Notwithstanding the retirement notice that the #EndSARS generation is believed to have served the generation behind the radical nationalism of the 1980s, stars in the politics of radical change spearheaded by that generation still seize the national imagination now and then. Unfortunately, this happens more nowadays with the death of one or the other of that generation more than otherwise.
This is the case of Segun Sango whom those such as the author of the piece below who knew him very well represent as image breakers in their own right within the dynamics of radical democratic politics of that era. Comrade Abiodun Aremu’s piece below is thus a critical celebration with important signifiers to take note of, particularly in the light of continuous Left re-assertion in the politics of Latin America but in the era of the politics of the #EndSARS generation in Nigeria.
By Comrade Abiodun Aremu
Be and Live the example of what you profess! Comrade SS is one of the very few of our comrades that one has encountered who lived and practiced to the end of his physical existence his commitment to the struggle for Socialism!
Frontline activist in the University of Ife Students’ Union and NANS in nationwide campus mobilisation in the early 80s, General Secretary of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) from early 90s to his demise, National Chairperson of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Mobilisation Officer of the Joint Action Front (JAF) at inauguration in 2005 to October 2011, and a Committee Member in the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) in drawing up and articulating programmes of action in several LASCO struggles, Comrade Segun Aderemi Sango, a true revolutionary socialist to the core, who transited to the ancestral realm on May 23, 2022 will be committed to mother earth on June 24, 2022!
My deep relationship with SS was unknowingly facilitated by Comrade Raskeey Ojikutu sometimes in 1985, after a national meeting of the Patriotic Youth Movement of Nigeria (PYMN), that had held all through the night to debate a position paper of over 120-pages on the STATE OF TERTIARY EDUCATION IN NIGERIA AND THE WAY FORWARD, for the consideration of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in its engagement against the Ibrahim Babangida military dictatorship! The PYMN meeting was held in El-Kanemi Hall, UNILAG on the eve of a NANS’ Senate meeting hosted by University of Lagos Students’ Union (ULSU) led then by Niyi Akinsiju aka Rapidity! It was one meeting I have lived to remember this encounter because it started with a heated debate and internal struggle for close to an hour among comrades disposed to, either of John Odah PYMN Secretary-General presiding over the meeting or Lanre Arogundade (then immediate past NANS President) and this was under an atmosphere of fierce polemics that lasted from about 9pm to 8am the next day discussing every line of the lengthy-paper! Those who tried to doze off in the course of the debates were tongue-lashed at intervals by ‘sharp-mouth’ Muyiwa Oshikoya and Olumide Fusika Adeyinka and no one could really grab any sleep until we all rushed to the venue of the NANS’ Senate meeting!
It was after the NANS’ Senate meeting by the second day that Comrade Raskeey Ojikutu enjoined me to go to meet with Sango at his residence off Iju Road and right from that first personal meeting, we got attached to each other, and despite my decline of his invitation, first, to join the Labour Militant (LM) at the formative stage, later Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), we collaborated together in the interest of collective struggle, without any minor or major disagreement, though we expressed differences, at times, on perspective on issues!
Comrade Sango is for me, like Lanre Arogundade, Ngozi Iwere, Owei Lakemfa, Shola Olorunyomi, John Odah, Denja Yaqub and few others, (and including Rotimi Ewebiyi, Chima Ubani, Biodun Ogunade, Laitan Oyerinde, Abiodun Kolawole, etc now in the ancestral abode) are examples of a long history of non-sectarian comradeship one has learnt to cultivate and sustain! This non-sectarian quality of Comrade SS distinguished him as an exemplar from the generation of the 1980s students’ movement in organisation building. Also, it attests to why succeding generations of young ones passed/ are still passing through the DSM. And for me, it is a commendable hallmark of Comrade SS revolutionary practice, which the current generation should painstakingly learn from!
