PRESS STATEMENT; Issued, Jan 1, 2012

RESIST THE FUEL PRICE HIKE!

Dare to struggle! Dare to win!

The Federal Government of Nigeria increased the pump price of petrol from N65 to N141 per litre, on January 1. This was in utter contempt of the demonstrated rejection of its plans to deregulate by the mass of Nigerians. To make us lower our guard, the FGN gave the view that it would not remove the so-called subsidy until April.   We however remain unshaken in our resolve to RESIST!

It is obvious there was no subsidy on petrol. What government simply seeks to achieve is to increase petrol price and provide conducive environment for capitalist players in the oil sector to make super-mega profits at our peril. Consider the following facts: 445,000 barrels of crude oil are reserved for refining for domestic consumption. Currently, only 170, 000 barrels of crude oil per day are refined internally while the balance of 275,000 is sold for refining externally and the products imported. When all costs and allowable profit margins are considered, experts have shown that the selling price of petrol/litre (from the crude oil refined internally) should not be more than N34 but it was sold at N65/litre & has now been jacked up to N141! So, where was the subsidy?

As for the imported petrol from the quantity sold or exchanged in trade by barter externally, the landing cost claimed by government (N140/litre) is less than the proceeds realized from sale (N184/litre). This is because the minimum price at which a barrel of crude oil has been sold and the projected minimum price of crude oil per barrel is $90/barrel. A refined barrel of crude oil gives 78 litres of petrol, apart from other quantities of kerosene, diesel, etc. This means proceeds from a litre of petrol is $1.15 or N184, at the exchange rate of $1=N160.

There is no justifiable reason why we must pay even up to N65 per litre for petrol, being the sixth largest crude oil producer in the world and number one in Africa, when the average rate of petrol per lire in other oil producing countries is just N34. In many countries, it is even much less than this average with a litre of petrol in Brazil and Venezuela for example costing just N4.50 & N5.00 respectively, despite higher workers’ wages.

It is thus criminal that petrol punp price has now been increased by 117% with rising (youth) unemployment, decreasing levels of industrial productivity & increasing poverty in the land. This is a slap on our faces & a step in the wrong direction, which we will not take!

The issue actually goes beyond whether or not there was a subsidy at the rate of N65 per litre of petrol. The capitalist rulers want to make us pay for the crisis of their exploitative system. Increasing fuel pump prices, deregulation and privatisation are ways by which the capitalist ruling class wants to make working people & the poor to pay for the crisis of capitalism. We must RESIST all of this. The first “key fact about subsidy” according to Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the World Bank’s unofficial Prime Minister for Nigeria is that whereas prices of petroleum products ought to be fixed by the forces of demand and supply, they are fixed arbitrarily by government. But the supposedly objective law of demand and supply is a big lie! The “free” market is a figment of their imagination! Corporations and governments, in defence of capitalism, have been using their political power to ensure that profits(and supernormal profits) are maximised.

Curiously, the FGN, which is a government of the rich, claims that it is a cartel of the wealthy that benefits from the “subsidy” and it is so concerned about the poor that it wants to save N1.3trillion to better our lot. The first logical action government should take is to arrest and prosecute members of the cartel. But government considers them ‘untouchable’ while the masses are ‘touchable’! The masses know that this condemnable increase in the price of fuel will lead to increases in the prices of other goods and services, thus compounding pervasive poverty. The place to start with saving funds for development should be by reducing income inequality. Mr Sanusi Lamido, the CBN Governor had earlier informed the nation that the Federal legislators alone consume 25% of total national recurrent expenditure. If you add this to the amounts appropriated for the executive, which include so many redundant “advisers” & “assistants”, not to talk of corrupt enrichment through the contract system, the few political office holders enjoy a large chunk of the entire national budget. No public officer serving us should earn more than the average wage of workers!

All over the world, working people are rising to fight back against capitalism, deregulation and privatisation. Resistance and revolution defined 2011 and will further stamp the way forward in 2012. In Nigeria, this anti-people deregulation as 2012 begins is a call to action for the labour movement & all well-meaning Nigerians. We must resist it to the last!

We must also always remember that, to bring an end to our continued exploitation and oppression, we must emancipate ourselves by overthrowing the anti-people capitalist system and building a socialist society based on mass action and cooperation, in solidarity with working people across the world.

Dare to struggle, dare to win!  Workers and youths; unite and fight! For revolution from below!

Sgd
Baba Aye
National Chairperson
Socialist Workers League

 

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