DSM REJECTS FUEL PRICE HIKE AND OTHER NEO-LIBERAL POLICIES
DSM REJECTS FUEL PRICE HIKE AND OTHER NEO-LIBERAL POLICIES
- All Out From January 9
- No rotten compromises!
- Labour should spearhead protracted and democratically controlled mass actions to reverse the fuel price hike!
- Break the thieving ruling class’s power.
- For a workers’ and poor people’s government!
DSM leaflet text. Available here in PDF format.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), a pro-worker and poor masses organisation, which totally opposes the current rotten system, believes that Nigeria is at a turning point.
There is raging anger at this incompetent government’s assault on living standards. The DSM, an integral member-organisation of the Joint Action Front (JAF), joins millions of Nigeria to oppose the removal of subsidy and fuel price hike and fully supports Labour’s call for strike action to start from January 9, 2012.
We call on Nigerians to mobilise for this strike and brace up for protracted mass actions including public demonstrations, rallies, strikes etc, aimed at defeating this anti-poor, neo-liberal capitalist attack.
The claim of the government that this policy will ensure rapid growth of the economy and infrastructural development is a repeat of an old but blatant lie. The reality, just as our past harrowing experiences under successive anti-poor governments have shown, is that this policy will only result in further decimation of the economy and widespread ruination of living conditions of ordinary people. Despite past increases in the price of fuel, the road networks have collapsed, pipe borne water has vanished, electricity supply remains largely epileptic, joblessness has risen and poverty greatly aggravated.
Already, as a result of the latest subsidy removal, the cost of transportation has increased astronomically while the costs of goods, electricity generation and services have started going up as the multiplier effects of the high fuel prices rapidly spread across all sectors of the economy and our daily life.
Finance Minister, Okonjo Iweala has claimed that money saved from the removal of the so-called oil subsidy will be invested in building infrastructure. This is an utter deception. It is only a fool that would be taken in by it. Okonjo Iweala, an IMF/World Bank arch-agent, does not deserve being accorded an iota of trust by Nigerians. She told Nigerians on a live TV programme, just a few days to the end of year, that the policy would not take effect in January but in April 2012. Nigerians woke up on the New Year day for the shocker petrol price rising from N65 to about N150.
The same Okonjo-Iweala told Nigerians in 2005 that the savings realized from debt servicing after gifting a whopping sum of $12 billion to the Paris Club in 2005 would be used to build infrastructures. Since then the state of infrastructure has not just deteriorated further but also about $40billion has been accumulated as debt. Okonjo-Iweala does not care about the welfare of ordinary Nigerians; remember she insisted on being paid in US dollars ($240,000 per month) when she first served as Finance Minister under Obasanjo; this time round she agreed to a new term as Jonathan’s Finance Minister just after the law was changed to allow ministers and other top public officials to operate foreign currency bank accounts.
Nigeria is an oil producing nation and the sixth (6th) biggest exporter of crude oil; but her four refineries are non-functional, working abysmally below capacity, despite gulping over N3 billion for turnaround maintenance.
The truth is that the ruling elite have deliberately run the refineries aground in order to sell them to themselves as scraps and make the economy rely on fuel importation which offers quick and super profits. Diesel and Kerosene have been deregulated and yet sell for N150 and N140 respectively contrary to the lies told to Nigerians that deregulation will bring down the prices.
The government always says the masses should make sacrifices so that the country can move forward whereas the ruling elite are busy looting the resources of this country. The government argued that the existing oil “subsidy” was being stolen, but instead of punishing the criminal looters (cabals), they now punish the vast majority of Nigerians. About N1billion was budgeted for food alone in the presidency in 2012, which amounts to about N3 million a day. About 17,000 political office holders across the federation earn about N1.4 trillion in a year (averagely N7million each per month) whereas workers who create wealth are paid a paltry minimum wage of N18, 000 per month.
Labour must fight for a holistic approach to the resolution of the problem, primarily by placing the oil sector together with other key sectors of the economy under public ownership with strict democratic control and management by the elected committees of workers and consumers. In the final analysis, the problem of perennial problems in the oil sector can only be resolved through the combined ownership of the oil sector under democratic control and management of the working class. This is the only practical way to ensure that public enterprises are run efficiently without bureaucratic strangulation and official corruption.
Presently all the ruling political parties (PDP, ACN, APGA, ANPP etc) are parties for deregulation; this especially raises the necessity and importance of building an alternative working class political party which would be interested and capable of implementing such a pro-poor working masses program. Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) despite its hypocritical opposition to fuel hike is not in any way different from the PDP; it has implemented similar anti-poor policies on the people of Lagos State and elsewhere. For example, Babatunde Fashola has imposed toll on the Lekki-Epe Express road despite mass opposition of Lagosians, sponsored thugs and police to beat up and detain protesters and journalists. The same government increased school fees in Lagos State University (LASU) from between N25,000 and N65,000 to between N193,750 to N348,750, a policy meant to commercialize education and deny children of the working class and poor background education.
FORM ACTION COMMITTEES AT WORK PLACES AND IN THE COMMUNITIES
The overwhelming majority of the working people are opposed to the current fuel price hike. The question now is what should be done now? Labour’s call for an unlimited general strike from January 9 is, in a way, already starting to happen as the groundswell of protest and anger from below is bringing many parts of Nigeria to a standstill. What will it take to win this battle, victory meaning at the very least the reintroduction of the fuel subsidy? Nigeria has seen many general strikes, threats of general strikes and mass rallies since 2000. Many have been well supported, but often they have not even won temporary victories. All too often the Labour leaders have agreed to rotten or empty deals with the government rather than sustain a determined struggle to win. This must not happen again. Pressure and activity must be built from below to sustain the struggle, maintain a watch on any wavering Labour leaders and, if necessary, take initiatives to pursue the struggle.
This is why, in order to ensure proper mobilization and coordination of the struggle to reverse this anti-poor policy, we in the DSM call for immediate formation of action/struggle committees to implement and sustain the struggle at work places and communities. It will also enable the masses to make democratic, organized contributions to the protests including decisions on how to run, call off the action, as well as the tactics and strategies to be adopted.
More than any other time, and especially against the background of mounting sectarian violence in the country, the working masses across Nigeria need to be united in their resolve to reject and change the government of super rich that is responsible for their woes and miseries.
Labour and all pro-masses organizations must come to the realization that the present capitalist government at the federal, state and local government level will remain perpetually anti-people and cannot move the economy forward. Hence, there is a dire need to build a mass working class political party, which aims to establish a workers’ and poor peoples’ government that would carry out an alternative socialist program that will enable the democratic planning of all resources to meet the needs of all as against the profit of a few. This entails nationalizing the commanding heights of the economy (oil, gas, steel, banks etc) under democratic control and management of workers and consumers.
2011 saw revolutions begin in Tunisia and Egypt. They are not completed yet, but they already showed how mass action can remove corrupt rulers. Here in Nigeria a similar movement is possible. The DSM, an organization that ultimately fights for the socialist transformation of the society, will do everything it can to build the movement to reverse the fuel price hike and, at the same time, strive for a socialist revolution that can open the way to transforming the country and giving an example to working people and youth in other countries to follow in the common struggle against capitalism and imperialism.