Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

CDWR Condemns Hike in Petrol and Electricity Prices

NLC and TUC Rotten Compromise and Official Acceptance of Deregulation and Privatisation Emboldened the Buhari Regime

We demand an end to Deregulation and Privatisation Policies; for a public sector-led economy under the democratic control and management of workers and consumers

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) condemns the increase in petrol price from N162 to N170 per litre; we also condemn hike in electricity tariff by over 100%. There is no doubt that these increments will worsen the rising cost of living and deepen poverty. The rising cost of living in the last 7 months alone has wiped out the N30,000 minimum wage, more so when some states are yet to implement the minimum wage while the rightwing labour leaders feel unconcerned. Nigerian workers and the poor masses are groaning under the weight of anti-masses neo-liberal capitalist policies, there is increasingly mass suffering in the midst of abundance.

The rotten compromise by rightwing leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their official acceptance of Deregulation and Privatisation have emboldened the Buhari regime and the capitalist ruling elite to increase prices and continue the attack on living conditions of the vast majority of workers and the poor masses. These rightwing labour leaders will not be affected by these attacks because they are aristocrats whose living conditions are far and above that of rank and file workers.

Although, the Ayuba Wabba-led NLC and Olaleye-led TUC have each issued a statement condemning the new hike in petrol price, these are face-saving responses, they are only playing to the gallery; it is not new as the Congresses leadership do nothing beyond the issuance of press statements, workers and the poor masses read these statements with scorn and derision as NLC and TUC have become a joke and their leaders are seen as a bunch of betrayals. The NLC and TUC leaders agreed in writing that “to the dire financial circumstances of the Federation” meant there was no alternative to the Federal Government’s policies, in other words saying that they were wrong in calling a general strike against the effects of these policies. The fact is that officially agreeing and endorsing deregulation and privatization is a betrayal of the working class. The NLC and TUC leaders

The official document that was released by labour and government on September 27, 2020, made clear that the rightwing labour leaders, led by Ayuba Wabba and Olalekan Olaleye, agreed to a rotten deal that accepted deregulation of the downstream oil sector in exchange for very ridiculous and insulting palliatives that will have no bearing on the living conditions of workers let alone the vast majority of the suffering masses.

The worthless palliatives Ayuba Wabba got as a result of futile negotiation is an indication of a leadership that has joined the dubious ruling elite to exploit workers. To show that Ayuba Wabba-led rightwing reactionary leadership is playing games with Nigerian workers look at the letter it issued to Presidents and General Secretaries of the affiliated unions and dated September 16, 2020, in preparation for September 28, 2020 general strike. This letter stated that Buhari-led government failed to implement its promise, anchored on its Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP), to refine 70% of petroleum products locally. But just 11 days later Wabba and co. somersaulted on September 27, 2020 and agreed that the same failed government should rehabilitate refineries after deregulation has been accepted by Labour. These rightwing labour leaders are speaking from both sides of their mouth, they are playing ostrich with Nigerians.

Deregulation and privatisation simply means handing over the oil and power sectors to private companies and allowing the market forces to determine the prices. In line with this new market pricing, the price of petrol and other petroleum products will soar, electricity tariff will skyrocket under the impact of the continuous devaluation of Nigerian currency (Naira), weak infrastructure and a possible rise in crude oil price. Refineries were left comatose to allow private oil companies to remain in the business of exploiting the people. The current appalling state of the refineries is a product of deliberate sabotage by the capitalist state aimed at sustaining the massive exploitation of the vast majority and these labour leaders know this. Now Dangote and others are preparing to profit from this. In this same vein, the more money spent on the power sector, the more darkness is supplied, the electricity tariff should be coming down rather than going up if over $20 billion spent was well spent. Rather, a chunk of this public funds for investment have been stolen, leaving consumers at the mercy of greedy and rapacious electricity companies (DISCOs and GENCOs).

Some of these tokenist palliatives, even if they take off, will amount to too little with no effect; what effect will 133 buses have in the lives of Nigerian workers? At best, these rightwing labour leaders will mismanage 133 buses into their pocket, the same way Labour City Transport Services was mismanaged. It is shameless for the rightwing labour leaders to rely on a failed palliative, a concept the government uses to deceive the masses. Similarly, we have not forgotten the housing scheme spearheaded by the NLC and that became a scandal when many unsuspecting workers lost their money. One of the reasons these rightwing labour leaders went for “palliatives” is because it is an avenue to enrich themselves; secondly, it gives them the alibi not to challenge Buhari’s government and the capitalist ruling elite.

The rightwing labour leaders are also failing Nigerian workers when they come under attack by management and that explains the reason casualization, outsourcing and other indecent labour practices are widespread. The same way Ayuba Wabba-led leadership entered into a rotten deal with the government, these rightwing leaders also enter into a rotten deal with private employers of labour in enslaving Nigerian workers- it is unfortunate.

Workers and the poor masses must begin the struggle to defeat the deregulation of the oil sector and privatization of the power sector. Workers must also fight to rescue the trade unions from these rightwing reactionary trade union leaders, bring about a fighting leadership, restore democracy in the trade unions and use the unions to defend the rights and interests of workers and the poor masses.

The CDWR demands the reversal of petrol price to N87 and electricity tariff to N13 kwh as a step towards bringing down the price further. We demand the turnaround of the existing four refineries and building of new ones. Dangote’s new refinery should be nationalised to prevent him profiting from a government created shortage. The oil and gas industry, power sector and other commanding heights of the economy should be nationalized under the management and control of workers and consumers in order to plan the use of resources to end this monumental exploitation, looting and suffering in the midst of plenty.

Comrade Rufus Olusesan

National Chairperson

Comrade Chinedu Bosah

National Publicity Secretary

E-mail: [email protected]