Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Fuel Price, VAT: Workers and Poor Masses Must Resist the Increase


Fuel Price, VAT: Workers and Poor Masses Must Resist the Increase

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) strongly condemns the recent fuel price increase from N65 to N75 per litre. We call on labour and pro-masses organisations to lead workers and poor masses to resist this new increase.

The immediate past Obasanjo government just two days prior to the expiration of its tenure increased the pump price of petrol. This latest increase was the eleventh time the anti-poor, Obasanjo government had increased the fuel price before leaving office. It was met with the price of petrol at N20 in 1999 and left with it at N75 in 2007; a 275% price increase.

Obasanjo’s administration did not limit its parting neo-liberal attacks on poor working masses to fuel price increase; it also raised Value Added Tax (VAT), which virtually affects the prices of all articles, from 5% to 10%.

In the same period that Obasanjo inflicted excruciating suffering on the poor masses, the fortune of the country rose, as a result of the high price of crude oil in the world market. With only the possible exception of the oil boom era of the mid 1970s, no government amassed so huge wealth from the sales of crude oil as Obasanjo’s. Nigeria realises $200 million per day from the sales of crude oil alone. Yet, there is nothing to show for this fabulous wealth. Selling crude oil at a much higher price than the budget benchmark of $40 per barrel has meant a huge excess revenue and phenomenal foreign reserve at disposal of the government.

But these huge resources of the country are not committed to basic needs of the poor working masses. Obasanjo left the state of electricity worse than he met it in 1999. People rely on generators run on expensive fuel to generate power for business and living. As a result, the cost of doing business is so high that many have closed shops. For artisans, with feeble financial base, but who need electricity for their occupation, the life has been a hell.

Though no official reason has been given for the latest increase, it is not unconnected to the resolve of the government to satisfy profit interest of the new buyers of the nation’s refineries equally sold a few days prior to the hand over to Obasanjo’s Transcorp and the likes.

This is why labour should fight for total transformation of the prevailing unjust capitalist system where masses wallow in irredeemable misery in the midst of super abundance. In this respect, labour should fight for a socialist society where the commanding heights of the economy including finance will be commonly owned and democratically managed and controlled by the working masses. This will ensure that the fabulous wealth being presently looted and wasted by a few will be used to provide permanent decent living for all.

Therefore, we demand that government immediately reverse the increase in fuel price and VAT. The huge wealth generated from the sales of crude oil and other means should be used to guarantee provision of basic needs like quality education, health care, good roads, electricity, housing, etc., for workers and poor masses.

Consequently, we call on the Labour and Civil Society Organisation (LASCO) comprising the NLC, TUC and JAF, along with other pro-masses organisations to begin the process of fighting back with a aim of reversing the increment in the price of fuel. The struggle against fuel price hike should be linked with a struggle against the overall anti-poor, neo-liberal economic reforms of the PDP/Yar’Adua government. More imperatively, labour and pro-masses, organisations should build a mass working class political alternative that is opposed to anti-poor, neo-liberal policies to challenge for power in order to ultimately protect the economic, social and political interest of the workers and poor masses.

Segun Sango
General Secretary
Democratic Socialist Movement