THE ANNOUNCED PETROL PRICE HIKE IS A DRESS REHEARSAL OF WHAT IS TO COME
WORKING MASSES AND YOUTH SHOULD ORGANIZE MASSIVELY TO CHALLENGE ANY HIKE IN PETROL PRICE; PREVAIL ON NLC AND TUC LEADERSHIP TO WITHDRAW THEIR ENDORSEMENT OF DEREGULATION AND COMMENCE MOBILISATION FOR MASS ACTION
It was not surprising that the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) announced a price hike of petrol from N168 to N212 per litre on Thursday, March 11, 2021. Incessant hikes in pump price of petrol have become the stock-in-trade for the Buhari-led government to inflict economic suffering on working masses and the poor. Although, the price hike was later denied by NNPC and the Minister of State for Petroleum on March 12, 2021 after a widespread public outcry, this is nothing to celebrate. The NNPC only stated that there would be no increase in March 2021 but could not guarantee that the retail price would not go up in the future.
Before the announced increase and till this moment, the oil marketers in collaboration with top public officials in the downstream oil sector have created artificial scarcity as a way to force up the price of petrol. In some major cities, long queues have returned to the petrol stations triggering panic buying.
This is a warning to the labour leaders who have supported deregulation policy, but at the same time are in negotiation with the government over the appropriate petrol price, that such an approach cannot work. Rather they should withdraw their endorsement of the deregulation policy, something they did anyway without any democratic discussion and decision taken at the appropriate organs of NLC and TUC, demand the building of adequate public refineries, which are democratically controlled by workers, and consistently organize and mobilize mass resistance against any fuel price hike.
The petrol price has been increased 5 times in the last ten months with its attendant negative effect on cost of living. In the same vein, the electricity tariff was increased from N21/KWH to N37/ KWH in September 2020. The rising cost of living is excruciating and thereby further impoverishs the poor masses.
Nigeria is the only major oil-producing country without a functional public refinery and thereby imports refined petroleum products while subjecting Nigerians to international pricing. The four public refineries have been rendered non-functional deliberately so that importation of petroleum products will be sustained and guarantee huge profit for oil marketers. Even when Dangote Refinery becomes operational, the price will be high. The current price of cement in the country which is the highest among most Africa countries is a pointer to what awaits the working people once the Dangote refinery commences operation.
The current high petrol price and electricity tariff together with the incessant increases is a product of capitalist policies of deregulation and privatization. Capitalism as a system prioritizes the profit of a privileged few at the expense of the vast majority working masses and the poor.
Unfortunately, it is the class collaboration by the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their endorsement of anti-poor policies (deregulation, privatization etc.) that have emboldened the Buhari’s government and the capitalist ruling elite to unleash more economic attacks on the people.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) calls on trade union leaders to end their class collaboration with the capitalist ruling elite; immediately withdraw their endorsement of neo-liberal policies (deregulation, privatization etc.) and begin the mobilization of the working people to resist the economic attacks unleashed on them on daily basis. Therefore, again we call on the leadership of NLC and TUC to organize a one-day general strike and mass protest to warn Buhari government against the planned increase in petrol price and to demand the reversal of the electricity tariff hike and end to exploitative electricity billing.
We also call on NLC, TUC, pro-masses’ organizations and socialist groups to organize a political summit with the aim of rebuilding a pan Nigeria mass working people political party to challenge the bourgeois ruling elite, defeat it and finally put an end to this iniquitous and exploitative capitalist system. Only a socialist planned economy including the public ownership of the major industries/sectors under the control and management of the working people can guarantee a better living standard, economic growth, development and also, meet the needs of all.
Abiodun Bamigboye Chinedu Bosah
Acting National Chairperson National Secretary