The tribute to Sango is a lesson in praxis of organisational relationship! From Baba Omojola my practical teacher in organising and relationships, to my lessons in the Cuban Brigade that bring together non-sectarian comrade participants from Africa, US, Latin America, Europe, South America, etc, sectarian labelling/ attacks among comrades as Trotskyist, Stalinist, Maoist, Castroist, isn’t the order of relationship, it is only in Nigeria that one continues to be lectured by the exhibition of sectarianism which has been a setback to forward movement in our struggle! And decades of relationship with Comrade SS wasn’t of such redundant intrigues!
Irreproachably committed to the triumph of a new world socialist order, which he exemplified with his leadership role for the birth and registration of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN). And unlike others who would take advantage of their physical limitations to avoid the barricades, Comrade SS would always be prompt and in the front line, offering visible leadership in almost all the struggle coordinated by JAF and LASCO. On some occasions, he would come closer to me to say: Aremson, I have to leave now, you know I can’t stress my legs further, let’s talk after. And several times, we did so on phone calls, in his office and those few times we went out to share drinks in either of our two regular spots! We operated a mutual financial trust on our social outings, he paid or I did or we shared costs on the basis of each ability. I think once or twice, on our return from an outing, we took pictures together by imposition and that was made viral on the social media. Except when he came for Madam’s birthday day in 2013 that we consciously agreed to a picture, our relationship was mostly consumed by organisation issues, and in almost all, we would end up agreeing on every matter and the practical steps to take. We were agreed together on LASCO and JAF and most times, I would reach him to send me a draft of what we should do and he would promptly revert. We flow together and few of the MAY DAY celebrations in Abuja, we were together. I remembered in one of the flights we travelled together, he was with his ‘agbo’ (herbal mixture) – he doesn’t joke with it and we had to oversome a battle with the Airport officials to travel with some plastic bottles of it. And once, our discussion strayed into what he said someone accused him of and was concerned but I said to him, he should forget it because the person is also a comrade and friend to me, and that he wouldn’t say such to my hearing because the comrade smokes too and that while Comrade SS did his openly, the other does his discreetly. The case was closed on that issue, because one of the training I received from Baba Omojola is to “relate to people from their positive-values, takes note of the negatives but to cautiously ignore it completely and never allow such to determine your position nor affect your disposition in collective work with others”!
Comrade SS is a very free and trustworthy comrade with nothing to hide. He is probably the only person aside Baba Omojola that I have been mostly out with regularly to share drinks! Our comradeship and friendship defied sectarian odds and translated into organisational development.
We had a UAD-DSM collaboration and cemented it with several major political programmes that were endorsed by our separate affiliate organisations in JAF at some points – UAD and DSM, inuding a program with Gani Fawehinmi on June 12 2007, shortly after he resigned from the National Chairperson of the National Conscience Party (NCP).
Just two extracts from our statements jointly signed in press briefings as a testimony to Comrade Segun Sango’s non-sectarian conduct in organisation relationship and his irreplaceable commitment to a Political Alternative of a socialist socio-economic system to Capitalism:
- January 15, 2008, at a joint Conference of UAD-DSM, Comrade Segun Sango contended: “Finally, we call on the NLC, TUC, and JAF to spearhead the immediate creation of an independent working class political party, which will be prepared to fight for the attainment of the above outlined goals. The absence of such a party was the primary reason while the 2007 general election was an exclusive fight between different sections of capitalist rogues. Even if the elections have been free and fair, it will only have brought to power capitalist anti-poor politicians that would strive to hike fuel prices from time to time while they themselves are looting the state resources to shield themselves and their families from the harsh effect of their pro-rich policies. The Nigerian capitalist ruling class and the Yar’Adua regime in particular, have abundantly made it clear that they would rather attack the interest of the masses, rather than reduce the profit and opulence living standard of the elites. Within this context, a “strategic partnership” with the ruling capitalist government being championed by the NLC and TUC with the government is like keeping chickens in the custody of hyenas. Now is the time for our leaders in the labour movement to stop this futile and counterproductive approach and instead consciously begin the process of creating a formidable labour party that is prepared to offer coherent alternative economic and political options come 2011. If not, going by the sordid experience of the so-called local government elections which recently took place in many states across the country, the current set of looters and political usurpers would always find means to perpetrate themselves in power.
