Report from Lenin Centenary Conference in Abuja, Nigeria

Reposted from Revolutionary Socialist Movement (RSM), the ISp affiliate in Nigeria

Over three hundred people gathered at the Top Rank Galaxy Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, to participate in the International Lenin Centenary Conference held between January 22 and 23. It was an exhilarating moment for all participants—an opportunity to engage in discussions on how to organize against our shared challenges.

There is hope for us if we keep fighting“, remarked one participant who approached the exhibition table to view photos of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Che, Fidel, and others.

The event commenced with the solidarity song and the “Internationale.” The lyrics of these songs welcomed those curious about Lenin and the event’s objectives. The welcoming atmosphere quickly settled in as the lyrics focused on themes of solidarity, organizing, the human race, and humanity. Indeed, the essence of the event revolved around humanity itself. Participants from various countries joined virtually, from Nigeria, the United States, Cuba, Ghana, South Africa, Venezuela, Palestine, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Diverse backgrounds were present, including doctors, professors, diplomats, students, lecturers, civil society activists, trade union activists, socialists, and community organizers.

In his welcome address, Comrade Owei Lakemfa, the Chair of the Conference Coordinating Committee, emphasized, “The main issue is the examination of Lenin’s ideas, especially within the context of current global challenges, and how they can help extricate humanity from crises. It is important to show that there is an alternative to the present crisis created by global capitalism.”

Professor WarisuAlli, the Conference Chairperson, a political scientist, and international relations expert, added that beyond its international dimensions, the conference offered Nigerians a chance to assess the state of the country. This included high levels of unemployment, increasing poverty, and alarming insecurity, providing an opportunity to chart a way forward.

Professor NuhuYaqub, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja and Sokoto State University delivered the keynote address. During his presentation, he highlighted the absence of revolutionary leadership in today’s world. Yaqub emphasized Lenin’s ability to mobilize and lead workers, underscoring the need for leadership of a similar calibre to bring about progressive change.

A one-minute standing solidarity was observed for Palestinians facing war from Israel. The event unfolded amidst global turmoil caused by rampant global capitalism, with imperialists, supported by local puppet rulers in various African countries, continuing to exploit African resources. Sanctions against countries standing against U.S. dominance further exacerbate the situation. The recent ethnic cleansing in Gaza by the Israeli army, backed by the United States, was also addressed. Palestinian Ambassador Abdullah Abu Shawesh conveyed in his solidarity message that the issue in Palestine transcends Israelis versus Palestinians or religion. Instead, the imperialists aim to exploit and dominate people. He emphasized the need for the region to be safe for everyone, promoting justice and freedom for all.

Yaw Appiah-Kubi, the representative of the Socialist Movement of Ghana, expressed gratitude to the event organizers for extending an invitation to SMG. He emphasized the significance of commemorating Lenin, stating that Lenin exemplifies the possibility of a better world free from capitalist and imperialist oppression. Appiah-Kubi stressed the need to struggle for a better world irrespective of tribe, language, and race.

Comrade Joe Ajaero, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), was represented by Comrade Benson Upan, the head of information for the Congress. Upan emphasized the ongoing need for relentless organizing despite obstacles and violence from retrogressive forces. He stressed the importance of building greater consciousness through constant education among the people and workers’ organizations. Upan concluded by urging collective involvement in the struggle for a new Minimum Wage, emphasizing its broader significance beyond the NLC and TUC.

OmoyeleSowore, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, advocated for a living wage. He recalled his party’s promise during the 2019/23 election campaigns of an N100,000 minimum wage, addressing concerns about funding and inflation. Sowore quoted Lenin, stating, “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” He called for a revolutionary week and criticized the left in Nigeria for its lack of accommodation, leading to internal divisions.

Representing the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, Professor Adelaja Odukoya from the University of Lagos discussed the endemic looting in Nigeria, emphasizing the need for people’s intervention. ASUU remained committed to fighting against the underfunding of education and opposed student loans, aligning with Lenin’s ideas.

Ene Obi, former Country Representative of ActionAid-Nigeria, expressed concern about the escalating level of poverty and the unaffordability of education for ordinary people. She emphasized the need for education to be funded with public resources, advocating for the government to build human capital for the country’s benefit.

Two female comrades, Ene Obi and Hauwa Mustapha, organized a surprise birthday celebration for former ASUU President Dr. DipoFashina (aka Jingo), who turned 76 on January 23, 2024. Dr. Fashina, a philosophy lecturer, was also a participant at the event and delivered  a paper titled “The Growth and Development of Leninism.” In his presentation, he explored the centrality of Africa in Lenin’s theory of imperialism, his impact on African socialism, and his advocacy for students, youths, and trade unions in the revolutionary process. Comrade  Jingo is an outstanding figure of his generation—a consistent revolutionary and working-class advocate.

The conference featured the presentation and discussion of twenty-six papers within the two days, organized into three sections. The event rejuvenated hope in the struggle for organizing a revolutionary socialist world, emphasizing the equitable utilization of abundant human resources provided by nature to meet the needs of all, not for the greed of a few. The vision includes a world free from war, ethnic cleansing, injustice, and oppression.

The Revolutionary Socialist Movement (RSM) actively participated in the event with eight comrades. Around fifty copies of Socialist Voice, the newspaper of RSM, were sold, and 300 copies of leaflets titled “Lenin still shows us the way” were distributed. Approximately ten individuals shared their contact details for further discussions on the ideals Lenin fought for and the collective effort required to advance socialist goals in Nigeria and worldwide.

The event concluded with a solidarity song and the “Internationale.”

On the resolution of the conference

After the event, the Chair of the International Lenin Centenary Coordinating Committee, Owei Lakemfa, issued the conference declaration. The declaration contains some very important demands, such as the call for freedom for all oppressed and colonised countries, the call to end mass hunger, for an end to wars. Obviously, we agree with all of these demands.

But this document has two points that are totally alien to Leninism. It calls for “A New Economic World Order built on the philosophy of the BRICS…” and “The development of continents along the lines of the European Union in which regional blocs merge, manufacturing is encouraged, Internal trade promoted and mutual development assured, should be encouraged.”

We strongly condemn these statements being made in the name of Lenin. Both the EU and BRICS are capitalist institutions and Marxists should fight against them. The EU is an imperialist institution which suppresses the European working class with austerity policies and drowns thousands of immigrants with its “fortress Europe” dogma. Protesters and activists suffer under the dictatorial rule of various BRICS governments in Asia and the Middle East.

The declaration should be directed at crushing the world capitalist system and enthroning socialism as Lenin advocated.

We therefore believe that the declaration of the conference fails to present Lenin’s basic idea, which is to fight for a government of workers and the oppressed, built on socialist ideas. For all of these demands to realise the world needs a shift away from the capitalist system and move towards a socialist world.

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