Build New Functional Refineries or Resign Now-MSA
MSA REJECTS FG PLAN TO INCREASE FUEL PRICE
- The N5,000 Transport Allowance Is Nothing More Than Deceit
- For 24 hours, Warning General Strike to Mobilise & Prepare the Working Masses Against Any Increment
- Build New Functional Refineries or Resign Now
The President Buhari regime is once again prepared to hike the price of fuel via the claim to remove “fuel subsidy” most likely from January 2022. With the high cost of commodities and the depreciating living standard in the country, it is obvious that the ruling elites do not care for the wellbeing and survival of the millions of ordinary working masses of the country. However, General Buhari now President who has in the past criticized the previous regime of fuel subsidy removal and tagged it as “fraud” has continued with the same deceit, without exploring any alternative solution to ensuring that production of petroleum products is done locally.
In this sense, the Buhari regime is no different from the previous capitalist regimes, whose policy of importation of refined crude oil products has become the easy poly and disguise to fritter away the wealth of the country into the private pockets of the Oil Barons, and other cronies and fronts of the ruling elites at the very expense of the well being of the working masses, as opposed to making the refineries functional, or even building new ones to provide affordable fuel for the Nigerian masses. When in reality all of the huge sums that have been budgeted for this so-called fuel subsidy” since the early 1990s would have been enough to build new state-of-the-art refineries for the country.
In May 2016 (barely a year in office) the President Buhari regime increases the pump price of petrol from N87 to N145 with the argument that the government will save more for the execution of development projects for the well-being of society, and that it was ending the “fuel subsidy regime”. Sadly, with five years down the lane, the country is in a sorry state of infrastructural decay, underdevelopment, and high debt profile, and back again at the bogey of “fuel subsidy removal again”.
We in the Movement for a Socialist Alternative MSA, condemn the government plan to hike the pump price of petrol. This plan will further compound the hardship and aggravate the harsh living conditions of the people. The MSA sees this planned hike as an attack on the Nigerian people trying to survive the high cost of food commodities under this unproductive crumpled capitalist economy. The statistics from Nigeria are so alarming, that any serious government will take governance seriously and be ready to break out of neo-liberal capitalist policies that undermine the development of the economy.
IMF IMPERIALIST POLICIES AND THE N5000 TRANSPORT ALLOWANCE
A liter of fuel as from February 2022 according to the group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari will be sold at N340. That is more than a 50 percent increase from the current price. The working masses have always been on the receiving end of government neo-liberal policies. On 19th November 2021, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) through its statement of the Article IV staff Mission to Nigeria advised the Buhari regime to completely remove fuel and electricity subsidies in Nigeria. Already the regime has claimed that fuel subsidy in the country cost the government N1.8trillion yearly and argued that the huge amount would have been used to fund the critical project. The IMF knew its policy advice is anti-people that is why it suggests compensatory measures for the poor.
The Buhari government proposes a N5, 000 monthly transport for a 40 million Nigerians. This transport allowance to Nigerians is nothing but a deception to sway Nigerians to accept the unpopular policy. Unfortunately, the same government that wants to remove the huge subsidy is about to replace it with N2.4trillion transport allowance. This makes no sense and shows the lack of idea from the unproductive ruling elites. Just like the federal government programs of “trader moni”, “direct cash transfer”, the “774,000 special public work” programs all went down the drain without any meaningful impact on the well-being of ordinary working masses. The proposed transport allowance will be a waste of resources and a gimmick to siphon money for the 2023 general elections by members of the ruling elites.
REFINERY REPAIRS AND 2023 ELECTIONS
One of the campaign promises of President Buhari in 2015 is to revamp Nigeria’s four refineries to optimum capacity in order to scale down the rate of importation of refined petroleum products. But to date in 2021, about 7 years into his administration, Nigeria remains the only member-country in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting countries (OPEC) still importing petrol. As the 2023 election gets closer, the ruling elites as usual will device a means to acquire resources to fund their (re)election into office. In March 2021, the federal government approved $1.5 billion (about N600 billion) for the repairs of the Port Harcourt refinery. According to a project conducted by Hartree Partners (a financial energy firm) in 2017, the study put the cost of building an oil refinery at US$5billion. However, the Nigerian government will repair a refinery with a cost of 30% of the amount required to build a new one and according to the Buhari regime, the repairs are expected to be completed by April 2023.
