The Movement for a Socialist Alternative MSA supports the strike action called by the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC against the arbitrary hardship pushed on the Nigerian people as a result of astronomical hikes in petrol, school fees and electricity bill. This action of the Tinubu government has worsened the living conditions of the ordinary working masses of the country.

It is unimaginable to believe that a country abundantly blessed with crude oil resources will have its masses pay exorbitantly more as a means to guarantee super profit for oil barons, who practically do nothing else than import refined products into the country as opposed to taking a concrete step of investing the country huge wealth in building new refineries at public expense to make fuel cheaply available for the citizens. 

The regime of President Tinubu by act of announcing from the very day one in power on May 29, 2023, the “removal of subsidy” effecting an increase in fuel from N165 to N500, which has now even gone to N617 is a clear indication that the Tinubu regime, like the Buhari APC regime and that of the PDP before it is not friends of the working masses who voted them into power; indeed they are in power to act and rule on behalf of the capitalist class and members of the billionaire club both locally and internationally.

The fully unleashed programme of non-involvement of the state in the economy to the blind dictate of the madness of market forces in less than a month has seen another price hike to a new rate of N617 per litre. We ask what subsidy was removed for this new hike again in less than four weeks of close to 200%. So also, with the floating of the country’s currency without any commitment to developing the economy with a programme of industrialisation, Naira has shut to a figure of N850 to $1 with all of the negative effects on an economy largely import dependent. 

For a country like Nigeria that is an oil-producing country that ought to use the huge funds from the sales of crude oil to improve the living condition of her citizens, the reverse is painfully the reality, as the price of a barrel of crude oil increased in the international market, Nigerians should rejoice in the fact that the country ordinarily is making more money. But, it is only but another opportunity for the few oil Barons and members of the billionaire club who dominate the importation of fuel in the country to also enrich themselves more than before at the very expense of further worsening the living conditions of Nigerians.

The Tinubu regime has also extended its attack on the working masses to other key sectors of the economy. Announcing a spurious loan scheme for students in universities with stringent conditionalities that will ensure that students from working-class backgrounds cannot access it, universities  

across the country have hiked school fees; for instance, the University of Lagos has increased school fees from N19,000 to N190,000. The University of Benin from N41,400 to between N150,000 and N170, 000 with other higher institutions preparing to announce similar increases that will price university education out of the reach of the ward from a working-class background.

The same increase in electricity tariff is also about to happen in the electricity sector, with the spin doctors of the Tinubu regime at the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission spending N2.8 trillion on the electricity subsidy, with N57 billion spent between January and April 2023. Even when there is no regular round-the-clock provision of electricity for the working masses, the working masses are paying more for darkness to meet the greed for profit by the private profiteers who dominate the electricity sector. 

The Movement for a Socialist Alternative MSA condemn these attacks of hikes on poor working masses and calls on the masses to take their destiny into their hands and commence a struggle and fight back against this imposed suffering on them occasioned by the capitalist policies of deregulation and privatisation of the ruling APC government. All sections of the ruling class, including the PDP, who were earlier in power for 16 years, Peter Obi’s LP or Kwakwanso’s NNDP, like the APC, are all adherents and supporters of capitalism, as defined by the goal of the World Bank and the IMF to handover all critical sectors of the economy to the domination of the private profiteers.

Members of the MSA canvass and campaign for the programme of Socialist Alternative to manage the economy, with the nationalisation of the means of production, developed to all of its possible modern features in all key sectors and placed under public ownership, and democratic control and management of workers and farmers’ government. 

Many Lies of Government  

Over the years, every regime has, one way or the other, continued its propaganda to deceive Nigerians with the word SUBSIDY. After every new increase to end the subsidy regime, the same old lie is again employed to carry out another increase. When in reality, it is the macro and micro economic policies of market forces and the devaluation of the country’s currency that is in reality to blame, given the refusal to commit to industrialisation, through the development of steel production, regular electricity supply and construction of new refineries, the unproductive nature of the ruling elites is what has put the country’s economy in a state of comatose.

The outright lie that “only the rich enjoy the subsidy on petrol” and that if the subsidy is removed “, they will have money to fund education” is nothing but a blatant lie. Subsidy before now serves nothing else than a guise to corruptly enrich the cabals in the NNPC, who serve as cronies for members of the ruling class and oil barons to access the public freely without rendering any corresponding serves and as well as increase the selling price of fuel product to ensure more super profit for the oil magnates.

The Nigerian government will not stop shocking us with their idiocy for not making the refineries work. How can the machine that refines crude oil not work for several years, but the machine that extracts crude oil always works? The reason is very simple. The ruling elites are comfortable with the capitalist creed that makes it possible to make millions of dollars daily from crude oil sales and are not interested in investing the same in refining for cheap consumption by the people.

According to the statement made by Governor Sule of Nassarawa State states that “Our three refineries in Nigeria today have a total of 450,000 barrels per day, Dangote is 650,000. He spent $19 billion on building it. We spent, not building a new one, but in maintaining these refineries; more than $19 billion in eight years, yet they have not been maintained” ( June 9, 2023).

Meanwhile, over the years, we have been told that the country cannot have a functional refinery enabling the country to refine crude oil locally; this is a big lie. The report states that the nation’s fund funded the recently commissioned Dangote refinery. According to

“The Central Bank of Nigeria also partnered, as always, with the Dangote Group in ensuring the successful completion of the project by providing about N125 billion to cover domestic currency requirements for the venture.” 

