Nigeria: new fuel prices increase will cause social misery

Workers organisations must take decisive mass action now!

The following is a press release produced by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM – CWI Nigeria)

The first post-Labour Act hike in petrol price recently and secretly effected by the Federal Government is a call to action and another test of the political will of working class movement in Nigeria to resist the tyranny of Obasanjo’s anti-poor dictatorship.

This government is oil crazy and is driven by the profit interest of the multinationals and the local capitalist elites. While the government has been earning unprecedented incomes from crude oil sales, the labouring masses have, at the same time, been subjected to unrelenting attacks on their living standards. In the past the government used to invest oil money to develop public education, health care, telecommunications, electricity, road, etc, even though a huge chunk of such investments always ended being stolen by top government officials and their ever-dubious contractors.

However, under President Obasanjo’s civilian government, the reigning neo-liberal capitalist philosophy completely forbids government investments on social services that can ease the economic plight of the working masses. This explains the mad logic behind the government’s policy. As the country makes more money from oil, the pauperised working masses have been made poorer in the spirit of market forces and trade liberalisation. We therefore welcome the 10-day ultimatum issued by the NLC for the government to revert to the old price. But we hasten to add that with the antecedents of this regime, only an organised mass struggle can make the regime buckle.

In addition, the NLC should see this latest attack as a social war against the people who have already been subjected to agony, pains and pangs of Obasanjo’s IMF induced neo-liberal capitalist policies. Consequently, labour leaders need to face the stark reality that only a fundamental break with this unjust system can bring permanent succour for the working people and youth.

On their part, the working masses have shown beyond any reasonable doubt, their total opposition and objection to government’s anti-poor policies. This has been demonstrated through several general strikes and mass protests. However, the unwillingness of labour leadership to draw correct conclusion of a system change in these struggles against Obasanjo’s regime remains a big frustrating factor militating against the development of the working masses’ struggle today. The way and manner with which the NLC leaders called off last November’s planned general strike against the then hike in fuel price remains a point of anger and bitterness among significant layers of the working masses who increasingly are demoralised against the hopeless strategy and tactics being adopted by main trade union and labour leaders.

Therefore, to ensure successful mobilisation this time around, labour leaders need to expressly apologise for their error in calling off that planned strike and at the same time give solid undertakings not to repeat its half-hearted disposition to fight the regime and its myriad of anti-labour/anti-poor policies, to a most logical end. Our response should be firm and direct. The Obasanjo regime should quit now since it lacks creative and innovative economic policies capable of addressing the needs of the working people.

To give the ultimatum a necessary serious character, NLC should not be tied down to unnecessary and futile negotiations with this untrusted government, rather, the Congress should embark on mass mobilisation, enlightenment campaigns with posters, leaflets, rallies for preparation for the D-day within the labour unions and among the masses in general. A general strike is inevitable to force the regime to revert to old price.

We call on the representatives of workers at Obasanjo’s confab to quit forthwith since their presence at the confab will further confuse the masses of the genuiness of labour leaders to give incorrupt independent leadership to the struggle as it is utmostly needed now.

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April 2005