The Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA) condemns in strong terms the increase in pump price of petrol by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The price of petrol was raised from N125 to N143, making a mockery of the reductions four months ago, and consequently, mocking the Nigerian people. We call for immediate reversal of this price regime. We at the same time call on labour leaders to mobilize the Nigerian working and poor people for a 24-hours warning strike as a means of rejecting this outrageous government policy. 

We view the announcement made by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) of a new price band of N140.80 to N143.80 per litre for petrol as inhuman and anti-poor, as the fuel price hike represents drawing blood from an haemorrhaging patient, given that the working masses have been facing unbearable inflation in costs of food and transportation due to the Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Nigerian government. Meanwhile, the Covid-19 outbreak has impacted negatively on workers and poor people, resulting in a swathe of furlough workers and an increase in the already high rate of unemployment, with no unemployment benefits set aside from the huge wealth of the country to pay the huge army of the unemployed. This unwholesome policy surely would further burden an already burdened people and lead to the demise of the small businesses of the poor. 

Contemplating this hike alone has proved that the Buhari regime is cut off from the reality of the average man, who has petrol, required for transport and powering of his small businesses etc., as a central part of his daily economy. The political elites cannot in any way know what the working masses are going through, considering that the political elites are inoculated from the growing poverty in the urban centres and farming communities. The same elites have continued drawing provocative wages from the nation’s account while forcing austerity and hardship down the throat of citizens. 

The government has cited a changed “market fundamentals” as reason for the new price regime. We make bold to state that these “market fundamentals” are the selfish interests of profit-seeking marketers and their capitalist cohorts in Government. This will also not be the first time the political elites have sacrificed the well-being and happiness of the people for the profit interests of billionaire-corporations, like it was the case in government’s acquiescence to hike in electricity tariff, which has now been postponed to effect until a later date. This quality, as perilous as it is for the people, is a distinguishing mark of any capitalist government. The working masses are always at the worse end of this quest by the government to ensure that super profits are guaranteed for itself and other billionaires. In the present case, no matter the cost of fuel at the international market, a lower price means lower income available for mismanagement in the public treasury and as such the need to maintain a higher pump price of fuel locally. 

Meanwhile, raising pump price to the level that it is unbearable for the mass of citizens, at a time of the worst humanitarian crisis in a century, is an indication that previous revenues have been mismanaged. If not so, accruals from oil revenues could have been spent to build new refineries and expand existing ones to the point of functionality. That this was not done before now is the fault of the government, and not the Nigerian masses. This is the more reason Nigerian masses must reject the attempt by the political elites to make them pay for a ridiculous situation of expensive fuel price in an oil producing country, which was created and perpetuated by the political class.

The MSA welcomes the statement by the leadership of the NLC condemning this increase, and supports the NLC’s declaration to mobilise the working masses to resist the increase. We call for the widest possible mobilization through a series of sensitisation activities, both within the unions and among the mass of poor and oppressed people to build a mass resistance against this. The opposition by the labour movement must not be limited to issuance of press releases, as the working and oppressed people look up to the labour leaders for leadership.

The entire labour movement as represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and United Labour Congress must work together in unison to provide the necessary leadership that will force government to effect a total reversal, even up to the point of calling a 24 hours warning strike as an indication of its readiness to act against the fuel price increase. If the government can find parameters to suspend an increase in electricity tariff, the agitation of Nigerian can also make it reverse this present hike. 

At the same time we call on all pro-working people’s organisations to commence mass mobilisation against this savage anti-poor attack. In this respect, we salute the statement of the Joint Action Front, which roundly condemned the hike and called for resistance against it.

The government has demonstrated that it will always choose the interest of profits of corporations over the well-being and happiness of the masses whenever the two interests clash. This explains why the workers and oppressed must organize and build a party of workers, poor farmers, youth and students to challenge fuel prices increase and other anti-workers policies, and to as well end the rule of capital and commence the process of transforming Nigeria, by employing her wealth to benefit the working masses. This can be done through nationalization of the oil industry and other commanding sectors of the economy, that will ensure new refineries are built and functioning at optimal capacity to provide the fuel needs of all. However, the struggle against fuel price must be connected to a comprehensive charter of demands on education, healthcare and infrastructure, which would make them available for the mass of the people and improve quality of lives generally. Ultimately, without throwing overboard the entire capitalist system and replacing it with genuine socialist society, more savage attacks are on the horizon for the working people.

This dancing around on the same spot cannot continue; the time for mass actions is drawing nearer; the working masses and their organizations in the communities, townships and cities must put the necessary pressure in place on the labour leaders to draw out the battalions of their rank and file working class through a 24 hours general strike to give a biting teeth to the resistance.


Dagga Tolar 

Spokesperson, MSA