The Problem is Capitalism

Capitalism is a system that protects its profit, puts the means of production in the hands of only a few individuals, and will always hand over the wealthy of society to a few billionaires and condemn the mass of working people into penury. This is the case all over the world where capitalism strives, including Nigeria. The biggest capitalist economy in the world, the United States, is a good example. According to the US Census Bureau, in January 2021, “11.6 per cent of the US population, or 37.9 million people, were living in poverty”. Coupled with the high level of corruption among the political class, Nigeria’s case is even worst. 63% of the population, or 133 million Nigerians, are considered multidimensional poor (NBS). And the Tinubu regime has only now made it worse than ever before.

Capitalism, as described by Marx, is a volatile economic system that will suffer a series of worsening crises – recessions and depressions that will produce greater unemployment, lower wages and increasing misery. The commercialisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC Ltd) and the education sector, among others, is an attempt to keep poor people further poorer. It means that citizens will now spend more on fuel and pay huge fees to tertiary institutions. Despite all of these, the government is not interested in salary increases to march the rate of inflation in the country.

$800 million Loan and N500 billion Palliative – Govt taking from the Poor to Pay the Rich

The National Assembly approved the N500 billion subsidy relief request by the President and has secured a loan of $800 million from the World Bank to be shared as palliative to some Nigerians to ‘ease’ the effect of the increase in fuel price. The breakdown of the palliatives consists of N8,000 per month to just 12 million Nigerians for six months, which amounts to N48,000, in a country with over 133 million Nigerians living in acute poverty. And the 469 National Assembly members will get N70 billion which amount to N149 million to each member to “support their working conditions”. Capitalism is about endorsing inequality such that the rich get richer while the poor remain impoverished.

Labour and the Working Masses Must Organise and Fight Back

 While we welcome the August 2nd protest called by the NLC as a step forward from an earlier backed-down position of calling for a strike, we think this should only be a mobilising means and part of the preparation for a 48 hours general strike as a first step to full-scale downing of tools to reverse the unaffordable increment.

Starting from the day President Tinubu was sworn in, it has been one attack or the other on the poor working people. It is more as if the administration came to inflict pain and suffering on the people, and unless the people get organised, rise and resist the attack; the suffering will only continue. Following the initial hike in fuel prices, the labour leaders threatened a fight back, only to, unfortunately, chicken out. This pattern of shying away from the labour leaders from providing leadership for the anger of the working masses against the government and capitalism is a betrayal that can only mean more hardship and the, worst, turn to a coordinated resistance against the Tinubu regime.

The union’s resolve to struggle for salary increments for workers needs to be tenable. As we speak, the unions are yet to announce a figure or put any machinery in motion to announce a living wage that will march the inflation rate. Yet the fact must be stated that even a N100,000 monthly minimum wage will not be enough to cushion the current rate of inflation that is also impacted by a food crisis as a consequence of the state of insecurity in the north and the Russia Vs Ukraine war and that capitalism will always find a means to take back more than whatever it gives to the working masses, leaving them ever worst off. 

Despite the above, the Tinubu regime, with its conscious ploy to build support for itself among all the ranks and sections of the ruling elites, did not waste time to pronounce a 114% pay raise for public office holders immediately they were sworn in in June 2023 through the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission RMAFC. This can only mean that workers will not get any new and well deserve new minimum wage if they do not mobilise workers even to the point of strike action against the Tinubu regime. It follows, therefore, that the honeymoon or cooling-off period given to the Tinubu regime must come to an end. The 

the NLC and the TUC must arise from their slumber and provide a nationwide mobilisation to end these attacks on the living conditions of the working masses, up to the point of calling on the Tinubu regime to vacate the seat of power if it remains unwilling to reverse itself and refrain from imposing additional pains and suffering on the working masses.

While we insist on the above line of action on account that even the most effective strike action inevitably raises the question of power, affirming to the working masses that it is their sweat and labour that enables society to function and work; withdraw it, society is grounded. And yet this key lesson needs to be drawn by the labour leaders, even when they choose to carry a strike action. To inevitably shy away from posing the question of political power for the working class on its own independent banner and class interest.

This is why the MSA insists on the building of a mass political party of the Working People on a programme of taking over political power, bringing an end to the capitalist domination of the economy and employing the wealth and resources of the country to meet the needs and aspiration of the working masses. The current Peter Obi-led Labour Party is incapable of playing such a role, given its public endorsement of neoliberal capitalism and its programme of deregulation and privatisation, the same programme now being implemented by the Tinubu regime. The task of reclaiming the LP or building a new working People Party must be taken up by the trade unions and left formations in the country. 

Indeed the MSA must act alongside other groups like Joint Action Front, JAF, CORE, ASCAB, and other left-leaning groups to discuss and put the necessary pressure on the labour leaders to act in this direction, even up to taking up these steps on behalf of the working masses to unite all pro-working masses group for a full onslaught not just with the Tinubu regime and the ruling class but as well as with capitalism.

Only a programme of struggle and revolution by the working masses can consciously act to reverse all of the anti-people programmes of deregulation and privatisation with which capitalism imposes an unending suffering of the working masses.