Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
The Federal Government has taught Nigerians a lesson that it should not be trusted! Government deceived the masses that fuel price increase would be effected on April 1. But the Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, in a Press Release dated 1/1/2012, has sadistically announced a punitive New Year gift that ‘formal removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS)’ has commenced with effect from 1 January 2012. In effect, petrol is to be sold at rates ‘to be published fortnightly and posted at the PPPRA website’. The government has decided to increase petrol price by force without providing answers to incidences of corruption in the industry.
The PPPRA Press Release is illegal, as it violates S. 2 of the PPPRA Act. Section 2 establishes a Governing Board for the PPPRA, which includes representatives of NLC, TUC, NURTW, NUPENG and PENGASSAN, among others. This Board has not met to take decisions on the new policy. The Executive Secretary lacks the power to unilaterally declare pricing policy. Nigeria is no longer under military dictatorship. We must fight!
We reiterate that there is no subsidy on petrol. Government simply seeks to increase petrol price and provide conducive environment for the operation of private refineries. 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 is was being sold at N65/litre. So, where was the subsidy? Now, according to the PPPRA, petrol is to be sold at rates ‘to be published fortnightly and posted at the PPPRA website’. 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 ($90 divided by 78).
There is no justifiable reason why Nigerians must pay above N34 per litre for petrol. 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. For example, a litre of petrol in Brazil and Venezuela costs just N4.50 & N5.00 respectively, despite higher workers’ wages.
The issue actually goes beyond whether or not there is a subsidy on petrol. 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. According to Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the World Bank’s unofficial Prime Minister for Nigeria, 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! 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 any increase on 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.
All over the world, working people are rising to fight back against capitalism, deregulation and privatisation. Oppressed people of Nigeria must fight to emancipate themselves just as the masses in other countries are putting up stiff resistance, as part of the process to overthrow the anti-people capitalist system and build 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!
Issued by Socialist Workers League © January, 2012