- At another joint UAD-DSM Conference on September 19, 2008, over the forceful closure of Channels TV, Comrade Sango was consistent in his call for Socialist Alternative, as recaptured: “…The United Action for Democracy (UAD) and Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) totally condemned the barbaric closure of the Channels Television and illegal arrest and detention of four members of staff of the TV station by the armed operatives of the State Security Service (SSS). We call for the immediate and unconditional re-opening of Channels and release of the detained staff. The government must also tender unreserved apology to the TV station and the public for this crude military-like assault. Finally, to ultimately prevent a re-occurrence of this barbaric assault, labour, socialist and pro-masses organisations should immediately come up with concrete action to put in place a working class people political alternative that could wrest power from the self-serving ruling elite at all levels and usher a working people government that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of the masses. Only such a government will have nothing to hide from the people, and as such will have no cause to arbitrarily implement policies just to satisfy the hollow ego of those that currently find themselves in power.
Comrade SS is an example in revolutionary sacrifices and comradeship! I can still recollect his decision at the shortest notice to travel with me to the 6th UAD Convention in Bauchi in July 2007, especially because of my decision not to seek re-election as the Covener of the organisation. I had barely availed him of the detailed information of the Convention and he told me he would go with me! And with about 44 other comrades in a coaster bus and another 10-seater bus, Comrade Sango travelled the long distance from Lagos to Bauchi with us, despite the inconveniencess and dare-devil disposition of our aluta forces who were ever-ready to go anywhere at anytime – Obete-Omuha for Chima, Jos, Benin, Owerri for UAD NCC meetings, etc. Even at the point we arrived Jos at about 1am and the soldiers were trying to enforce an emergency order on us and few of our members in the bus became jittery when the soldiers ordered one of our members who drove the 10-seater to roll on the ground, Comrade Sango was calm and courageous to meet the soldiers with me to get a free passage to proceed to Bauchi, where we arrived at 3am! It was a touching experience I shared with Comrade SS because he said he had to be physically present to persuade me to be re-elected to ensure our collaboration in the interest of continuous struggle!.
Comrade SS earned my respect eternally as an uncompromising class fighter, who even in sickness, fought to live! We never debated to agree on all we did together on the basis of tendencies because we both recognised we went through a PYMN at a period with about the fiercest tradition of decisive polemics in determining the ideological direction of the students’ movement. But what was central to us was our humble sacrifices to move the struggle for socialist transformation of the society fôward. And as SS mostly concluded in our discussions, we shouldn’t be deterred by “awon alainikan se” (those who deride what others do but ended up not doing anything themselves) and “omo toni Baba oun o’la, enu e lowa yen” (reference to the younger generations of comrades who castigate the older generations of not succeeding, let them also try to do something.
ADIEU COMRADE SS! Since you became physically weakened about five years ago till your exit into eternity, one misses our symbiotic relationship. But memories of our mutual respect and understanding will live because we never crossed the lines! At my longlife partner Madam’s 50th Anniversary 9-years ago, you were full of life and took it very simple!
Comrade SS is that comrade and friend, who on my first visit to his modest home, from where he had now transited, beckoned on me to follow him to his bedroom and to other rooms that his sweat afforded him to have! Though, I recipocated his gesture when also, he first visited our home too, but each time I remember that experience with him, I do so from a larger picture of what Amilcar Cabral says which is what ACIS-M adopted as its Code of Conduct: “… The entire life of our Party should be based on the principles of revolutionary democracy. Every leading member of the Party should not shirk responsibility, demand due respect from others for his work and duly respect the work of others. Hide nothing from the masses. Tell no lies. Do not conceal difficulties, mistakes or setbacks. Claim no easy victories …”
GONE goes Comrade Segun Sango to another realm of life after death! Those of us remaining behind had better learnt from his examples, his writings, his commitment, his openeness, and his faithfulness to the idea and practice of SOCIALISM to the end!
The author is the Secretary, Joint Action Front (JAF) and is accessible @ firstname.lastname@example.org,