NO TO HIKE IN PETROL PRICE AND NO TO DEVALUATION OF THE NAIRA!
SPN BLAMES TINUBU’S RECKLESS PRONOUNCEMENT ON SUBSIDY REMOVAL FOR THE SUDDEN RETURN OF HIKE IN PETROL PRICE AND LONG QUEUE
NLC, TUC AND PRO-MASSES ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD BEGIN MASS MOBILISATION TO RESIST ALL ANTI-PEOPLE POLICIES
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 29, 2023 used his inaugural speech to leave nobody in doubt of his resolve to unleash anti-poor capitalist attacks on working people and the poor in the name of economic reforms. Just like he did during the campaign, Tinubu in the inaugural speech reiterated his readiness to remove fuel subsidy and further devalue the Naira under the guise of a unified foreign exchange rate. These two anti-people policies (petrol price increase and devaluation of the Naira) will have further devastating consequences for already poor living standards of working people. Besides, the cost of production and service will go up astronomically while many small and medium businesses will be affected by its attendant consequence of higher inflation and job losses.
A few hours after the inaugural speech, long queues returned to petrol stations and the price of petrol went up from N200 to between N300 to N600 per litre. Many working people were stranded at bus stops this morning (May 30, 2023) because there were not enough buses and cabs on the road to convey people and the transport cost suddenly went up. If this suffering can be unleashed within the first 24 hours of Tinubu’s regime, one would better imagine what is to be expected in the next 4 years.
Firstly, the whole subsidy arrangement is shrouded in corruption and secrecy and as such Nigerian working people and the poor cannot independently verify the actual subsidy. Secondly, allowing the oil marketers the free will to determine petrol prices will automatically increase the price of petrol similar to the price of diesel and kerosene that are currently selling for N670 and N870 per litre respectively. Already, inflation is so high and 40 percent of Nigerians live in extreme poverty.
Tinubu also stated that the savings from subsidy removal or increment in the price of petrol will be invested in infrastructure, healthcare, education and to mitigate the hardship created. This is a lie. The ordinary people will not derive any meaningful benefit from the removal of petrol subsidy. The savings from the removal of subsidies on diesel and kerosene were never invested to mitigate the hardship created nor was there any benefit from that accrued to working people. The desperation to increase petrol price is also connected to the desire to guarantee huge profits for Dangote and oil marketers.
Tinubu also said that his administration will unify the exchange rate of Naira, which means allowing the so-called market forces to determine the exchange rate, another term for devaluation of currency. Again, allowing the private speculators to determine the exchange rate will most likely spiral higher exchange rate than the black market rate which is currently at about N770 to a dollar. As a neo-colonial backward economy that lacks the productive capacity to compete on a global stage and largely depends on imported items and consumables, the landing cost of most products will go up and further drive up inflation and cost of living.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) is opposed to a hike in petrol price as a consequence of subsidy removal and devaluation of Naira. We reiterate our age-long opposition to these policies because they will further impoverish the working people, worsen the cost of living crisis and adversely affect small and medium scale businesses including triggering job losses etc. Therefore, the SPN rejects an economy that is run mainly to meet the voracious profit interest of the big private sector players at the expense of the vast majority of working masses.
Neo-liberal policies (privatization, deregulation, liberalization etc.,) alongside other capitalist policies are responsible for the growing poverty, rising cost of living, mass joblessness, poor living and working conditions, and continuation of these anti-people policies will spell more doom for the working masses. We advocate resuscitation of all 4 public refineries and also build new ones. The only way out is to struggle for a socialist society and implementation of socialist programme that plans production and services to meet the needs of the working masses and poor. This includes nationalization programme that puts the major companies under the democratic control of the workers and community people.
We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and pro-masses organisations to begin mass mobilization as a means to resist these anti-people policies. The trade union leadership and pro-masses organizations should be prepared to mobilize for general strikes and mass protests as a way to defeat these anti-poor policies.
Acting National Chairperson
E-mail: [email protected]