According to Premium Times, a report says the Federal government has spent about $25billion on maintenance of the nation’s refineries in 25 years yet the refineries performed below expectation. In June 2020, a report put it that three refineries to have processed zero crude, cost the nation N10 billion.
The self-centered policies of this government are the result of the poor state of the economy. Currently, one in every three Nigerians who should be working is unemployed. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) unemployment rate in the country stands at 33.3% translating to about 23.2 million of the 70 million people who should be working. Invariably, making Nigeria the second highest in the world. Comparing this figure to a 4% to 6% acceptable level of unemployment in a country shows that the capitalist policies of privatization or deregulation of the economy are not suitable for the Nigerian economy. The NBS said in 2020 that 40 percent or 83 million Nigerians live in poverty (this is the population of Canada, Poland and Ghana put together). This ranks Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world. The Nigerian economy in 2020 shrank by 1.8% and the inflation rate remains at double digits of 16.63%.
A 24 HOURS WARNING GENERAL STRIKE NOW!
It is important to state that the working masses are already wearied and bitter about the labor union bureaucrats in the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress. It is still very fresh in their memory that a mobilized General Strike was called off in the wee hours September 28, 2020, on the very same day the strike was to commence, on the same subject matter without any marked reversal on the policy direction of the ruling elites. If anything the depth of the crisis in Nigeria is also traceable to the refusal of the labour leaders to provide the necessary leadership for the anger of the working masses and go on forward to even challenge the ruling elites’ hold on power with a clear alternative working people’s program of scientific socialism that would seek to end the policy of deregulation and privatization. This is a program that will employ to use the wealth and resources of the country to improve the fortunes of the economy in favour of the working masses.
The MSA herein state that the trade unions should immediately issue a notice for 24 hours Warning General Strike, and employ same to mobilize the working masses and announce the readiness to resist the planned increase of fuel prices, in preparation for a full scale and complete mobilization of both informal and formal workforce; if the regime eventually goes ahead with a threat to increase fuel prices. The warning strike’s action would help prepare the working masses, and assuage the fears and unwillingness of the working masses to heed the call of the Labour leaders to action.
The MSA also insist that a National Strike Committee made up of workers and working-class youth be put in place nationwide — from street to street, community to community, workplace to workplace — with a Coordinating Leadership from the local government/state through to the National, with the labour union bureaucrats also subjected to the authority of such a democratic organ of the working masses. It is with the task of cording the strike action, with negotiations and with the mandate of a call off of such an action. Indeed even all of the wider issues of insecurity, the insurgency in the North, the growing anarchy in the country must also be brought into focus, and clear alternatives poised as to resolving them, any refusal met with a call for the Government to immediately resign. The MSA insists that any Refusal by the Buhari regime to take up the task of providing functional refineries up to the point of building new ones should be met with the slogan of Resign Now!
When it comes to governance, painfully Neo-liberal Capitalism puts the interest of Big Business and the greed for super profits by members of the Billionaire club first as opposed to the wellbeing of the working masses, and of course the IMF and World Bank sole interest is in how resources can be saved to ensure that debt is continuously serviced. This is why the Buhari regime is bent on another fuel price increase, even when we can all recall that the May 2016 increase of fuel prices did not prevent the economy from sliding into a recession which was further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Rather than ameliorate the sufferings of the working masses, the Buhari regime is bent on squeezing them more further to their bones by milking every remaining kobo out of the pocket to guarantee more profits for Big Business, both nationally and internationally.
We urge the working masses to commence the necessary pressure in their various unions and begin to insist their unions must come into the open to offer the necessary leadership for the looming mass struggle and agitations against the increase in the pump prices of petroleum products including the cost of living. Added to it, increase in the paltry N30,000 minimum wage. Only the working class can rescue this country, with their leadership and organizations providing the necessary leadership to mobilize and organize all strata of the oppressed masses in a united struggle to break the grip of the capitalist policies of the Buhari regime and governments before it — military and civilian — that has plunged the economy into this political and economic uncertainty. The elites have failed to invest the resources made from crude oil to develop infrastructures or fund vital sectors of the economy. Rather, it has continued looting, paying themselves jumbo pay and allowances, and making politics a lucrative business.
It is only when the working people control and managed the economy democratically — all the key sectors are nationalized under a working people government — can, in reality, turn things around, as opposed to any capitalist-driven economy, whose only pursuits is super-profits of the Big Businesses. We call on workers and youth to join the MSA, and as well join the Socialist Party of Nigeria, so we can all collectively continue to organize and mobilize ourselves towards the desired social change of Nigeria.