Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

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Socialist Democracy July - August 2003 Index


FUEL PRICE HIKE:

NLC, NCP CALL MASS ACTION

  • For Total Reversal Of The Increment

  • For A 48-hour General Strike

  • Formation of A Strike/Struggle Committee In Every Community

There is widespread outrage and anger across the country over the recent anti-poor and callous over 50% increase in fuel prices by the Obasanjo administration. The National Conscience Party (NCP), the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and many human rights, pro-democracy and socialist groups, including the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), have called for mass action against it.

The Lagos State National Conscience Party (NCP), at its State Coordinating Council meeting held on June 21, 2003, at the Lagos NCP Secretariat after extensive deliberations on the state of the nation among other things resolved to reject and fight the recent increment in the pump price of petroleum products.

In a communiqué signed by Segun Sango, chairman, Lagos NCP, the party said it "rejects the same perennial, recycled and false reasons that have been adduced by the Obasanjo regime for the current increases in the prices of petroleum products. Contrary to the rosy pictures of expected gains being painted by government over this counter-productive and World Bank/IMF inspired policy, the increment as usual will lead to further economic depression with its attendant widespread poverty amongst the people. Whatever capitalist commentators and their neo-liberal strategists may say, the current increment will surely worsen the unemployment situation and this with the attendant escalation of crimes of all sorts. Already, price of transportation has gone up by as much as 100% in many places. In the next few days and months, prices of other goods and services will certainly go up. The logic behind the increase appears to be to inflict further pains on the Nigerian masses, make life more miserable for them and make more money available for looting and stealing by those in government and oil merchants."

" The Lagos State NCP therefore outrightly condemns the increases and calls on the working masses to resist the increases through peaceful mass actions, strikes, demonstrations and protest. The NCP accordingly resolves to work with such interest groups like workers, transporters, students, market women and human rights groups to mobilise Nigerians to fight the latest hike in prices of petroleum products".

On its part, the National Executive Committee of the NLC at its meeting held on 24th June, 2003, resolved that workers would embark on a nation-wide strike by Monday, 30th June if the unjust increases are not reversed by then.

DSM supports the call for mass action. (See editorial on page 2). We suggest that action/struggle committees be formed to mobilise the masses for effective action and also to ensure that the struggle is not subverted by hoodlums, anarchists, etc.

We in particular welcome the decision of the NLC to call a strike action over the issue. But instead of an indefinite stay-at-home strike which the NLC is planning to organise, we propose a 48-hour general strike to be called as a first step. Of course, as revolutionary socialists we want determined and bold struggles not only to defend the working people from attacks by the bosses, but to overthrow the rotten capitalist system, the basic cause of these attacks. But an indefinite strike always at a stage poses the question of which class, the capitalists or the working class, is in control of society. As such the method of indefinite strike is best used when the labour movement and its leadership is prepared to take state power. Otherwise, after some time, the strike will begin to weaken and disintegrate. It might end up as a defeat for the labour movement and create demoralisation among the working masses.

The NLC should avoid a situation such as that of January 2002 strike against fuel price increase when the NLC leaders called an indefinite strike which they called off after only two days when many sections of workers were still preparing to join the strike and no concession had been won. This has made many workers and other sections of the oppressed masses to doubt whether the NLC leaders are genuinely committed to the struggle.

But above all, the recent fuel price increase shows once again that poverty and misery will remain the lot of the masses under the prevailing capitalist system. Hence the urgent need for the NLC to break their support for the capitalist system, capitalist policies of privatisation and deregulation, and the Obasanjo regime. Instead, they should start today to build a mass, independent working people political alternative based on a socialist and anti-capitalist programme.

 

 

 

Socialist Democracy July - August 2003 Index