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23 December 2017
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the federal government and the oil marketers/tycoons for failing to guarantee adequate supply of fuel and thereby causing untold hardship for the vast majority of Nigerians.
We place the blame of this fuel scarcity at the doorstep of the Buhari/APC capitalist government whose lame duck neo-liberal policies of the past two years are what have ensured that the oil industry and, together with it the fate of Nigerians, continue to be at the mercy of oil tycoons and other vested profit-first interest.
Instead of undoing the failed neo-liberal policies of the past PDP governments, the Buhari government has spent most of the last two years deepening them. For instance, instead of rapidly refurbishing old refineries and building new ones, the Buhari government relinquished this responsibility to Aliko Dangote – a rich business tycoon who has demonstrated with his cement business that profit is his only goal. The consequence of this disastrous policy is what we are seeing at the moment.
We challenge the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) to act fast to save the working and toiling people from the agony they are going through at the moment. We demand emergency meetings of the organs of the labour centres with a view to discuss how the labour movement should respond to this crisis including setting up "workers and community action committees" to move round petrol stations to tackle hoarding and enforce sale of fuel at official prices as well as mobilization for warning strikes and mass protests across the country. The labour movement will have to embark on mass actions to force government to ensure adequate supply of petroleum products. Also labour must make it clear that any planned hike in fuel price would be resisted with mass struggle.
Nigerians must remember that the Buhari government while increasing fuel price from N86.50k to N145 in May 2016 had not only claimed that this measure would drive down the price at some point, it had also promised that it would resolve all crisis of supply and distribution. Now what we are experiencing today is completely different with petroleum products selling at N200 per litre and above.
Also importantly, to end the perennial fuel scarcity, labour and pro-working masses organizations must demand the immediate repair of old refineries and building of new ones by the government. Besides, we must not allow an arrangement where the working people and nation's economy will be at the mercy of Dangote who when his refinery is in operation may decide to go on a boss's strike and strangulate the economy at will in order to impose any price on petroleum products.
Fuel scarcity has lingered on for almost one month now and there seems not to be an end in sight. This scarcity has caused great hardship for Nigerians, disrupting the yuletide season while also making movement/transportation much more expensive and difficult.
This perennial scarcity is mindboggling considering the fact that Nigeria is the 12th biggest crude oil producer and the 8th biggest exporter of crude oil in the world but imports most of the refined petroleum products because of lack of refining infrastructure. It is just like a fish in the ocean but still thirsty! For some time now, government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been importing virtually all refined petroleum products but has largely abandoned storage and distribution to private profiteers who sometimes embark on bosses' strikes and sabotage. This arrangement has been left intact because the ruling class both in government and business are in an unholy alliance to rob the working masses and the poor. Hence, the masses are at the mercy of greedy top public officials, government representatives and their private business collaborators. Though, NNPC is a public agency, it is bedeviled with bureaucracy and corruption such that undermines public interest because of lack of democratic management and control.
The Buhari-led government that promised change still carries on the rotten old order and has further entrenched neo-liberal policies that guarantee the interest of a few privileged persons at the expense of the vast majority.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) calls for the nationalization (public ownership) of the entire oil industry under democratic control and management of workers and consumers. We hold that this is the only way the oil industry can be efficiently managed, petroleum products will be adequately supplied and affordable such that the interest of all will be guaranteed.