Comrade Segun Sango @ 60
Celebrating the life and struggle of a socialist fighter, by Dimeji Macaulay
One cannot use this day alone to write about the struggles and what one knows about comrade Segun Sango. But in other to mark this day, Segun Sango is a blessing to the world, Africa and Nigeria a brilliant lawyer and consistent socialist revolutionary. A dependable and firebrand Marxist. A humanist and a defender of the working class.
It will be difficult to talk about Segun Sango without also mentioning Comrade Lanre Arogundade (LA) his friend and comrade of about 4 decades. On the 5th of May, LA received the Defender of Press Freedom Award by the Nigeria Union of Journalists. These two comrades and seven other young people formed the Militant, now called Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), an in 1987 organization that now has successfully registered the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN).
They both struggled as student leaders from 1982-1983 to resist the anti-poor policies of the ruling class in Nigeria, most especially the Buhari/Idiagbon from December of 1983 to January of 1985. They’re the ones leading struggle against commercialization of education and in support of the workers’ struggle. While LA was the president of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), after serving as a member of the student parliament and also the Secretary General of the University of Ife student union, now called Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). Segun Sango is also a leading student activist on campus. Under their leadership with the support of other pro-people organisations, they organised a lecture boycott that nearly collapsed the Buhari/ Idiagbon regime in 1984. Segun Sango and a few others were arrested for unlawful assembly, and it was Lanre Arogundade who went to the press to call for their release, and they were released within four days, reported in one of the newspapers I read in 2012 at the Chief Gani Fawehinmin Gallery. These students were determined to listen to plight of the government only if the government soft-pedaled and reversed the cafeteria fee that has been increased.
Dimeji Maculay and Segun Sango
In fact, unlike now that student movement has collapsed ideologically, in those days the student movement was so powerful that they gave the supreme military council an opportunity to fix a day, time and venue, for a meeting to discuss demands of students before the lecture boycott can end. Segun Sango was the one who traveled up North to mobilise students in Bayero University Kano (BUK) and Amadu Bello University (ABU), those are a golden generation that one must be proud of. The played an important roles against the Ibrahim Babangida regime for implementation the structural adjustment programme (SAP) and annulment of the June 12 , 1993 general election.
I met Segun Sango sometimes in August 2009 at a socialist school organised by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) in Benin, Edo State. I was just a young radical student without a Marxist understanding. The lead off by Segun Sango and AJ Daga was very inspiring as a new turn to my student activism. Because I was far from Lagos but enjoyed regular visits from Hassan Taiwo Soweto and Kola Ibrahim. I always read via the website of the DSM (www.socilaistnigeria.org), where many articles and press statements are mostly issued by Segun Sango as the General Secretary of the DSM. Segun Sango stands out as a consistent fighter and a practical Marxist both in lifestyle and in relationships with people. Because of this he played a pivotal role in the registration of the National Conscience Party (NCP), and it was under his leadership in 2003 that the party has the best history in Lagos State. Since the party was taken over by the right wing elements, the party was just for adventurism, this was even confirmed by the late Chief Gani Faweinhmin before his death. His close friends and comrades LA contested as Senator and scored over 80,000 votes under his leadership.
The role of Segun Sango in the struggle for registration of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) cannot be comprehended. One of the memorable days was the day Segun Sango himself appeared before the judge and the court, on March 3, 2015. The presiding judge, Justice Kolawole Gabriel, still recognizes Segun Sango as his old schoolmate in the 80s, and was surprised this comrade is still in the struggle to end capitalism. He didn’t only recognized Segun Sango, he also advised INEC to do what is needed because this case is also his case. Many young comrades at the court were inspired with what happened in court, and will all hope Segun Sango follows up with a call as the judge required to see the possibility of exchanging contacts and books like in the past until today. Segun Sango never made the attempt to call the judge until we won victory in November 27, 2017.
Segun Sango has a broad mind to many left organisations, and he believes that we all need ourselves to fight this deadly system and it is only by unity that we can fight and win. Today Segun Sango clocks 60, his works and contributions to the struggle for a socialist world will continue to inspire the younger generation. His a builder, an organiser and Marxist teacher.
Most of the time I hardly speak in any public programs without trying to quote Segun Sango, or even laughing when remembering the moments we spent together in Agbotikuyo before I relocated to Abuja. I was happy to see him recover quickly when I saw him. I wish him a long life in good health.
Below are some insightful quotes by Comrade Segun Sango.
Socialist Revolution or Barbarism!
According to Segun Sango, “Even though our problem is huge, the way to solve it is simple. The first thing is to make sure that the society’s wealth is collectively owned and democratically-managed in order to avoid the pitfall of the former Soviet Union. In the former Soviet Union, they nationalised the economy and collectivised the land and for a time, it worked. The former Soviet Union was as backward as India compared with the United States of America as at the time of the revolution and within a period of one generation, it became the second most developed country all over the world. But one of the founding fathers of the revolution, Leon Trotsky, warned that a nationalised economy requires workers democracy to function effectively for the good of all. A combination of the lack of workers’ democracy and the rise of Stalinist authoritarianism eventually led to the collapse of the former Soviet Union and East European governments.
“This is not a society we can bequeath to our children so this is a clarion call for social transformation and revolution. We need a determined working class party that people can believe in. The task may be difficult but as the Chinese say ‘the journey of a thousand miles begin with a step’. We have to begin today otherwise, the current generation will be worse for it. Militancy will increase as well as kidnapping, ethno-religious conflict etc. Things will get worse. So there is not going to be a way out for Nigeria on the basis of capitalism. Our task is difficult, so we should begin to squarely face it. We need a party of the people. The antidote to Nigeria’s problem is public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under working class democratic control and management”.
“A nation that is well endowed with human and material resources but perpetually held down in a state of coma is an absurdity that cannot be rationally justified unless you believe in the irrationality of the capitalist system”. (Segun Sango)
National Organising Secretary of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN)