment which is one of the highest in the world, with over 80% of able Nigerian-youth unemployed!
He also emphasised the division among the Nigerian ruling class which is one of the conditions for determining the early stages of a pre-revolutionary situation. The imploding of the ruling party (PDP), which before now prided itself as being the biggest party not only in Nigeria but in the whole of Africa. The party has now been split into the old PDP and the New PDP. Also, the merger of some opposition parties to form the APC obviously represents another permutation by the bourgeois in order to deceive.
He stressed the fact that these divisions are not due to differences in policies, as all of them have the same policy, which is attack upon attack on ordinary Nigerians. The divisions flow from on the fact that the sitting President Goodluck has lost the authority to carry out the anti-people policies dictated by the IMF and World Bank. It is obvious that the president has completely lost credibility among ordinary Nigerians. This explains why the president is now coming up with the idea of a National sovereign conference, which obviously is a deceit to divert attention from the main issues on the ground.
He also took time to speak on the role of the reformist trade unions leaders who have been seriously collaborating with the regime. This also has a tremendous effect on the party formed by them which is the Labour Party. The party has been seriously discredited and now many failed politicians from the various bourgeois parties are trying to use it for their own selfish interest.
There were many contributions and questions from comrades which were well answered by Comrade A.A. He concluded the evening session by stressing the fact that there is a growing radicalisation and anger among wide layers of Nigerians who are yearning seriously for a radical and fundamental alternative. He emphasised the fact that there is urgent need to reach out to these layers as a means of building a serious tendency that will be capable of wresting power from this corrupt and inept ruling class. He stressed the fact that this is the only way out of the crisis in Nigeria and what is needed is the establishing a system that is going to be to the benefit of all. This would be part of the world socialist revolution.
History of the IMT
In the evening there was a special session on the history of the IMT. Considering the many new young comrades present, it was considered important to give a historical overview of the origins and history of the IMT. Comrade Fred of the IMT explained how our origins go right back to the founding fathers of the movement, Marx and Engels, through to the formation of the Bolshevik party under Lenin. He explained how we trace our traditions to the Left Opposition under Leon Trotsky and the struggle against the Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet Union. He outlined how the Fourth International was eventually formed out of this Opposition and also explained the role of Ted Grant in saving the genuine ideas of Marxism for future generations as the leaders of the Fourth International failed completely to understand the developments immediately after the Second World War. He quoted documents written by Ted Grant – his understanding of the beginnings of the boom, the real situation in the USSR and so on at that time – an compared them to what the leaders of the Fourth were saying (collapse of the USSR, Third World War and the impossibility of capitalism to recover…). This provoked amusement among the young comrades listening.
He then outlined how Ted, starting out from small forces in the 1950s was able to build up the tendency into a powerful force in Britain, known as the Militant Tendency, and internationally. It was as an opposition to the sectarian deviation of the Militant leadership that the forces that were to give birth to the IMT first emerged.
Comrades asked questions and also related how the CWA linked up with the IMT and emphasised how they had learnt much from the ideas and methods of the IMT and were determined to apply these in Nigeria today.
Second day of the Congress
The second day of the congress was opened by Comrade R.A who moderated the two sessions.
The first session was on the work of the IMT around the world, which was given by Comrade Fred. He gave detailed reports of the work of IMT in different countries such as Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Sweden, Britain, Spain, Pakistan, etc. Comrades listened attentively as he gave the reports. The report of the growth of the Pakistani section of IMT was received with a thunderous applause and high level of excitement, as conditions in Pakistan are very similar to Nigeria, and most closely resemble life in the Northern Nigeria.
The second and the last session of the congress was on the report of work of the Nigerian section which was given by Comrade K.A. He outlined the work the section has been doing for years, vis-a-vis the work in the labour movement, the student movement and the work in the Joint Action Front (JAF) which is a coalition of left groups in Nigeria. He emphasised the fact that the Nigerian section is highly impressed with the work the IMT is doing internationally and reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian comrades to be part of that great work by working towards building a strong section in Nigeria as a basis of spreading to other African countries. A finance report was also given, stressing the need for all comrades to support the work with donations.
The congress ended with a commitment from all the comrades to redouble their efforts and commitment towards the building of a viable section in Nigeria. Comrades then exchanged pleasantries and took many pictures to take home to the comrades who were unable to attend.. They all left with high hope and a high level of enthusiasm. All agreed that the congress was an important turning point for the section, marking a new development of the work and the opening up of big opportunities for growth in the coming period.