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Socialist Democracy April - May 2003 | Index

END FUEL SCARCITY, NO TO PRICE INCREASE

 

The current fuel scarcity across the country has subjected the poor masses to yet another hardship to the already horrible living conditions of millions of Nigerians. Long queues of vehicles and motorists are at stations looking for fuel. The scarcity like every other ones has led to increase in the cost of transportation. Before now, transport fares have jumped up by between 50%-100% on most routes in cities, towns and rural areas. There is also rise in the prices of goods and services.

At the onset spokespersons of government attributed the return of fuel scarcity to the handiwork of saboteurs who are allegedly hell bent on scuttling the re-election bid of President Obasanjo. Later, the NNPC group managing director, Gaius Obaseki blamed the situation in the international oil market as a result of the face-off between the US and Iraq.

Now the fact is that in this market driven economy system, that is capitalist system, the major aim is to make profit at the expense of the poor working people. The basic problem is that the country’s four refineries are not functioning, the oil companies have been exporting crude oil and importing refined petroleum products. Even if they are functioning at full capacity, it is doubtful whether they can meet the nation’s refined fuel needs.

It is the general underdevelopment of neo-colonial capitalism in Nigeria and the profit to be made from fuel importation, which lie behind the frequent collapse of the refineries. In the course of importing refined fuel, millions of dollars profits are made by those in the business, the capitalist elite and the multinational oil companies. It pays them more to import fuel rather than building refineries in Nigeria and process crude oil not only for domestic use but even for export.

As a result of the Bush’s imperialist war against Iraq, many countries have obviously started stockpiling oil for their domestic consumption and stopped the sales of the refined oil to other nations as a precaution in case the war grads for long and oil supplies are disrupted. This has confirmed the position of anti-war campaigners and socialists that the ultimate impact of the war will be to further compound economic depression, mass poverty, mass retrenchment of workers, increased unemployment, hunger etc among the already suffering majority of people.

It is also been speculated that the oil are clamouring for pump price to be raised again, threatening to stop importation if the government should refuse. Prices as high as N37 per litre compared to the present N26 per litre are being speculated. It would be recalled that since the inception of this government in 1999, Obasanjo administration has increased twice the prices of petroleum products but this has not bring any lasting succor to the country’s oil industry.

Therefore we in the DSM call on the labour movement, youths, students, professionals and other change-seeking individuals to organise ourselves in order to demand an end to this incessant fuel scarcity and any proposed hike in pump price. The strike action organised by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) in February February, 2003, in support of the oil workers' far-reaching demands for autonomy and for a stop of irregular payment of salaries and other benefits, demonstrated again the potential power of the working class to fight for the masses and to transform the society.

The NLC must wake-up and lead the campaign and organise general strike, mass rallies and protests to mobilize workers and other oppressed strata to put an end to fuel scarcity and any attempt to increase price of petroleum products. To put an end to these anti-poor policies, the working people must demand for workers' democratic control and management of not only the oil companies and the entire petroleum industry but also other commanding heights of the nation's economy such as banks and big companies. Only through the public ownership of the country’s natural resources under democratic control and management of working people can these vast natural and human resources be optimally used to provide for the needs of the poor masses.

 

 

 

 

Socialist Democracy April - May 2003 | Index