SPN BLAMES THE FAILURE OF CAPITALISM AND THE BUHARI GOVERNMENT FOR THE SCARCITY OF PETROL AND CASH
TIME FOR MASS ACTION TO RESIST THESE ATTACKS
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the ongoing socio-economic hardships imposed on working people by the Buhari-led government and calls for mass resistance to reverse the situation. At present, it is extremely difficult for ordinary people to access cash (banknotes) for their daily transactions, something that has compounded the already terrible situation that the country has been plunged into with the many months of acute petrol scarcity and exorbitant prices. This scarcity of petrol and banknotes has worsened the pre-existing cost of living crisis.
We welcome a pocket of protest actions that have broken out in a number of cities across the country. However, we condemn violent attacks on bank premises or any property. We call on the trade unions and pro-masses’ organisations to provide coordination and leadership by initiating a programme of mass activities, including protests and a 24-hour general strike, to demand an immediate three-month extension of the banknote hand-over period and adequate provision of petrol at the current official price.
Meanwhile, we condemn the statement credited to the outgoing president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that the trade union federation is not prepared to do anything against the current fuel scarcity. However, we are not surprised given the fact that the outgoing leadership of the NLC has never lived up to its historical obligation of defending the interests of the working people. This statement shows that the present and old NLC leaders have not always wanted to struggle despite occasionally sounding radical and making radical statements. We call on the new leadership of the NLC that will emerge from its delegate conference holding on February 8 to act differently by being prepared to always defend the interests and rights of the working people. Nevertheless, workers, activists, socialists and pro-labour organizations must begin the discussion on how to rescue the trade union movement from the domination of its current rightwing leaders and build it as a fighting and democratic movement
The working people need a fight back against this backward government and ruling elite. The petrol scarcity has become severe such that motorists and other buyers sometimes spend the whole day queuing and struggling to get the product which is essential for businesses and home. We hold that the scarcity of petrol and the attendant high prices hovering between N300 and N650 was a deliberate gimmick by the government and oil marketers to officially increase petrol prices and deregulate petrol under the guise of removing the phantom and fraudulent subsidy; this must be resisted!
We equally note that diesel prices have gone through the roof and remain high contrary to the false hope created by the ruling elite that deregulation with its attendant competition would bring down the prices. The oil marketers have constituted themselves into cartels in order to keep the price so high for the sake of super profit. We call on the working people to reject the current price hikes and the planned deregulation.
Also, a huge concern is the paralysis in the financial sector which has lasted for more than a week and the problems are in multiple folds. While there is an acute scarcity of the redesigned N1000, N500 and N200 denominations, the old notes are being withdrawn from circulation. Yet, the network is not reliable which makes it difficult for people to do online transfers. As a result, many people have been forced to beseech ATM machines and banking halls and yet cannot access their own money. Even the Point of Sale (POS) operators equally ran out of cash, forcing many operators to close down while the few who have cash had to increase charges. These financial crises have put the economy at a standstill while many could not do simple transactions while many workers in the informal sector are currently being owed salaries. The CBN claims that it has issued enough money to the commercial banks, but the banks have denied this – a typical buck-passing.
This current crisis further underscores the fact that the capitalist ruling elite are so backward and primitive that cannot carry out the most basic tasks of capitalism. They could not seamlessly make available ordinary banknotes which are basic means of exchange and also could not provide adequate petrol despite Nigeria being one of the world’s biggest crude oil producers. Yet, the three leading candidates have promised to continue the same neo-liberal capitalist program which is a major reason for the anti-poor policies and failure of the successive governments.
Therefore, we call on working people and youth to link protests against the current crisis and anti-poor policies in general to the need for a mass working people political party with a socialist programme that can both lead immediate struggles for improvement while arguing for a fundamental change. Specifically, the aim is to wrest political power from the backward and thieving capitalist elite and form a workers and poor people’s government that will use the huge human and material resources of the country to provide the basic needs of the vast majority and not the profits of the capitalists.
As far as we are concerned in SPN, this is the job that needs to be done after the coming elections irrespective of who wins because these elections will not solve Nigeria’s many crises.
Acting National Chairperson