SPN SUPPORTS WARNING STRIKE BEING PROPOSED BY NLC AND TUC
SPN SUPPORTS WARNING STRIKE BEING PROPOSED BY NLC AND TUC
LABOUR SHOULD URGENTLY NAME DATES FOR THE ACTION
THE LABOUR MOVEMENT MUST LEAD THE WORKING PEOPLE OUT OF THIS SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL QUAGMIRE
NIGERIANS NEED GENUINE SOCIALIST CHANGE
Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) welcomes the decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on a one-day warning general strike to press home the demand for the reversal of the electricity tariff hike and to express opposition to the lingering scarcity of petroleum products etc.The federal government through the NERC and the Distribution companies had brazenly increased electricity tariff by between 45% and 60% despite epileptic power supply and rising poverty. The reality is that the working masses cannot afford this hike and it must be reversed. The policies of Buhari government have also in collaboration with marketers led to scarcity of petroleum products thereby imposing more suffering on Nigerians. The Buhari government and the power companies have equally refused to honour a subsisting court order by the Federal High Court against tariff hike, which is an indication that what we have is rule of the mighty who act in their own interests.
We call on NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to immediately name dates for the action and convoke a national mass meeting of labour, pro-labour organizations, community organisations, students and other social groups to discuss how to prosecute and deepen this struggle. This kind of mass meetings should be replicated at the state, local government and community levels. From these mass meetings, strike committees should be created to ensure adequate mobilization of the people for compliance and for mass participation in the strike and mass rallies.
In order to continue the campaign, after the one-day warning general strike, these action committees must continue the sensitization and mobilization for further strikes and mass actions should the federal government and the power companies refuse to revert to the old tariff. This will entail massive sensitization and mobilization of electricity consumers across the country to refuse to pay electricity bills and resist disconnection until the tariff is reversed.
The power companies (Distribution Companies and Generating Companies) have shown obvious incapacity to develop the sector on a sustainable manner such that will increase the Megawatt and adequate distribution to the electricity consumers. Power facilities and infrastructure are decaying and getting obsolete without replacement and maintenance. The Distribution Companies have deliberately refused to issue pre-paid meters to all consumers that need them because it is money spinning and more exploitative to issue outrageous estimated billing on a massive scale. Currently, virtually all communities have been thrown into darkness and yet they continue to force electricity consumers to pay the outrageous tariff! This clearly shows the obvious failure of privatization of the sector. Hence, the mass opposition to the tariff hike must include a demand for the reversal of the privatization of the power sector which entails re-nationalisation of the sector. Taking the power sector into public ownership is not enough to guarantee affordable and uninterrupted power supply, it will require democratic control and management of elected representatives of workers, experts, consumers, communities at all levels to plan and massively invest in the sector and guarantee affordable and uninterrupted power supply.
On the other hand, the Buhari government just like previous governments has demonstrated clearly that it is incapable of resolving the perennial scarcity of petroleum products. The reason is simply because the importation and distribution of petroleum products are heavily dominated by profit and private interest which invariably comes into conflict with the interests of the mass of Nigerians. Under the present order/system, getting fuel and other petroleum products must come at a cost that will only guarantee huge profit for the big and small oil marketers, the multinational oil companies, the top bureaucrats within the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and oil sector. This is the main reason the local refineries are deliberately sabotaged and made to continually work abysmally. It also explains why new refineries were built despite huge resources at the disposal of government. Just like the experience in the power sector, the complete deregulation and privatization of the downstream oil sector and NNPC will worsen an already bad situation and the NLC and TUC must resist this anti-poor plan. The labour movement should use the mass movement/strike to demand and struggle for the nationalization of the oil sector and to be placed under democratic control and management of the workers, experts and consumers/communities to block looting and ensure transparency, efficiency in the availability and affordability of petroleum products, functional refineries along with an adequate distribution infrastructure.
The rising cost of living and inflationary rate has dwarfed the earnings of workers and the masses. The N18, 000 minimum wage has been largely undermined coupled with the fact that the minimum wage is due for review since 2015. Despite the fact that the wage is very low, the governments at all levels have refused to fully implement this poverty minimum wage of N18,000 for the past 5 years. To add insult to injury, about 18,000 political office holders are earning jumbo allowances and salaries of about N1.3 trillion more than federal budget allocated to education, health and agriculture put together while refusing to pay living wage to workers. For instance, some former state governors who are currently in the National Assembly and serving Ministers are earning two jumbo salaries and allowances. Sam Amadi, the former Chairman of NERC earned N400 million as gratuity for just serving as Chairman of NERC for 5 years whereas many civil servants do not earn up to N5 million having worked for 25 years. The NLC and TUC must demand and struggle for a living wage for Nigerian workers that must be increased with the rate of inflation and rise in cost of living; the demand must also include the reduction of the outrageous earnings of political office holders to the average wage of skilled workers and the savings derived should be invested in basic infrastructure to create more jobs.
The aforementioned issues raised can only be achieved on sustainable basis if the labour movement leads an alternative mass political movement by forming a working people political party that will challenge the capitalist anti-poor political parties with the aim of transforming society along socialist lines. For decades capitalism has failed to develop Nigeria, now in a crisis period neo-liberal market policies of privatization and deregulation will throw Nigeria even further backward because capitalist profit drives production and exchange at the expense of basic needs of the vast majority toiling working masses. The only way forward is a socialist society that plans production and exchange to meet the needs of all and this entail nationalization of the commanding height of the economy including the oil, banking, steel, aviation, power etc., and massive investment in social infrastructure and industries to create jobs and meet the needs of all and these investments and the major companies must be placed under the democratic control and management of the working people.