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For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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Fuel Crisis

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Nigeria Crisis: Time for System Change

Socialist Democracy

Newspaper of the DSM

Trade Unions

18 May 2004

National Conscience Party, Lagos State Chapter.

Press Statement

Fuel Price Increase: Time for Total Fight Back.

The contemplated fresh increase in the prices of petroleum products, which would mean the fifth in five years of Obasanjo’s regime, is a pointer to the fact that the regime is religiously committed to carrying out a comprehensive package of policies which severally and collectively only tend to attack the living standard of poorest sections of the society, especially the working class.

Already, the regime has shown that it would not allow any opposition by using police to prevent, disrupt, arrest, and detain protesters against it and its anti-people policies as exemplified by the disrupted May 3 and 15 mass protests by CNPP and Citizens’ Forum respectively. It is on record that the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has always come to the side of the poor masses to struggle against the regime’s anti-peoples policies especially the incessant increase in the prices of petroleum products. The last one was against the N1.50 fuel tax.

However, the NLC leadership should learn a big lesson from the past struggle against these increments - fight back on the one hand and little concessions on the other hand and in fact, in some cases, no concession at all. In the immediate and long run, the poor working masses will be the one at the receiving end - they will be killed by the police, their leadership arrested and molested and within a short period of time, another increase will loom.

What is therefore needed is not just a protest to get concession. Rather what is required is a mass protest to kick-start the process of regime change. As long as this regime remains, pains, poverty and misery will continue to be the lot of the poor masses.

NLC should initiate a meeting of all trade unions within and without its umbrella, civil society groups, pro-labour political parties like the NCP, NANS and other student bodies, etc to discuss and chart a comprehensive way to fight against any further increase in fuel price. But the main task should be to wrestle power from the regime to be replaced with a pro-workers and peasants government that will give priority to the needs of the mass majority like massive investment on health, education, housing, job etc for all as against pro-IMF and World Bank government of deregulation, privatization and commercialisation.

NLC should immediately commence mass mobilisation nationally through rallies, symposia, leaflets and posters to conscientise the masses on the next stage of the struggle against fuel price and hike and for regime change. This should begin with a day of national action.

Sina Odugbemi Yaya Ademola

General Secretary Education & Research Secretary