· We call on NLC and TUC to Declare A ‘Day of Mass Mobilization’ with 24-hour Warning Strike
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) strongly rejects any attempt of governments at all levels to increase the pump price of petrol under the guise of removing fuel subsidy. According to newspaper reports, the Federation Account Allocation Committee, comprising state governments and federal government economic teams, met on 15 April, 2014 to agree to total removal of the so-called subsidy and consequently increase in fuel price. We see this as another attempt of capitalist governments at all levels to introduce through the back door a policy that has been overwhelmingly rejected by working class people since January 2012, when millions of Nigerians poured to the streets to reject attempt to make life more difficult for them.
We call on the leadership of the labour movement and pro-labour organization to start conscious mobilization of the working and oppressed people to reject this policy. We call on labour movement to declare a 24-hour Warning Strike, and a ‘Day of Mass Mobilization’ with protests and rallies across the country, to build up mass movement against this planned onslaught.
We find the argument of the state and federal governments for the removal of the co-called subsidy as not only ridiculous but also hypocritical. The FAAC argues that the subsidy has become a drainpipe on the state resources, which is used to subsidize the profits of the fuel importers. While it is true that the country’s resources are being stolen through fuel importation; it is our contention that this is indeed a product of the bankruptcy of the capitalist governments at all levels. Since 2012 when NLC and TUC called off the strike and protests, no tangible improvement has been witnessed in the conditions of the state-owned oil corporation, NNPC, especially in terms of its refining capacity. This is the background to the continued reliance on fuel importation. It is a shame on the ruling l class that a country that is a leading crude oil producer cannot refine its own oil for its citizens. Worse still, the NNPC could not even directly import fuel need of the country such that government has to hand over state resources to private importers under dubious fuel subsidy.
Clearly, capitalists in government and big business deliberately destroyed NNPC with the aim of creating cheap wealth for the rich few in importing while also diverting public resources to private end. Nothing exemplifies than that trillions of naira that have been looted through oil subsidy and other scams. For instance, over $7 billion was reported to have been paid for kerosene subsidy, yet the price of kerosene has more than doubled, while EFCC has only recovered less than N5 billion from over N400 billion reported to have been looted by subsidy fraudsters and their government allies. In fact, the House of Representatives’ Committee that probed the fuel subsidy claimed that well over N1.4 trillion could not be accounted for in the subsidy regime. Just recently, the ousted CBN governor announced that over $20 billion could not be accounted for by NNPC. It is not surprising that the FAAC, which is composed of anti-poor capitalist elements and treasury looters, is not so concerned about wastage and could not demand the immediate recovery of these monies, but would rather demand further economic attack on the working people.
The same state governments that were so much “concerned” about wealth disparity has not opposed the huge salaries and emoluments for politicians, which gulp as much as N1 trillion yearly. The argument that ending subsidy regime will provide money for state governments to embark on pro-poor people’s policies is false and fraudulent. According to the FAAC, about N956 billion supposedly saved under the SURE-P has been shared by federal and state government since 2012; yet there is practically nothing to show by any tier of government for this huge amount. Millions of people are still unemployed, infrastructures are still decrepit, minimum wage for workers has not been fully implemented while pensioners continue to die in misery. At the same rate, public education is being daily priced out of the reach of the poor and working people while health facilities are still in horrible states across the country. Epileptic power supply has only got worse. Now, the same set of politicians that have mismanaged public funds expect working and poor people to pay more for their failure and looting?
For us in the SPN, while we reject handing over public resources to a fraudulent fuel-importing cartel, we at the same time fiercely oppose any attempt at adding to the suffering of the people through obnoxious hike in fuel prices. We demand that building of new refineries, and NNPC and nation’s refineries must be placed under democratic control of workers so as to ensure adequate refining capacity to supply cheap fuel for all Nigerians without need for importation. We demand that oil sector should be put under democratic public ownership, as a way of ensuring that the resources of the country are used for the interests of the majority.
We hold that the latest attempt of the state and federal governmentsto increase fuel prices has further shown that capitalist politicians in all the ruling political parties are united in their anti-poor policies and ideologies. This is clearly shown by the fact that none of the so-called opposition-controlled state governments opposed this planned assault at the FAAC. The leading capitalist opposition party, APC, despite blowing hot against removal of subsidy, has its governors agreeing to the removal of subsidy at the FAAC.
Thus, we call on labour movement to begin the process of building political alternative through a new Working People’s Party on socialist program, which will aim to oust the current set of anti-poor and corrupt capitalist politicians at all levels, and establish a working people’s government committed to the welfare of the people. We in the SPN are prepared to work with labour movement towards this end.